Pakistan batsman Yasir Hameed insisted Sunday he had been misled by an undercover reporter and was only repeating allegations he had read about when he said his teammates were corrupt.
The News of the World newspaper said Hameed had “sensationally confirmed” its report last week that some Pakistan players had accepted money to fix aspects of the final Test match against England in London.
The paper said Hameed had told one of its reporters in a bar in Nottingham, central England, that some Pakistan players were fixing “almost every match”.
“They?ve been caught. Only the ones that get caught are branded crooks. They were doing it (fixing) in almost every match. God knows what they were up to. Scotland Yard was after them for ages,” Hameed was quoted as saying.
“It makes me angry because I?m playing my best and they are trying to lose.”
The tabloid printed a photograph of Hameed which appeared to have been taken by a hidden camera as proof of their meeting, in which he also said that he himself had been asked to fix games.
“If you sat here and said, ‘I’m a bookie and I want you to fix the match tomorrow’ — I’ve met lots of people like that in the past and I refused. They offered me handsome money,” he was quoted as saying by the paper.
In a statement Sunday, the 32-year-old said that in talking to their reporter — who broke the original story of the “spot-fixing” claims — he had been misled into thinking he was speaking to a potential sponsor.
“Naturally, I was interested in what he had to say and we began a conversation,” he said.
“He offered me at least 50,000 pounds (77,000 dollars, 60,000 euros) for the deal,” which involved having an airline logo on his bat, plus television and billboard advertisements in the United Arab Emirates.
Hameed said he was asked for the names of four more players who may be interested in a similar arrangements and was then asked about the match-fixing allegations clouding Pakistan’s England tour.
“As I saw him as a friend and a potential agent I naively started to answer his questions,” he said.
“As far as I recall, I only told him whatever I had already read in the newspapers about the matter.”
Hameed said he was unaware of the hidden camera.
He said two days later the man telephoned and offered 25,000 pounds to give a statement against the three players under investigation: Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif.
Hameed said he refused immediately and put the phone down, then neither called nor took calls from the man.
The batsman said he later received a text from the man, which read: “Pls call me. Incidentally you are in video drinking wine and saying all the quotes attributed to you. Denying it is just stupid as we will be releasing the video to TV. Better that you stand up and speak the truth!!!!”
He said he decided not to respond and told the Pakistan Cricket Board about what had happened.
The statement was read by a spokesman outside the Pakistan High Commission (embassy) in London. Hameed was later seen leaving the building.
Hameed’s statement contained the mobile phone number of the man he was dealing with.
The number goes straight through to Scotland Yard’s non-urgent general enquiries line.
“The number given does divert to a police non-emergency number. We will take a look into the circumstances of this,” a Scotland Yard spokesman told AFP.
The News of the World’s allegations last week led to Butt, Aamer and Asif being charged by the International Cricket Council for corruption. They were also questioned by police.
Hameed remains in England after playing in Pakistan’s Test series here, despite not being picked for the one-day matches.
Hameed told AFP: “I can never think of blaming my teammates in match-fixing.”
Pakistan’s one-day captain Shahid Afridi said Hameed has the mental age of a teen.
“I think he is 30, 31, but mentally he is 15, 16. I don’t know with who he was sitting or in which situation he gave this message.
“I don’t know but we have known him for a long time and we can expect anything from him. He has been doing these type of things a lot of times.”
Asked if Hamid was unreliable, he replied: “Yeah, the people know which type of character he is.”