I Was Tricked Into Spot-Fixing: Aamer

London, Mar 20 (IANS): Young Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Aamer, who served a six months jail term after being convicted of spot-fixing, has broken his silence for the first time, saying that former captain Salman Butt and bookie Mazher Majeed tricked him into the wrongdoing.

In an interview with former England captain Mike Atherton on Sky Sports, Aamer, who was released from a young offenders' institute after serving half his jail term, said he felt betrayed by Butt, whom he looked up to as an "elder brother".

Aamer, who is now in Pakistan rebuilding his life, revealed that both Majeed and Butt forced him into spot-fixing by falsely claiming that he was already being investigated by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for fixing.

During Aamer's prosecution at the Southwark Crown Court last year it was revealed that the youngster had sent suspicious texts to a businessman in Dubai, vaguely referred to Monday as "Ali". This act implicated Aamer in fixing outside of the undercover sting operated by The News of the World.

Amir claimed Majeed and Butt used these texts to force him into their plan to bowl deliberate no-balls during the fourth Test against England in 2010.

Revealing the details, Aamer said: "I was in the hotel, I think, and I received a call from Mazhar saying that I should go to the car park because he wanted to talk to me about something very important. So I went out and Mazhar had a grey coloured car in the parking area. I went and sat next to him in the front seat.

"All of a sudden it was as if someone had launched an attack. Suddenly he said: 'Oh bro, you've got yourself in big trouble, you're trapped, and your career is at stake.' I said: "Bro, what's happened? He told me that my calls and texts with Ali had been recorded and had reached the ICC. He said that he had received a phone call from a friend of his saying that my name was involved. I said: "But I have not done anything for him.' He said: "Nevertheless you're trapped; your name's being mentioned, and the case is now open.'

"I said: "What now?" And he said: "He's my friend and you're lucky that he's the one who is in charge of this case.' He said that he told him: "Bro, put an end to this case, shut this file. Whatever you need me to do, I'll do it. Whatever needs to be done, I'll do it. I'll do anything.
"But Amir's name should not be mentioned.' That's when he said: "Can you do me a favour?" I asked him what favour. He replied: 'Do two no-balls for me,'" said Aamer.

Amir admitted that he acted as a "stupid" and should have walked away.

"I panicked so much that I didn't even think to ask him, 'what are you doing?'. On one hand he had spoken about the whole ICC intelligence investigation, and on the other hand he was asking me to deliver no-balls. I was panicking so much it didn't even occur to me how ridiculous it was.
"He told me that Salman would help me and that he was with me. It was at this very moment that Salman turned up and sat behind us," he said.

Amir said he couldn't forgive himself after he bowled the no-balls at Lord's.

"I was cursing myself. I wondered what was happening. I knew that it was cheating cricket; that it was out of order, and that it shouldn't happen. It was a really horrible feeling. Then I thought on the other hand that they are being kind to me and helping me. I thought that they are saving me and if I don't do it, it might become a problem for me. That's what I was thinking at the time. Then I did it," he said.

Besides Aamer, fellow pacer Mohammad Asif, Butt and Majeed were all connvicted. Butt and Majeed are still serving their 30 and 32 months respectively having been convicted of two charges of corruption in November. Asif was given a 12-month sentence.

"Why did those people do what they did to me? They told me that I was in trouble for texting Ali and what was in those texts. There had been no need for these guys to make this story up. If they thought I was prepared to do such a thing they'd simply have come up and asked me. That's why I'm so angry with Salman. He took advantage of my friendship," said Aamer.

Amir said he could never forget when he led from the dock at Southwark in handcuffs.

"I was telling myself that I would never play cricket again. I was crying, and saying to myself that I wouldn't play or touch a ball again, nor would I even think about cricket," he said.


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