Pakistanâ€™s captain Shahid Afridi catches a ball during a training session before their first cricket test match against Australia at Lordâ€™s cricket ground in London in this July 12, 2010 file photo. For Pakistan to have a chance of doing well in the forthcoming World Cup, Afridi will have to produce the same sort of inspirational performances as he did in the 2009 T20 World Cup.
Former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were banned for at least five years on Saturday after being found guilty of corruption by an International Cricket Council (ICC) tribunal. The suspensions essentially amounted to five years per person, with Buttâ€™s suspension being for 10 years with five of them suspended, Asif for seven years with two of the years suspended, and Amir banned for five years. Five years is the minimum ban in the ICC anti-corruption code.
These punishments were administered as a result of the playersâ€™ actions involving planned no-balls delivered in the fourth cricket test against England at Lordâ€™s last year. The three cricketers along with sports agent Mazhar Majeed from England had been charged with conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments and with conspiracy to cheat.
â€œI am not involved in spot fixing and I pleaded not guilty. But I was not expecting such a harsh decision,â€ Amir told ARY news channel. â€œThis is the blackest day of my life. I think the ban is too harsh for bowling two no-balls.â€
â€œAmir is shocked and saddened by the decision but we will be appealing to the Court of Arbitration (for Sport). The five-year ban on Amir is a big setback for him,â€ Amirâ€™s lawyer Shahid Karim said. â€œEven his young age and his prior clean record didnâ€™t convince the tribunal to be lenient with him.â€
These events were a particular shame in that these were three of Pakistanâ€™s most valuable players. Butt had risen through the ranks, and matured as a batsman, to become appointed captain, and he had established himself as a vital cog in the line-up. Mohammad Asif had become one of the teamâ€™s more dependable bowlers. Mohammad Amirâ€™s situation is particularly tragic, as the 18-year-old had only just begun his career and yet had already shown tantalizing signs of becoming one of the great young bowlers in the world.
Michael Beloff, the attorney who spear-headed the tribunal, said the suspended parts of the playersâ€™ sentences were dependent on the players committing no further breach of the anti-corruption code and attending an anti-corruption program run by the Pakistan Cricket Board. However, it has since come to light that Salman Butt had come under prior suspicion of corruption during last yearâ€™s Twenty20 World Cup, adding further murkiness to his fate. And, British prosecutors have indicated that criminal charges could be forthcoming for the trio.