Cricket losing the fight to find cheats
Ever since the Pakistan spot-fixing scandal broke last August, cricket has been coming to terms with the painful reality that it is still vulnerable to corruption.
Today's conclusion of the trial of Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif has not changed that reality. Both men were found guilty of conspiracy to cheat - and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments.
They and Mohammad Amir - who we now know pleaded guilty to the same charges as his team-mates - were all banned by the International Cricket Council for breaking the governing body's anti-corruption code in February.
What the case has done is remind everyone in the starkest way possible that the sport's current measures for tackling the influence of the gambling industry are inadequate.
Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif's trial has been prolonged and painful for cricket. Photos: Reuters
Even for a sport which had to deal with the Hansie Cronje fixing affair, the conviction of three Test match players for conspiracy is a new low.
In the decade since the Cronje scandal - where the South African captain was given a life-ban from cricket after admitting taking money to fix certain elements of matches - the terms of the game have changed.
Like the fight against doping, it takes a high-profile case like this to realise just how far behind the authorities are.
This is cricket's Balco (for those who need to refresh their memory here's a good backgrounder). Like that scandal it took a third party - and not anti-doping authorities - to expose what was going on.
In cricket's case it was a legitimate and brilliant piece of investigative journalism which revealed a shameful practice which many in cricket had long suspected.
I spoke to former England captain Michael Vaughan earlier this week and he told me there were games he played in which didn't feel right. Speak to any player or coach in the game and they will probably tell you something similar.
But until the News of the World published their story there was no hard evidence.
Now we have a clear view of how, to borrow the prosecution's description, "shadowy but influential" figures from the betting industry pull cricket's strings.
The numbers involved are enormous. Ravi Sawani, the former head of the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU) told the court the industry was worth $50bn (£31bn).
It has all been driven by the growth of satellite television, which allows bookmakers operating in the subcontinent to offer bets on games played anywhere in the world.
The variety of bets are also mind-boggling. Punters are not only offered bets on the timing of no-balls and wides. But there are also brackets - where you gamble on the number of runs scored in a set period of overs - and bets on how many players will wear sunglasses. Vaughan even said he had heard of bets being offered on what type of hat a team captain wears.
In his evidence Sawani added that it was now possible in India to bet on specific incidents - like a no-ball - just 10 seconds before the bowler arrives at the crease.
All these tiny events might seem inconsequential but they are easier to manipulate than the outcome of matches.
The ICC must seek to ensure that players are beyond the reach of corrupt agents. Photo: Getty
So how does cricket police this?
England captain Andrew Strauss said recently that the fight against corruption was "woefully under-resourced". A similar sentiment has been voiced by Australia's Shane Watson, who questions whether the sport really wants to get to the bottom of what's going on.
According to the international cricket council's most recent financial report, the governing body spent just $877,000 (£550,000) on the fight against corruption. A spokesman said the final number was actually more than $2m (£1.25m).
Even if it is that higher figure, that is still only 1% of the $200m (£125m) the prosecution said could be wagered on a single Twenty20 match in Mumbai. No wonder the authorities say they need the help of governments and police to try to keep up with the fixers.
In the short term, the ICC's attention will turn to the other Pakistan players named in this trial - Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz. The prosecution claimed there were "deep, deep suspicions" around Riaz and Kamran Akmal in particular but that they were not confident of proving their links to the conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt.
The burden of proof for the ICC is slightly less demanding (in some lesser breaches of the anti-corruption code it is on the balance of probabilities) and they will now request the Crown Prosecution Service file to see if they can bring charges.
The longer term focus for the ICC must be on how to ensure players are beyond the reach of corrupt agents like the man at the centre of this case - Mazhar Majeed.
Better education will help, as will stricter monitoring of players during games. Confiscating mobile phones and laptops during matches clearly doesn't go far enough.
Ultimately this is a problem that has come out of the Indian sub-continent. Pakistan's players are relatively poorly paid, making the temptation from a vast illegal gambling industry in India too alluring for some. Regulating gambling in India would at least be a start.