Late Saturday night the three-member International Cricket Council (ICC) tribunal sent shockwaves across the cricketing world. The panel handed out punishments to Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir for their involvement in the spot-fixing scandal that gripped the world of cricket last August. Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt has been banned for 10 years with a suspended sentence of five years, Mohammad Asif is banned for seven years with two years suspended and Mohammad Aamir has received a five-year ban.
Opinion in Pakistan has been divided over the spot-fixing issue. Some quarters rightly claim that these three have brought shame not just to cricket but also Pakistan and hence should have been severely punished. Whereas, like always, it is alleged that all teams and players are involved in one form or another of betting in cricket and this case is a conspiracy against Pakistan. A bitter pill we all must swallow is that, even if other individuals are involved in betting, these three were caught. An ICC, albeit hurried, enquiry took place and these three were found guilty.
Some concerns over the harshness of this verdict are raised but the ICC wanted to set an example. The message from the ICC was clear: it would not under any circumstances compromise the integrity of the sport. This decision for all purposes has finished the cricket careers of Butt and Asif. However, there is hope for 18-year-old Aamir. Aamir from his statement and body language looked like a boy who had just realised the consequences of his actions. He is the only one who has so far decided to appeal this verdict in the international Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). Given the recommendations made by the tribunal, “certain changes to the code with a view to providing flexibility in relation to minimum sentences in exceptional circumstances” might be made. The chances are the CAS, which is known to take a compassionate stance when it comes to young players, may yet come to Aamir’s aid.However, this verdict only comes a day after the Crown Prosecution Service in England formally charged these three players for conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat. How the ICC verdict will affect the criminal proceedings and whether a fair trial can now take place, only time will tell – Dailytimes