Pakistan players, agent jailed for fixing scam
A British judge on Thursday jailed disgraced former Pakistan cricket
captain Salman Butt, two of his bowlers and their agent for their part
in a fixing scandal which has rocked the game to its core.
Butt, 27, looked aghast as he received a 30-month sentence at
London's Southwark Crown Court, where he and fast bowler Mohammad Asif
were found guilty on Tuesday of fixing parts of the August 2010 Lord's
Test match against England.
Asif, 28, was jailed for a year, while prodigious 19-year-old bowler
Mohammad Aamer, who admitted involvement in pre-arranging no-balls for
shadowy South Asian betting rings, was sentenced to six months in a
young offenders' institution.
Their corrupt British agent Mazhar Majeed, 36, who had also pleaded
guilty, was given the longest sentence - two years and eight months.
"These offences, regardless of pleas, are so serious that only a
sentence of imprisonment will suffice," judge Jeremy Cooke said, adding
that they would each serve half their sentences and then be released on
He said the players were motivated by greed despite the fortunes they
could earn legitimately, and said he hoped the sentences would deter
other cricketers and agents from following their "hugely detrimental"
example. The judge also condemned the "insidious effect" of their
actions on the sport of cricket itself, "the very name of which used to
be associated with fair dealing".
"It's the insidious effect of your actions on professional cricket
and the followers of it which make the offences so serious," he told the
Its "image and integrity" stands "damaged in the eyes of all,
including the many youngsters who regarded three of you as heroes".
Despite their status, he said the players had "procured the bowling
of three no-balls for money to the detriment of your national cricket
team, with the object of enabling others to cheat at gambling". Any
surprising event in a cricket match will now be suspect to suspicion, he
said. They had "betrayed" followers of the national sport in Pakistan
and let down their own supporters and cricket-lovers worldwide, he said,
adding that corruption had become the "common culture" in the Pakistan
The world of cricket has reacted with dismay to the worst fixing
scandal since South Africa captain Hansie Cronje in 2000, but the head
of the anti-corruption unit of the International Cricket Council, Ronnie
Flanagan, denied that corruption was rampant in the sport.
"The vast, vast majority of cricketers are not only wonderfully
talented, but wonderfully ethical people," he said.
The ICC has banned Butt for ten years, with five suspended, Asif for
seven years, with two suspended, and Aamer for five years straight,
sanctions which they are appealing against.
Cooke called Butt the "orchestrator" of fixing within the Pakistan
team and said that given his "leadership status", he was "more culpable
than either of your two bowlers". At her simple home outside Islamabad,
Aamer's mother Nasim Akhtar wept on hearing the sentence. "My son is
innocent and he did the no-ball at the asking of the captain," she said.
Former England captain and Times cricket correspondent Michael
Atherton called Aamer's plight "tragic" and claimed all three custodial
sentences "bordered on harsh".
"There are those who want to see blood spilt, of course, those for
whom no punishment is too severe," he wrote in Friday's edition. "Their
careers are already over. What more do people want?
"There is only sadness and the hope that, for Aamer, redemption can
be found," he added.
In the eastern city of Lahore, one of Butt's sisters, Khadija, said
the punishment was "unfair" and "shocking", adding: "His crime is that
he was at the wrong place at the wrong time." AFP