Mohammad Aamer: I was Butt fucked
Mohammad Aamer has talked for the first time about his shame over the Lord's spot-fixing scandal that ended with him in prison, claiming that money was not his motive for deliberately bowling two no-balls.
The brilliant teenage fast bowler, banned from all cricket for five years for his part in an affair that also saw his captain Salman Butt and team-mate Mohammad Asif imprisoned, says the shame involved in cheating the game made him feel ‘as if someone had shot me and I simply didn't exist any more. That I was dead. One day I was on top of the world and the next I came crashing down'.
Aamer, back in Pakistan after serving half his six-month sentence, showed remorse, regret and guilt in an interview with Mike Atherton for Sky Sports and does not seek to justify his wrong-doing.
But he also provided a barely credible explanation of how he lurched into the clutches of the fixers, led by Butt, when he had the cricketing world at his feet in 2010 aged 18.
Aamer was befriended by Butt (above middle) when he became involved in the Pakistan set-up in a move which saw him clearly being groomed for what lay ahead.
Aamer said Butt had ‘joked' about spot-fixing during his early days with the team then the senior man introduced him to a ‘businessman' called Ali while playing in Dubai.
Ali contacted him ahead of the Edgbaston Test against England asking for Aamer's UK mobile number and bank account details.
Police, in their subsequent investigation, found texts sent by Aamer to Ali on the eve of the later Test at The Oval which said ‘yes', ‘yes what', ‘for how much', ‘what needs to be done', ‘it would be too much friend' and ‘so in the first 3 bowl whatever you like and in the next two do 8 runs'.
It was these messages which led Justice Cooke, in his summing up at Southwark Crown Court at the end of a case in which Aamer pleaded guilty to corruption charges, to question the innocence of a boy from a village outside Rawalpindi who to many is more victim than criminal.
‘I was sat waiting for someone and I was bored. I was curious and I asked myself what exactly he wanted from me. I had to find out,' is Aamer's explanation for the texts.
Fast forward to the Lord's Test and Aamer was warned by disgraced agent Mazhar Majeed (above), also introduced to him by Butt, that the ICC knew about his texts to Ali but that he could get him out of trouble. As long as he bowled two no balls for him.
‘I was stupid to do it but I was panicking so much that it didn't occur to me how ridiculous this was,' said Aamer. ‘I knew I was cheating cricket and it was a horrible feeling. But I thought they were saving me. Then I did it.'
Aamer claims Majeed never mentioned money to him but later gave him £1,500, which he put in a safe at the team hotel. It was this money, paid by the News of the World's undercover reporter as part of their successful sting, that sealed Aamer's fate.
‘Everybody thinks I did it for the money but I want to clarify this is not the case,' said Aamer. ‘They told me I was in trouble with the ICC for texting Ali. Salman took advantage of my friendship. That's why I'm so angry with him.'
Aamer, 19, says, during his journey to prison, he felt that he ‘would never think about cricket again nor play it'.
It would be a tragedy if this impressionable young man is lost to the game for good and he deserves credit for showing regret.
But he remains more sinner than sinned against and, if his story stops more fixing, it will have served its purpose.