Imprisoned Pakistan cricket cheats bring ‘shame’ on a nation

FORMER Pakistan captain Salman Butt and team-mates Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were last night beginning jail sentences for their part in the spot-fixing scandal which has tainted the “image and integrity of cricket”.

Teenager Amir will be detained for six months in a young offenders institution, while Butt, 27, has been jailed for 30 months and former world No2 Test bowler Mohammad Asif will spend a year behind bars.

All three were found guilty on Tuesday of plotting to bowl deliberate no-balls in the Lord’s Test against England last summer. Mazhar Majeed, 36, accused of being the ring-leader and instigator of the scandal, was jailed for two years and eight months.

The judge, Mr Justice Cooke, in his sentencing remarks told the defendants: “‘It’s not cricket’ was an adage. It is the insidious effect of your actions on professional cricket and the followers of it that make the offences so serious.

“The image and integrity of what was once a game but is now a business is damaged in the eyes of all, including the many youngsters who regarded you as heroes and would have given their eye teeth to play at the levels and with the skills that you had.”

The Pakistan Cricket Board said the conviction of the players was “a sad day” for cricket in their country, while former skipper Imran Khan (inset) admitted a radical overhaul of the country’s cricket infrastructure was required in order to stave off the threat of corruption.

“It is a shameful day for Pakistan cricket,” said Imran, who captained his nation to their greatest ever achievement – winning the 1992 World Cup. “Our system needs to be radically changed. Only then will we be able to rid ourselves of corruption.

“I feel very sad not only for the players but for Pakistan and its cricket. But the fact is that when these players see corrupt people flourishing in our society they think they can get away with anything.”

Butt’s solicitor, Paul Harris, said he would be lodging an appeal against the severity of his sentence within 24 hours, while Amir’s barrister, Henry Blaxland QC, claimed his client would appeal against his sentence.

GUILTY FOUR | THE SENTENCES
Salman Butt: Former Pakistan captain jailed for 30 months.

Mohammad Asif: Former world No2 Test bowler jailed for 12 months.

Mohammad Amir: Youngest player to take 50 Test wickets jailed for six months at a young offenders institute.

Mazhar Majeed: London-based sports agent jailed for two years and eight months.