Thursday, 13 October 2011

Butt paid bonus for shunning ICL

The jury in the alleged spot-fixing trial involving Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif heard on Thursday in-depth information on legitimate payments made to the players and the breakdown of how their earnings were distributed, including a loyalty payment of £22,000 for declining the Indian Cricket League.

Those payments and method of distribution is significant to the case, as large amounts of cash were found in the hotel rooms of the two players during police raids in August last year, on their tour of England. The players attempted to account for the money during police interviews at the time.

On the seventh day of the trial at Southwark Crown Court, the prosecution called the former PCB director of cricket operations, Zakir Khan, to detail all of the various payments made to their contracted players.

Zakir, appearing via a video link from the PCB offices in Lahore, forensically explained the breakdown of pay when prompted by Aftab Jafferjee for the prosecution and then the two players' legal representatives.

The most interesting aspect was perhaps a fee of three million Pakistani rupees made to players to deter them from signing up to the so-called 'rebel' ICL. That amount equates to about £22,000. That nugget of information was brought to the court by Butt's barrister Ali Bajwa QC and confirmed by Zakir.

Pakistan were the worst affected by the breakaway league and a team in the ICL even carried the name the Lahore Badshahs, captained by former Pakistan star Inzamam-ul-Haq and coached by ex-wicketkeeper Moin Khan.

The ICL, which has since disbanded, was unsanctioned and not officially supported by the ICC and its members. With an exodus of Pakistan players to the ICL, also including players like Mohammad Sami, Abdul Razzaq and Mohammed Yousuf, the PCB made loyalty payments to players they did not wish to lose the ICL - Butt being one of them.

From Bajwa's probing, Zakir also confirmed to the court that the then PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf offered to triple player bonus payments for the match against India in the Kitply Cup in Bangladesh during 2008, when Butt scored an unbeaten 129.

During the police searches a total of £30,002 was found in Butt's hotel room (room 714 at the Marriott in Regents Park) as well as various cash in other currencies such as US$12,617, UAE Dhs 24,300 and 26,015 Pakistani rupees. Asif had just over £8,000 in sterling in his room (No. 130).

With that background, the prosecution gleaned the legitimate breakdown of pay made to its players. Butt and Asif, the court was told, were both in the top pay bracket (A band) and were paid a monthly retainer of Rs 250,000 (approx £1800). For match fees they received Rs 350,000 per Test (£2500), 300,000 per one-day international (£2200) and 250,000 per Twenty20. Both of those payments were made by cheque in Pakistan.

In terms of prize money, for items such as Man-of-the-Match or Series awards and series wins, those monies are calculated at the end of tours in the PCB office and again paid by cheque in Pakistan within 20 days of that tour or series finishing.

The court was also told that players receive a share of 80 percent of the PCB's annual sponsorship with Pepsi, which was worth approximately US$1 million in 2010. Then the fifth segment of income from the PCB related to incentive bonuses for items such as centuries scored, five-wicket hauls, four catches for a fielder and wicketkeeping catches and stumpings.

Bajwa also pointed out that his client Butt earned a share of his US$150,000 salary for a contract with Kolkata Knight Riders in the first edition of the Indian Premier League in 2008.

In terms of allowances, the jury was told that for the ten week tour of England in 2010, the maximum Butt could have pocketed from the PCB was £10,500. All players earned £8,000 for the tour but because Butt was captain he received an added captaincy bonus that was worth £250 a week.

Expenses such as accommodation, breakfast and travel was paid for them, and the main items they would be expected to fund were dinners, refreshments, entertainment, laundry and shopping.

In his testimony Zakir also confirmed that Pakistani President had paid the players Rs 500,000 per man for reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup and that such payments were not uncommon for excellent achievements. He also agreed that former captain Javed Miandad did not have to pay duty fees on a car he brought into the country in 1986 "but that type of thing doesn't happen any more," he said.

The information on payments was explained before lunch, and after the break the court heard mostly legal arguments not in the presence of the jury and some cross-referencing and background of the phone records used in evidence. There is a possibility that Butt will commence his defence in the witness box on Friday but Justice Cooke may yet prefer him to start his testimony after the weekend.

Butt and Asif are facing charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, relating to the Lord's Test last year when they allegedly conspired with agent Mazhar Majeed, teenage fast bowler Mohammad Amir and other people unknown to bowl pre-determined no-balls. Butt and Asif deny the charges. ESPN-Cricinfo

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