Asif, Butt Let-off a Letdown for the Fans

The ICC has decided to lift the ban on former Pakistani cricketers guilty of match fixing. Breach of fans’ trust?

Updated
Sports
3 min read
Former Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Asif and former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt (R) arriving at Southwark Crown Court in London. (Photo: Reuters)

The decision of the International Cricket Council (ICC) to lift the ban on disgraced Pakistani cricketers Mohammed Asif and Salman Butt is an outrageous move.

Here are two of the three cricketers (including Mohd Aamir) who were caught with their pants down in a sting operation that shook the world of cricket in 2010 – yet five years on, all is forgiven. This is a betrayal of the fans that spend their hard-earned money to watch their idols play. Whatever the legality of the decision, as a fan you are bound to feel let down.

Both Asif and Butt kept denying the allegations right through the legal process in English courts in 2010 and 2011. In fact their lawyers kept raising the bogey of the allegations being false right through the ICC tribunal process as well. It took them a good two-three years, after spending considerable time in an English jail, to finally admit their guilt.

So why would you want to pardon two men who were never accepting their fault in the first place?

A white board  filled by a BBC producer with the various length of prison sentences  after sentencing was concluded for Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir and agent Mazhar Majeed in London. (Photo: Reuters)
A white board filled by a BBC producer with the various length of prison sentences after sentencing was concluded for Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir and agent Mazhar Majeed in London. (Photo: Reuters)

The Decision Weakens the Fight Against Corruption

The whole issue needs some more explanation from the powers that be because it does not really add up. The whole purpose of having a robust set-up to take on corruption in cricket was to name, shame and debar the bad apples. But here the third step in the process is being aborted mid-way. The whole idea of educating young cricketers about the pitfalls of fixing and corrupt practices has taken a big hit with the duo being let off.

Former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt (top L), cricketers Mohammad Asif (top R), Mohammad Amir (bottom R) and agent Mazhar Majeed arriving for their sentencing at Southwark Crown court in London. (Photo: Reuters)
Former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt (top L), cricketers Mohammad Asif (top R), Mohammad Amir (bottom R) and agent Mazhar Majeed arriving for their sentencing at Southwark Crown court in London. (Photo: Reuters)

Now, how will you train cricketers around the world on the ills of being involved in corruption, if after a brief period of being debarred, you are being allowed to re-integrate?

Aamir was Mature Enough to Know the Pitfalls

Already the move to pardon and hasten the return of Mohammad Aamir has ensured that there is an escape route for any so-called talented youngster, who may have been misled by his seniors.

If Aamir was mature enough to take up the offer, he clearly knew the pitfalls, so all these theories about him being too young do not stand. It is amazing that Aamir’s return was fast tracked because the fault was of his seniors, but his influencers are also being pardoned! So in the end all is forgiven and forgotten. The drama staged in England in 2010 by these three cricketers never really happened. They can now fight their way back in domestic and international cricket.

Pakistan’s captain Salman Butt laughs with team-mate Mohammad Aamir (R) during a training session at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. (Photo: Reuters)
Pakistan’s captain Salman Butt laughs with team-mate Mohammad Aamir (R) during a training session at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. (Photo: Reuters)

Where is the deterrent for the future when more such elements will want to influence the course of the game? We have already let off a generation from the late 1990s and ensured their honourable return to the game. Now more are being officially accommodated in the sport.

It is not yet certain if the trio of Aamir, Asif and Butt will find their way back in international cricket, because that depends on their performances. But the bigger question remains if they should indeed get a chance to stake a claim.

Why Not Let Kaneria Back in too?

While we are in the process of pardoning cricketers, why not allow the fourth Pakistani cricketer, Danish Kaneria, also accused of fixing to come back. The most successful spinner in Pakistan cricket’s Test history, Kaneria, has been accused by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) of corrupting his teammates in Essex county cricket team.

Pakistan’s Danish Kaneria spins a ball during a cricket training session in Bangalore, India. (Photo: Reuters)
Pakistan’s Danish Kaneria spins a ball during a cricket training session in Bangalore, India. (Photo: Reuters)

The ECB has been steadfast in turning down Kaneria’s request to repeal the ban on him.

Maybe, Kaneria should probably learn from his former teammates and say sorry. That’s exactly what the disgraced trio did and got a let-off. A sorry is enough it seems, to be forgiven, if you indulge in cricket corruption.

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