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Cricket trio get lengthy bans

February 05, 2011

spot fixing
This file combination of pictures show Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, (L) Mohammad Asif (C) and Mohammad Aamer. - AFP Photo

DOHA: The ICC found three Pakistani players guilty of corruption on Saturday and banned each of them from cricket for at least five years in the sport’s biggest scandal of the past decade.

Former captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir received their punishment at an International Cricket Council tribunal in Doha. Butt was given a 10-year ban with five years suspended, Asif a seven-year ban with two suspended, while Aamir was banned for five years.

The players have 21 days to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. “We will appeal to Court of Arbitration for Sport,” said Shahid Karim, Amir’s lawyer.

“This sentence is too harsh when Amir did nothing wrong. We are very confident that the arbitration court will give us a result in our favour.”

Amir said he was shocked and disappointed at being handed the ban. “I am shocked and hugely disappointed. I wasn’t expecting that much of a ban,” he said minutes after the tribunal hearing.

“I was confident that I will get away without any punishment, but this is very hard on me. I have just come out of the hearing and have told my family who have tried to console me.”

The players had been suspended since Sept 3 after a British tabloid alleged they bowled no-balls at prearranged times during the fourth Test between Pakistan and England in August at Lord’s to fix ‘spot-betting’ markets. It is alleged that The News of the World newspaper paid 150,000 pounds ($241,000) to the players’ agent, Mazhar Majeed.

Michael Beloff, the head of the ICC’s corruption unit, said the proven charges related to the Lord’s Test rather than a preceding match at The Oval.

“The tribunal found that... Mr Asif agreed to bowl and did bowl a deliberate no ball in the Lord’s Test match played between Pakistan and England from 26 to 29 August 2010, Mr Amir agreed to bowl and did bowl two deliberate no balls in the same Test, and Mr Butt was party to the bowling of those deliberate no balls, were proved,” Beloff said in a statement.

The tribunal cleared Butt of batting out a maiden over during the Test at The Oval for financial gain, but proved the charge against the opening batsman of failing to report an illegal approach by Majeed.

The players were mobbed by dozens of supporters when they walked out of the tribunal after the verdict was announced, the fans chanting slogans in support of them.

“The ruling is not fair. They (ICC) are doing it just to the Pakistan players,” said Yasir Ghumman, a 26-year-old Pakistani who works as a sales executive in Doha. “The World Cup will be starting soon and the ICC is just trying to pressurise Pakistan.”

Butt and Asif — who along with Amir had faced a six-day ICC hearing that ended on Jan 11 — will have to participate in an anti-corruption programme supervised by the Pakistan Cricket Board in order to not have the suspended part of their sentences imposed.

On Friday, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said the players and their agent would face criminal charges in that country, summoning them on charges of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat.

CPS head Simon Clements said the organisation, which was responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by British police, believed it had enough proof to convict the players. “We are satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute,” Clements said on Friday.—Agencies