Amir claims he was tricked into bowling no-balls


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The Independent Online

Mohammad Amir, one of three Pakistan players jailed for spot-fixing, has claimed he was entrapped into deliberately bowling two no-balls and was too scared to contact the authorities over the demands being made of him by his captain, Salman Butt, and Butt's British agent, Mazhar Majeed.

Speaking about the case for the first time since pleading guilty at Southwark Crown Court last year, Amir said Butt and Majeed tricked him into delivering the no-balls against England at Lord's in 2010, but accepted that his "stupidity" also played a role and that he panicked when the police became involved and at first refused to admit his guilt.

"You can imagine how any 18-year-old lad was feeling under those circumstances," Amir said in an interview with Sky Sports. "I'd gone from the height of fame to being disgraced in such a horrendous way. Anyone going through that would panic and fail to understand the situation. Had I fully realised what had happened I would have gone straight to the ICC. I was so stupid. However, I never did it for money."

Amir is back in Pakistan, having served half of a six-month sentence in a young offenders' institute. Butt and Mohammad Asif remain in prison, as does Majeed. Amir and Majeed both pleaded guilty ahead of the trial of Butt and Asif. The three players are all banned from cricket for five years. Amir says Butt approached him before the Lord's Test about fixing but he laughed it off.

"I'm so angry with Salman," said Amir, now 19. "He took advantage of my friendship. He used to call me 'innocent one'. Like how an elder brother would speak to a younger one. He should have helped me instead of involving me in all this."

According to Amir, his entrapment happened on the eve of the fourth Test, when he was asked to meet Majeed in a car in the underground car park of the team's hotel. Butt joined them and sat in the back seat. Majeed told Amir that the ICC were investigating him over his involvement with a man called Ali, a friend of Butt's. "They told me I was in trouble," said Amir.

Amir had met Ali in Dubai some months previously. During the England tour, Amir had provided Ali with his bank details and exchanged text messages with him that suggested discussions over spot-fixing. When the police became involved, Amir sent Ali a text asking him to delete all messages between them.

Amir claims Majeed told him he, Majeed, could sort the case but in return Amir would have to do him a favour and bowl the no-balls. "I'd like to say how stupid I was," said Amir. "On the one hand he was telling me that a report about me had gone to the ICC and on the other that he wanted me to do two no-balls. I was panicking so much it didn't even occur to me how ridiculous it was."

Amir said that he was "scared" to approach team management and "confused". "I was worried that if I didn't do it, then it might create a problem for me," he said. He bowled both no-balls as required. Before the second, Butt came over to him from mid-off to remind him what was required. Afterwards Waqar Younis, Pakistan's coach, confronted Amir. "I was untying my shoelaces and he came up to me and asked what on earth I'd done. Suddenly Salman spoke up and explained that he'd told me to bowl a bouncer. I remained quiet. I said nothing."