Undercover police officer infiltrated cricket spot-fixing network involving Yorkshire man, jury hears

The trial, at Manchester Crown Court, is expected to last three weeks.
The trial, at Manchester Crown Court, is expected to last three weeks.

An undercover police officer infiltrated a cricket spot-fixing network by posing as a member of a corrupt betting syndicate, a jury has heard.

His work led to the uncovering of an attempted fix in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) towards the end of 2016 and an actual fix in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in February 2017.

In both cases, an opening batsman in the Twenty20 tournaments had agreed to not score runs from the first two balls of an over in return for payment, Manchester Crown Court was told.

Pakistani cricketer Nasir Jamshaid, 33, who has represented his country more than 60 times, was said to be the target of bribery in the Bangladesh "two dot ball" plan. He then allegedly turned perpetrator as a go-between who encouraged other players to spot-fix at a PSL fixture in Dubai.

Yousef Anwar, 36, from Slough - described as the ringleader - and Mohammed Ijaz, 34, from Sheffield, pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiracy to commit bribery.

Jamshaid, who lives in Walsall with his British doctor wife, is the sole defendant on trial as he denies being part of the conspiracy involved with the Dubai game between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi on February 9.

Opening the case on Wednesday, prosecutor Andrew Thomas QC said: "Two no-scoring balls in a match may not seem a great deal. No doubt the players were willing to go along with it because the risk that it would make the difference between their team winning or losing was relatively slim.

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"The fact the price for this fix was £30,000 shows just how significant it would be if tens and hundreds of thousands of pounds could be made through fraudulent bets."

He told the jury the case arose out of an investigation by the National Crime Agency and that the undercover operative was introduced to Anwar who was suspected of involvement in bribery and match-fixing in international cricket.

Their first meeting was at a hotel in Slough in November 2016 where Anwar said he had six players working for him in the BPL.

Anwar freely admitted being involved in spot-fixing for about 10 years, said Mr Thomas, and went on to discuss spot-fix fees with payment split between players and fixers.

At a further meeting at the same hotel, Anwar told the officer the names of his players including Jamshaid and fellow opening batsman Sharjeel Khan who both played for the Rangpur Riders.

Jamshaid later went on to agree to undertake a two dot ball fix in a match against Dhaka Dynamites, the court heard, but it was called off when the batsman did not give all the pre-arranged signals - which included the use of certain coloured batting grips.

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Another match on December 3 against Barisal Bulls was identified but Jamshaid did not play as he was dropped from the team as the BPL season ended.

Mr Thomas said Anwar brushed off the failure of the scheme and was already suggesting fixing a game in the PSL and also possibly a tie in Australia's Big Bash League involving different players.

In January 2017, Anwar met up with the undercover officer and Jamshaid at a restaurant in Birmingham, the court was told, where Sharjeel Khan and a team-mate, Khalid Latif, were lined up for the next fix in the PSL - a match between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi.

Anwar flew out to Dubai to confirm the arrangements with the two Islamabad United players and it was agreed Sharjeel Khan would carry out the two ball fix on February 9.

Mr Thomas said: "It was a late night game. Shortly before midnight, Sharjeel Khan came out to the crease to play. The pre-agreed signals were given and if there was any doubt about it Yousef Anwar sent a message to the undercover officer to say 'we're on'.

"Sure enough, at the start of the second over, Sharjeel Khan scored no runs off the first two balls. To a casual observer it might have just looked like someone out-of-form playing some fairly average strokes. But it followed on from the signals and Sharjeel Khan was doing precisely what he had promised to do."

Messages were sent between Anwar and Jamshaid immediately before and after the fix took place which included discussions about payment, the court heard.

Players including Sharjeel Khan were challenged by the authorities after the game and statements were taken and mobile phones were seized, Mr Thomas said.

And when Khalid Latif's bag was searched, a number of coloured grips - brought from the UK to Dubai by Anwar - were found, the prosecutor added.

Anwar travelled to London after lying low for 48 hours and was arrested on his arrival at Heathrow Airport, the court heard, as Jamshaid was arrested the same day at his home in High Street, Walsall.

Jamshaid denies conspiring with Anwar and Ijaz to commit bribery.

The trial, estimated to last up to three weeks, continues.