Former sports editor of the News of the World, Paul McCarthy was talking on Talksport today about the amount of work that went into the undercover sting that led to the jailing of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir for their parts in the spot fixing controversy.
At the time of the no-balls being bowled, McCarthy was one of only a handful of people who knew at what point they were to be bowled and I remember in the past hearing him describe the feeling of disbelief and stunned silence in the office where they witnessed this happening as planned.
Today he was describing how professional Mazher Mahmood (the so callled fake sheikh) and the rest of his undercover team were in this sting operation and all the other numerous ones they have been involved in over the years.
The thing that stood out to me though, was when he said that Mahmood and his covert team had started working on the sting in January 2010.
Doing my own calculations, I don’t think Pakistan arrived in England until June or early July of 2010. I not naive enough to think that this whole sting started the week before the test match, but I was surprised to find out it started 6 months or so before Pakistan even set foot in the county.
This says to me that well in advance of this tour Mahmood’s contacts either had word that certain players were already on illegal payrolls and therefore should be easy to entice into more corruption, or certain players had made it clear in the so called ‘market place’ that they were available to be bought.
For that type of information to be available to Mahmood – who is not even a cricket man – a full 6 months before Pakistan even arrived is shocking and makes me wonder just how the relevant world authorities who are supposed to police this sort of thing and the national management structure of the Pakistan team didn’t know anything about it.
It also makes me wonder did all or some of these people know and just turn a blind eye, or did they decide that they couldn’t do anything to stop it?
When I hear it said that there is still far more to come out about spot fixing, on the evidence of what I heard today, this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.