Former players say it's a sad day for Pakistan cricket

Former Pakistan skipper Salman Butt was found guilty on two charges along with Mohammad Asif on Tuesday AFP

Karachi: Nov 1, 2011

Dismayed by the conviction of Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif in the spot-fixing scandal, Pakistan’s former players said the London Court’s verdict marks a sad day for the game in the country but the two players got what they deserved for their actions.

While some heaped scorn on the banned players for bringing a bad name to Pakistan cricket, others said Pakistan cricket needs to learn lessons from the scandal that shook the core of international cricket last year.

“I am sad about what has happened because it involves sportsmen but at the same time I think justice has been done because if you do something wrong you pay the price,” former captain Zaheer Abbas said.

The 12-man jury at the Southwark Crown Court today found Butt, 27, guilty of conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat, while Asif, 28, was convicted of the charge of conspiracy to cheat.

Abbas said he was not expecting the jury to reach a unanimous verdict so soon but was now more concerned about the quantum of punishment the players will face from the Southwark Crown Court in London.

“I just feel sad for Pakistan cricket as well because cricketers are not supposed to be associated with crime and corruption. But I think in a way it is good for Pakistan and world cricket because it should serve as a deterrent to others,” he said.

Pakistan’s former captain Rashid Latif felt that while justice had been delivered but he still felt that the two main characters in the whole scandal, Mazhar Mahmood (the News of the World reporter who conducted the sting) and bookie Mazhar Majeed deserved to be punished as well.

“They set the trap for our players which they fell into and for that they have paid the price today. Justice is all characters in this scandal be penalised,” he said.

Latif, who blew the whistle on match-fixing in Pakistan cricket for the first time in 1994, said it was also a time for the authorities to reflect on what they should have done when the menace of fixing came to their notice 17 years ago.

“If that time proper action had been taken, we would not have seen this shameful day today. Our authorities have a habit of trying to sweep such things under the mat,” he noted.

A judicial commission headed by Justice (Retd) Malik Qayyum after an 18-month inquiry in 2000 found former captain Salim Malik guilty of fixing and recommended a life ban on him and fined five other players for not cooperating with the tribunal.

But while Malik didn’t play for Pakistan again, all the five others went on to play and until recently, Waqar Younis also served as head coach of the national team.

Former captain Aamir Sohail said the Pakistan Cricket Board was to be blamed for what had happened.

“I think the PCB should have played a more pro-active role last year when the issue came up and brought the players back to Pakistan immediately and tried them under our code of conduct. They should not have let the matter go into the hands of the ICC,” Sohail said.

“It is shameful that today Pakistan cricket is facing such a day but this is what happens when you don’t react quickly enough to fight corruption,” Sohail said.

He said the entire case also raised questions about the role of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit pointing out they had failed to do anything of note all these years.

“What are they doing when people like Mazhar Majeed can still infiltrate teams and corrupt players where is their system?” he asked.

Sohail said he would also like the board to find out who was the Pakistani player who had tipped off the ‘News of the World’ about Butt and Majeed.

“I am surprised no one has tried to find this out yet.” (PTI)

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