On Tuesday Pakistani cricketers Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were found guilty of plotting to cheat and to take bribes in a match against England last year. The verdict is another crushing blow to Pakistani cricket, but it serves also as an indictment of the modern game. By KHADIJA PATEL.
They were three of world cricket’s most promising players but on Wednesday they wait to hear if they will spend time in prison. Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif face time up to seven years in prison, while Mohammad Amir, who pleaded guilty to the same charges of conspiring to cheat, may escape with a softer sentence. Amir’s guilty plea had been unreported before as the court had barred the press from reporting it until the jury had reached their verdict on Butt and Asif, for fear of influencing the deliberations.
The players were accused of spot fixing, which involves deliberately throwing parts of a game rather than an entire match. Prosecutors accused Butt and Asif of taking part in a betting scam, allegedly arranged by Mazhar Majeed, during a match between Pakistan and England at Lords’ last year. The price of fixing a no-ball, Majeed was heard to have said in evidence, is $10,000. Majeed has however not been tried for corruption.
The trial revealed shocking details of the scope of corruption within world cricket. The jury was told that the betting market in the Asian subcontinent is “breathtaking in size”. Conservative estimates, the prosecution said, puts the value of the market at between $40 billion to $50 billion dollars per year. It is easily deduced that these three players are not the only cricketers caught in a web of misguided ambition and greed. Already, other big Pakistani names like Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz face investigations after claims made in this trial. But the malaise is certainly not unique to Pakistani cricket.
ICC insiders say several other international cricketers have only their luck and governing bodies to thank for escaping prosecution for similar offences. DM
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