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The loss of innocence

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Adam Mountford | 16:17 UK time, Thursday, 3 November 2011

"My message to the followers of cricket is keep following, keep loving this wonderful game."

This was the rallying call from Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the head of the ICC's anti-corruption unit, despite the jailing of three Pakistan cricketers and the agent Mazhar Majeed.

The message is great in theory - but in practice, just how easy is it going to be to convince cricket supporters that they are always watching sportsmen trying their very best?

The judge at Southwark Crown Court, Mr Justice Cooke, expressed his fear that cricket could be forever tainted by the scandal.

"Whenever in the future there are surprising events or results, followers of the game who have paid good money to watch it live or watch it on television will be left to wonder whether there has been fixing and whether what they have been watching is a genuine contest between bat and ball," he said.

A board outside Southwark Crown Court lists the Pakistan players' sentences

Events at Southwark Crown Court have rocked the world of cricket. Picture: Reuters

I remember very clearly getting a call at around eight o'clock on the evening of Saturday, 28 August 2010 from one of my contacts telling me a big story was about to break in the News of the World.

I immediately called to warn correspondent Jonathan Agnew, but neither of us had any inclination just how shocking the revelations would prove to be. The BBC news that night was difficult to believe as the secret recordings were played alongside footage from the Test match.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have a job where I really look forward to going to work each day. But the following morning I remember turning up at Lord's with the overriding feeling of "what's the point?".

The atmosphere in the Test Match Special box was really strange that morning with commentators having no real idea of what to say. There were even debates about whether we should attempt a "normal" ball-by-ball commentary in the context of what was being alleged. The reason for this lack of enthusiasm was the feeling that if the cricketers weren't really trying - why should we?

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It was such a shame because the day before had been one of my favourites as Test Match Special producer. On the face of it, the cricket had been highly dramatic with Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad breaking numerous batting records before England's bowlers tore through Pakistan taking 14 wickets inside two sessions.

The TMS box was a lively and vibrant place that day with lots of visitors enjoying the cricket. At one point in the afternoon we had our "View from the Boundary" guest, dancer Anton Du Beke listening to pop group Scouting for Girls playing live, while Oscar-nominated actress Imelda Staunton arrived with a cake she had baked specially for the TMS team.

We had an eclectic mix of guests united by their love of the game. Innocently we thought they had fortuitously chosen a dramatic Test to watch. Little did we know that the match would be remembered for very different reasons.

For me it is this loss of innocence which is one of the saddest aspects of this whole story. What I love about sport is the drama and the unpredictability. When I turn up at a cricket match I love the feeling that anything can happen that day.

Teams can fight back from seemingly impossible positions or collapse when looking impregnable. But will we now always believe it? Already, broadcasters are becoming more and more suspicious.

In the TMS commentary box, I normally sit at a desk behind the broadcasters and I admit that more than a few times I have shared a knowing glance with a commentator when a "surprising" incident occurs. It is more than likely that such moments are not at all suspicious, but what is so sad is that we now have to question them.

And then there are the most important people - the supporters. I was talking in my last blog about the worrying trend of attendances falling at some international matches. I raised such issues as too much cricket, ticket prices and scheduling.

But could a factor be that fans want to be sure what they see is genuine? I am not suggesting for a moment that recent games are in question - but it is the perception which is the problem.

I want to keep loving this wonderful game - but the game may take some time to recover.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    All very regrettable but I would like to focus on a narrow issue. Sentencing guidelines suggest a minimum discount of one third for a guilty plea, so the starting point for Amir must have been at least 9 months. How could it be reasonable to sentence the youngest and most vulnerable defendant to 9 months (before discount) whilst only sentencing the much older (and recipient of much more money) Asif to one year. The judge is a clown and has brought the court into disrepute. Either Asif should have got longer or Amir less. If this is not the case then why bother to plead guilty and lets get rid of mitigation. My own feeling is that Amir should be given a second chance. We have seen the pressure that can be put on young Pakistani players in the past (I recall one doing a runner and another being forced to withdraw evidence by threats to his family). However, throw away the keys for the others. Butt and Asif should get life bans from cricket but 2 years for Amir seems fair to encourage youngsters in the future.

  • Comment number 2.

    As unpalatable as it is it would be naive to assume that the fixing begins and ends with the Pakistan team and also begins and ends with cricket. Let's not try and kid ourselves that it's something other teams do, that we are whiter than white. For me, the beginning of the end came when sport decided to sell itself to the highest bidder. When it became more important to make a lot of money than it was just to play the game. Once you remove the money from the game all you are left with is the pure sport. How wonderful it would be if we could ever return to such a point.

  • Comment number 3.

    Adam - I think the biggest concern here is that clearly there were many others involved in seemingly more than a few other matches. If the players sentenced today really wanted to now play a part in the rehabilitation of the sport then they should now come forth with every name and event that this took place. Without knowing exactly how and when and where the "bad guys" get to the players the ICC - who, lets not forget, where tipped off at the same time as the NOTW but didn't find anything - will not be able to get a grip on it.

  • Comment number 4.

    #1 "Either Asif should have got longer or Amir less. If this is not the case then why bother to plead guilty and lets get rid of mitigation"

    In answer to your point here I think, reading the sentencing remarks, two things prevented Amir getting a shorter sentence. The first was that in his mitigation statement he cited pressure put upon him to take part in the fix and the prevalent culture of cheating in the team but then refused to testify at a Newton hearing exposing the exact nature and individuals involved in the pratice. The second was his mitigation claim that it was a one off isolated offence which the Judge deemed, based upon the evidence submitted, to be an improbable claim.

    Refusing to co-operate in helping to clean up the game yet relying on the normalisation of cheating as a defence and saying it was a one off incident when it was proven not to be weighed against the credit he received for pleading guilty. Thats my interpretation of the sentencing rationale anyway.

  • Comment number 5.

    ADAM

    The only one harshly dealt with is Amir. Not because of his age, but because he entered an interational dressing room where corruption was already clearly very well entrenched. I really do think a suspended sentence might have been applicable for him simply because of that.

    The problem(#3)is that these events were over a year ago, otherwise I'd agree with you. But there ain't gonna be any piles of smoking or marked bank-notes any more & that means one man's word against another-can you imagine the uproar if the ICC took the word of a convicted criminal against anyone else who DID also take part;sorry, but that is a kangaroo court.

    The best thing to do with this is draw a line under it. The jail sentences will indeed send shockwaves through the cricketing world and people like the ICC now have to address the problem of how they keep crooked bookies & syndicates out of the player's hair-not easy, I must say.

    The only other thing that irks me is that, as with the football bribes scandal in 1964, the real corruptors weren't in the dock here, you know, the people in Malaysia, India & elsewhere who've made MILLIONS out of it.

    And just in case anyone thinks this mentality is confined to Pakistan, aren't you proud to live in a country like this, where a mere £975,000 donation to the Government party just happens to ensure you get multi-million contracts awarded. Anyone spot the difference between that & this affair? Thought not!

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    CMT346; I take your points about the judges rationale but it in no way addresses the comparison between the sentences of Asif and Amir. If I were Amir I would be reluctant to name names given the recent history of Pakistan cricket. Haider did a runner from the team after being threatened in 2010. I wish I could remember the name of the cricketer who was forced to withdraw testimony in circa 2000 when his brother went missing in the UK. There are some very nasty individuals involved in Pakistani cricket (easy to find names and background with a bit of googling) and I would not want to put myself or my family in danger by going up against them. If Amirs barrister failed to point this out to the judge he has failed his client.

  • Comment number 8.

    As a Law student, I was hoping to see some real punishment being shelved out by the courts to really hammer home the fact that English Law is one not to be meddled with. However, as a dedicated fan of Pakistan, I wish the sentences had been much more proportionate in nature.

    Salman Butt for me was the ringleader here, despite his accusations that Mazhar Majeed instigated the scam. He was in a position of authority and knew he could easily manipulate certain elements of the game through tactics, fielding positions or simply ordering a player to do his bidding. It was also documented how he ousted former captains Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi from the position of captain. This shows real malice and intent to profit on another individuals downfall. For me, a sentence of 30 months (15 on good behaviour) is far too lenient and suggests the courts were taken a much more softer stance on the players for some reason.

    Mohammed Asif on the other hand, was handed down a 1 year sentence. Considering that the jury heard that he was paid over £60,000 to remain a part of Butt's racketeering organisation and to not defect to another party within the dressing room , a years sentence is far too soft. I doubt his money will ever be recovered, and £60,000 is a huge amount when converted to local rupees. No doubt once his sentence is over, he will be able to reap the rewards of his ill-gotten gains.

    Was Amir hard done by this fiasco? A kid being told that he will make a quick couple of grand for balling two wayward deliveries was surely going to snap up the opportunity to make a few quid. On top of that, he had entered a dressing room already deeply entrenched in corruption and rivalry. This poor lad had to align himself with a group in order to avoid total isolation. Thus the seeds of this young boy's error were sown. This is of course the story the defence tried to put across. Even if it has elements of truth, it is not an adequate enough defence to explain why our great game was used as an opportunity by individuals to profit from. However, as a fan who used to immensely respect Amir; the cricketer and the boy, I can only hope after his 6 month spell in a Young Offenders institute, he will start a new chapter in his career and we will welcome him back (albeit somewhat tentatively).

    My fear is that despite the ICC's claim that corruption is not a rampant business, the reality will remain the opposite. We've heard that Asif had the luxury to choose a racketeering group, which no doubt still exists in the dressing room. That in itself is a sickening thought; how players can assess how to cheat and who with in relation to personal profit. We can only hope that this incident prompts the ICC and all its domestic boards to lead a comprehensive deep-clean of its organisations in order to eliminate this cancerous element of the game.

    As a final point, I can only say how much sorrow it brings me as a devout cricketing fan to see our game in tatters and effectively in the gutter. The millions of supporters who follow this sport and relish its every aspect must now question the legality of every surprise dismissal, shock defeat...or an extraordinarily large no-ball.

  • Comment number 9.

    The "isolated incident" excuse offered by the ICC doesn't seem to be consistent with the facts of the case, rather with their desire to sweep everything under the rug and get back to making money. With the sums involved in all forms of professional sports, they are more properly viewed as entertainment. They are as real as reality TV.

  • Comment number 10.

    In my view Aamir got of lightly. Two factors stood out. One: Its not entirely credible that he was pressurized into the crime because he was quite active on the phone about the fix and what was there in it for him. Two. There was little repentance from him as he refused to earnestly co-operate with the clean up process.

    I think it was only fear of the quantum of punishment that guided the distance he went in co-operation. He had a big chunk of sympathy all round on account of his age but he hardly acted it(his age).

    Mazhar Majeed was at the root of it all. He got off very lightly by claiming it was Butt who roped him in. That claim is a little suspect in view of his connections and the organizing abilities he displayed in the crime, very unexpected of a new recruit.

    While the cricketers have suffered impairment or loss of their only means of earning their livelihood, Majeed has forfeited, perhaps only temporarily merely his criminal ways of maintaining an opulent way of life. He should have been incarcerated for 5 years at the least.

  • Comment number 11.

    This is a good sentence, and sends out the right message about cheats. Cricket will look good with this punishment.

    I hope the snooker governing bodies are playing close attention, instead of just kissing the backside of their current World Champion!

  • Comment number 12.

    I totally agree with all that Adam says, but would just like to point out what seems to me to be an overlooked cause of this sorry saga ie what constitutes a 'bet' these days.

    The bookies are in such desperate competition that they have opened their books to all sorts of spurious bets that realistically can't be policed and therefore they leave themselves wide open to corruption.

    If they were to revert to a narrower range of bets that require less policing, the potential for a lot of this cheating will be removed.

  • Comment number 13.

    7 alb1on:
    The individual whose name you are looking for from 2000 is Ata-ur-Rehman.

  • Comment number 14.

    I do not for a moment condone what these cricketers did and they deserve some sort of punishment - whether it is jail for this long, I dont know. However, what I dont understand is that why justice seems to apply for only one set of people.

    What about John Higgins? He was caught accepting money for fixing frames - the amount was in fact much higher (£ 261 K) and all he got was a slap on the wrist! Not even a court case or ban!! How is that justice??

    In the Higgins case, NOTW was lambasted for 'entrapping' him. Wow, someone of his age, education and sophistication, playing for 18 years and who was already extremely rich can be entrapped but the same argument does not apply for a young village boy like Amir with no education, having never seen big money before.

    Well, the reasons are not difficult to seek but you draw your own conclusions!!

  • Comment number 15.

    The innocence of cricket has not been destroyed by this case! For me it was destroyed when some like Hansie Cronje (one of the most well respected and highly regarded characters in the game) admits to fixing matches.
    Ever since then there has been accusation and counter accusation (take the comments a few years back between the Indian and Australian teams) and for this period of time to be 'book ended' by 2 such high profile cases I doubt very much that there is no substance to those accusations over the last 10 years!
    I still love cricket and know that the vast majority of it is fine, but also remember that it's just a sport so enjoy it for what it is!

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Cricket will never be the same for me since the Hansie Cronje scandal. I am British but was living in SA at the time. It rocked the South African cricket world and fans as it was so unexpected. During that time it was obvious that someone's head had to roll and that was Hansie but he was not the only one guilty. There were other people in the SA team involved as well as in other teams. This again was Asian bookmakers who influenced it. This is not anything against Asian people, it's simple economics.Betting on cricket is a huge business there, if it was the same here it would be British bookmakers. I still love the game but there will always be doubt now for me.

  • Comment number 18.

    14: Kris, yes the reasons are pretty clear aren't they?

    I'm surprised that they received a jail sentence but it's important that people have trust in a sport and hopefully this will go some way to convincing people that there is enough of a deterrant to avoid this in the future.

  • Comment number 19.

    #13 1fcmjc; thank you for the info. I think that anyone on this blog who thinks Amir would have been wise to name names need only look up the details of this case.

  • Comment number 20.

    Sadly I think the judge should not have hesitated to say "this is the tip of the iceberg" as he did. Personally I stopped watching 50 over cricket after 31/5/99: the day of the infamous Pakistan/Bangladesh World Cup match. Even in England I heard whispers about the integrity of that match, a dead rubber where losing would have no effect on Pakistan who had already qualified. I did a few sums and realised it would not take a huge bet on the odds available (Bangladesh were 9/2 if I recall correctly) to have enough to pay the Pakistan players more than they would win for winning the entire World Cup and make a tidy profit. It was only today I learned that a newspaper in Pakistan predicted the result 20 days before the match!
    Yet despite the fact that people knew match-fixing was going on the structure of the World Cup seemed almost designed to facilitate it, with a plethora of meaningless matches against pitching Test nations against minor ones.
    The Qayyim report produced damning findings against a number of major figures in Pakistan cricket, yet most of those severely criticised in it were soon back in influential positions, and indeed were on the coaching staff of both sides in the series in which the events being tried took place.
    After the infamous test in Australia which Pakistan lost from an impregnable position players were given life bans (though the precise reasons were not made public) and were playing against England six months after a "life" ban!
    While most of the examples I've given have concerned Pakistan, and I think it's clear that the problem is most entrenched in Pakistan cricket, I don't think it's confined to Pakistan. I don't follow the IPL, and I am aware there are concerns about spot-fixing there,but at least Mohammed Azarhuddin's life ban wasn't rescinded immediately, indicating that players caught in India have more to fear than temporary inconvenience, which is what a life ban in Pakistan has seemed to equate to in practice. I gather there is a trial pending involving English county cricket too.
    It's no good pretending this was an isolated incident: other player have been involved and must be pursued. The cricket administration in Pakistan must be thoroughly investigated, and the finances of cricket in that country: while corruption cannot be condoned it's easy to see why players from Pakistan are especially vulnerable to temptation when they are paid a fraction of their counterparts in India or England.
    And those players found guilty of spot-fixing, not all of whom are from Pakistan, should be banned for life from professional cricket. The ICC's five year bans for this trio were far too lenient for Asif and Butt, though I have some sympathy for Amir, an 18 year old coming into an environment where corruption was the norm.

  • Comment number 21.

    With the money never recovered from the NOW and not fully accounted surely HMRC have the powers under money laundering regulations to fully investigate, where the funds went, and therefore have the powers to access individual bank accounts, assets etc.. to see a money trail, and see who else was involved.

    A black day for cricket but lets of hope cricket can move on, any players who needs support get support and protection from the players union, the ICC and the local cricket boards to erradicate cheating in cricket.

  • Comment number 22.

    I guess these doubts have been in the audience mind since Azharuddin's episode, it became worse with Cronje confessions and just when people were erasing those memories, the new episode. ICC has not done enough to get over the fixing. It should come up with solutions to solve this for once and all, however harsh it might be on players, coz without audience I dont think any of the cricketers would be motivated to perform

  • Comment number 23.

    I think the one out of this entire thing I can be happy with is the English Test Team is probably not involved. Only because of Strauss' reaction when accused or it was even merely suggested I think had he not been a dignified gentlemen he would of liberally applied a Cricket Bat to whoever did suggest his team was corrupt. Equally said he'd do the same to anyone who he knew to be doing so within the team.

    That said I don't think the English are 'above' it as the aforementioned case in County Cricket however most of this requires the Captain which is why I think the test team is 'safe'.

  • Comment number 24.

    Come on Adam ! What world are you actually living in ? I find it impossible to believe that a TMS producer who has watched a huge amount of Test match cricket over the years can be surprised that this has happened. Following Azharuddin and Cronje the writing has been on the wall, and this i am sure is the very tip of a very large iceberg indeed. There have been murmurings that the insidious force of match fixing or cheating has been tarnishing the game for as long as i can remember and to suggest that this represents cricket "losing it's innocence" is laughable. Tabloid journalist sensationalist stuff. Of course we hope that our fantastic game recovers from this cancer eating away at it, but too many people have put their head in the sand over it for too long, pretending it doesn't exist, and this kind of article only helps perpetuate the myth that cricket is still some kind of barometer of good manners and arbiter of ethics.

  • Comment number 25.

    No 7 & 19: Alb1on - Thank you for seeing the bigger picture. Haider hurriedly flees his country and retires from international cricket at only 24. There are greater forces at work here than just a big mouthed agent.

  • Comment number 26.

    For some reason i don't necessarily feel that they should have been handed jail sentences. Banned yes. But this will be a humongous deterrent, no question about that. Asif was a bit of a genius with the ball but he's always had his problems on and off the field. Salman Butt was the surprise really. I want to be a little lenient on Amir, he's young and getting influenced is very easy in such an environment. But he's earning decent money from his board so i think some punishment was necessary. I think the game will move on pretty quickly.

  • Comment number 27.

    "I immediately called to warn correspondent Jonathan Agnew, but neither of us had any inclination just how shocking the revelations would prove to be."

    Inclination? I must say the standard of English on this BBC web site is getting worse.

  • Comment number 28.

    Anyone think the only reason England have had such a good year is because the opposition - all of them - were all being paid to play badly?

    Instinctively I think match-/spot-fixing must be limited to those teams which do not earn vast sums. The English and Australian teams are well remunerated playing for their countries while the Indians (and those players purchased from overseas) have the IPL. The Pakistani team is not well paid for turning out for their country and their players are unwanted by IPL franchises. Not sure if this is because of the poor quality of Pakistan players at the moment or xenophobia. It is only natural that jealousy of the riches on offer to players in other countries will arise, with this being the result. Stamp out inequality and these things don't happen.

  • Comment number 29.

    No man should ever be imprisoned for cheating at sport, the disgrace of being found out as a cheat is punishment enough.

    The solution I believe is the cricket authorities have to uninvent the technology that has invaded the sport. Stump cam, no-ball cam, Hawkeye etc. these technologies were introduced under the guise of making the sport more interesting. It has the effect of making the result more 'understandable' or 'verifiable' to inveterate gamblers who have little interest in the game. Let cricket return to a basic umpire view camera and let the gamblers go back to backing horses.

    I feel a period of technology-free cricket, at all levels, under the control of the cricketing organisations will go a long way to break the unholy alliance between broadcasters and betting.

    Remember a high rolling gambler will not punt on a sport where the result is dependent on the split second judgement of an umpire. But lovers of the game know these decisions are part of the folklore and interest in the game we play and watch.

  • Comment number 30.

    All matches involving Pakistan are suspect and have been for some time. Limited overs cricket is best regarded as just a bit of fun and if it sometimes comes to resemble professional wrestling, then so what? If it entertains and allows poor punters to reassign their cash to rich bookies and criminals then more fool them. The real test of skill is the Test Match, that matters. Punishment for corruption must be based on continual and ruthless scrutiny and should involve the individuals concerned being banned for life and more importantly their team being banned from any competition for a period of time. This latter I feel would result in the internal self policing of players and the peer pressure on individuals to keep the game clean would be enormous. Should Test cricket come to be perceived as dishonest then it will become as worthless a spectacle as top level football, with its diving, whining and cheating. In other words it would cease to be a spectacle worth watching.

  • Comment number 31.

    @29 It's not the technology that needs to be "uninvented". It's the spread-betting firms. I've always thought that the ability to bet on a single event within a match brings the ability to unfairly influence that event.

    What this case has done is only to show the cartels that if you fix matches in England you will be caught and punished. Nowhere else. This case needs to be replicated across the cricket-playing world in every country, so that the fixers and agents truly have nowhere to hide.

  • Comment number 32.

    I have been a bookmaker for many years and I am afraid "fixing" in sport has been endemic from time immemorial.
    From drug induced athletes,snooker players fixing the frames, tennis matches,bent world cup referees who have finished up in prison for drug running let alone fixing football matches.
    The cricket scandal really is no different, other than the expression we use "its not cricket" meaning that cricket is beyond reproach.But different countries and cultures see nothing wrong , for example in Italy at the end of the season of one team letting the other side beat them. Its just doing a favour which is to be retuned "A la Godfather".
    This Pakistani business was all about greed.Never in a million years would bona fide bookmakers from around the world be taking more than two bob on whether there was going to be no ball. Yes, of course I know about spot betting, but even in this you would not find amounts like the News of the World sting involved.
    Good for the newspaper exposing this corruptness,but I am afraid, does anybody really think that corruptness is going to be eradicated from sport, when the World Cup was "awarded by FIFA to Qatar in 2022.
    I am feeling a bit peckish right now and will vote for Antartica for the World Cup in 2026 for a large cheeseburger. A lot of sport is rotton with corruption from the top to the bottom. Dont blame the bookmakers, I am afraid its humane nature. Its called GREED,

  • Comment number 33.

    I watched the DVD of Headingly 1981 last night. The interview with Dennis Lillee was amazing. He bet against his own team. I'd never questioned it before but sadly it's going to take the game years to recover. The ICC needs a revamp. Strauss is correct, toothless tigers. How's about a legally binding contract with the ICC before any person can play professional cricket. That would stop them running scared of the courts

  • Comment number 34.

    @28 I've got no idea why they don't allow Pakistani players in the IPL. It just sends a very bad message to both Indian and Pakistani society.

    Although Pakistan's standards have dropped, they do have fantastic players that are suited to the 20/20 format (Afridi springs to mind).

    I think it just shows a lack of class.

  • Comment number 35.

    it's surreal, banged up with porridge for breakfast for bowling a no-ball. If they're betting on details like no-balls then doesn't that show that they've actually found a way to rig the book without subverting the outcome of the match? Couple of extras here and there aren't going to fix a match, nothing like.

    And if people are betting on no-balls, and losing their money cos it's been fixed, are we supposed to feel sorry for them?

    And how about Dennis Lillee? England were dead and buried in that Headingley Test, till he had that punt against himself at 500s. That was all supposed to be "lads will be lads" as I recall, slapped wrist and get someone else to place your bets in future. Can't be corrupt, just jolly larrikins. Yeah, right....

    We've had 3 Test captains brought down big-time by the gambling - Azzrudhin, Cronje and Butt. What about the umpires though? If I was going to try and fix a cricket match I'd be looking to buy an umpire or two. Are they above suspiscion somehow?

    12 months pokey for bowling a no-ball though. 'S crazy, man....

    peace

    DYes

  • Comment number 36.

    #35 Harper would be where I's look first but I just thought he was rubbish. No where near an 'International' Umpire.

    The issue with an Umpires is their decision's are up to huge scrutiny by replays even with shockers you can understand them. A no-ball barely gets looks (unless you bowl one like Amir) as it's just an something that happen's in game. If you're over the line no one really says anything apart from what a numpty. Amir's were ridiculous as noted by Aggers and Whispering Death himself and possibly should of raised more questions than they did until the NOTW stuff came out.

  • Comment number 37.

    ICC anti-corruption scenario. Do you take bribes to fix matches? Answer (No) Ok, next.....

  • Comment number 38.

    Agree about Amir, I think its a tough sentence. He is no more than a pawn in all this. At 18 he was hardly an adult.

    I think his guilty plea, his remorse and the relative lesser scale of his
    "corruption" warranted a suspended sentence at worst. Even 3 months in Feltham
    is going to be very hard on him.

  • Comment number 39.

    Before this ever cropped up, there was a match in Sri Lanka where India needed 1 run to win and Sehwag was on strike and on 99. Surprise surprise, the next ball was a no-ball! How much was it worth to the bookies for Sehwag not to get 100? Why wasn't that investigated? How big a no-ball was that one? Why was there no investigation there?

  • Comment number 40.

    Although as a cricket follower I'm deeply saddened to see our cricketers indulging themselves in such soul less petty crimes however when I see the larger picture of the society which is so hypocrite, I'm even deeply concerned about the future of the human race as a whole. Today's value system totally ignores the rule of law when it comes to punish criminals like Tony Blair, Musharaf & Bush et al who have brought death & destruction to millions of lives with total impunity while we don't hesitate to take the credit of bringing justice to petty criminal cricketers. Do we've any sense of proportion? Do we really know that all of us are leading towards a definite pit of misery with this hypocracy? Time to wake up & stop pretending that all is well otherwise.

  • Comment number 41.

    The jail sentence for all three cricketers are way to soft. For what they have done to world of cricket and the damage they have done, they should have been given a longer ban or even a lifetime ban. They don't deserve to play cricket again. Pakistan are currently playing very good without them and already replaced their places with new talent.

  • Comment number 42.

    I agree with SportsFan, how is it feasible that any of these three should be allowed to play professional cricket again? Imagine watching them playing having paid good money for your ticket? I for one cant and won't be. Its a huge shame that the true 'beautiful game' has been tarnished in this way. Greed in modern society just becomes more and more a problem.

  • Comment number 43.

    For me this is the tip of an iceberg and not because I believe that cheating is widespread. I would think it is more widespread than the 'heads in the sand' ICC would have it but thats not my point.

    Cricket,at large has moved itself on two fronts over the past twenty or so years. It has sold itself to the highest tv bidder 'harlot' fashion and it has chosen to concentrate its appeal upon those who do not so much love cricket as love anything which is crash,bang,wallop and requires very little in the way of concentration.

    Small wonder then that players have taken the same lead. Anything goes as long as it pays. Not all cricketers have this attitude and the vast majority would not break the law but that does not absolve them from their share of the blame. They must stop seeking financial glory at every turn. The players know full well that T20 owes more to luck than anything else,there is a 'skill' to it particularly as a bowler but it does nothing for a players technique and absolutely nothing for the image of the game in the eyes of those who do love it,have loved it for whole lifetimes and will continue to love it in its purest form. Such people are dismissed as dinosaurs by the media men who have the ears of those in high administrative players. Until those administrators listen to the traditionalists more and the media moguls less cricket cannot hope to recover its stature.

    It is all very well saying that its a short career,cricketers must be able to make a living etc. I agree but there are limits and selling the very soul of the sport to the highest bidder goes beyond those limits. Cricket must accept that its basic product is not particularly 'tv friendly' in the modern age and live with it. It should not be 'tailoring' the game to suit television for money. By continuing to do just that the game continues to send the message that cricket is about financial gain first and foremost. That some cricketers have taken that message far too literally is too sad for words but let us not deny that the sport,as a whole,has taken itself down this path or accept the ICC message that the genie cannot be put back into the bottle. It can be and it must be,if not the game will be tainted forevermore.

  • Comment number 44.

    I can't help feeling that Amir is a victim here, he is a supremely talented young man. cricket will be poorer for his absence, such a waste. Salman Butt as his captain had a duty of care which he neglected. My sentence specifically for Amir would have been to plat cricket on the proviso that he would "chaperone" young international cricketers, warn them of the temptations from corrupt "teammates" bringing this all into the open. Would he have known at the time this was not "normal" I feel so sad for him. I think the sentence is terribly harsh. I love cricket, as a gentlemans game played in the spirit of fairness, Amir has made a mistake, please give the lad a chance to put it right.

  • Comment number 45.

    #36

    If an umpire was in cahoots with the betting cartels, it would be in the area of lbw decisions where he could influence the outcome of a game. The introduction of new technology, such as Hawkeye, to eliminate howlers given by umpires, should have countered or exposed any such corruption, if such exists. In this context, am I being overly cynical to question the bone fides of the BCCI and many of the senior Indian players in refusing to accept Hawkeye technology?

 

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