Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Salman Butt accused of pressurizing Asif to bowl no-balls

The lawyer representing Mohammad Asif has accused former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt of pressurizing Asif to bowl a no-ball during the Lord's test against England last year.

During the 10th day of the spot-fixing trial at a London court on Tuesday, Butt spent a grueling five hours in the witness stand as he was questioned first by Asif's lawyer Alexander Milne and then by prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee.

After playing a video of an over in which Asif bowled a no-ball, Milne told Butt: "You had been talking to Mr Asif through this over and pressurizing him."

Milne continued: "Before Mr Asif bowled his no-ball, you said to him, 'run faster ... you are running too slow.'"

Butt, who frequently showed flashes of anger during a challenging day for the 27-year-old, denied the accusation.

"I'm not there to pressure him, just to encourage," Butt said. "If you have played cricket in any part of your life you would know that these things are never said. It is no term. There's no suggestion in cricket as 'run faster.' He is not running the 100 meters, he's bowling. Asif has never been about pace, he is a rhythm bowler."

Butt and Asif are facing charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, following the match in August 2010 when they allegedly conspired with agent Mazhar Majeed, teenage fast bowler Mohammed Amir and other people unknown to bowl pre-planned no-balls. Butt and Asif deny the charges.

Butt must continue in the witness stand on Wednesday as Jafferjee was yet to even start probing him on the match in question at Lord's and three no-balls. The jury has already been informed that it can only give a verdict on what happened in relation to Lord's and the three no-balls in question.

Jafferjee spent much of Tuesday questioning Butt about the background to the Lord's test. Referring to a notebook Butt kept to track income, expenditure and money that was "still to be received," the prosector wanted to know why Butt had not noted a >30,000 endorsement deal that he signed with Majeed to have a sticker on his bat advertising one of Majeed's companies Capital Cricket.

"It's up to me about what to write and what not to write. It's my diary," Butt replied, becoming agitated by Jafferjee's probing.

Jafferjee also asked Butt why he withdrew $181,000 from his Bank Alfalah account in Lahore, Pakistan on the day of his police interview in London on Sept. 3, 2010. Butt transferred the amount into his mother's account.

"It might have happened on the same day as my interview but it was not something that I aimed to happen on the same day," Butt said. "I can't explain why (I withdrew it).

"You are trying to portray something else, but you don't know anything about the Muslim culture."

The case continues. AP

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