To call the climatic proceedings of the spot-fixing trial at Southwark court in early November sensational would perhaps be an understatement, but amidst the wild claims of agent Mazher Majeed and attempts by the three Pakistan cricketers to heap the blame on each other it shouldn’t be forgotten that Butt, Asif and worst of all Amir were all sent to jail for their roles in the News of the World sting.
At the time we thought that time behind bars was justified for Butt, given his privileged background and role as captain, and Asif, who was old enough to know better. However, a fairer sentence for both would simply have been for the ICC to hand both perpetrators lifetime bans (something that needs to be provisioned for future offenders).
Like Michael Atherton and Mike Brearley, whose camp it is reassuring to be in, we feel that Amir should have been shown clemency due to his age, admission of guilt and the fact that he was clearly led astray by his supposed betters.
Of the three, Amir is the only one with a realistic chance of redemption once his five year ban from the game ends and what better than for him to work with the PCB and ICC to educate others of the terrible risks involved of crossing the boundary that must not be crossed.
The forthcoming trial of former Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield for a similar offence shows that this is not a problem restricted to Pakistan or international cricket and it is to be hoped that the ICC and individual county boards have received the wake-up call that they clearly needed.
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