Dealing a body blow to cricket, a British court jailed disgraced former Pakistan captain Salman Butt, bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir and their agent on Thursday as they had been found guilty of taking bribes to fix parts of a Test match against England in 2010.
It is for the first time that cricketers have been sent to jail for corruption in the game. Earlier, guilty players were penalised by their respective boards and the ICC, essentially through internal probes."The image and integrity of what was once a game, but is now a business is damaged," judge Jeremy Cooke said at the sentencing. "These offences, regardless of pleas, are so serious that only a sentence of imprisonment will suffice."
The court asked Butt to pay Rs 24.30 lakh, Asif Rs 6.38 lakh and Aamer Rs 7.35 lakh towards prosecution costs. The money is already with the police.
In a prepared statement, Amir, who became the youngest to take 50 Test wickets before being embroiled in the scandal, admitted his career was all but over. "My dream was to be the best cricketer in the world... I do not know if cricket will ever want me again. I can understand why it would not," he said in a prepared statement read out by his lawyer at the court. "I want to apologise to Pakistan and to everyone that cricket is important to. I do know how much damage this has done to the game, a game which I love more than anything else in the world," he said.
Sunil Gavaskar was not sure the punishment would end the menace. "I won't say it (handing jail terms) will completely stop corruption in cricket but this should be a big deterrent," he said.
The scandal has raised serious questions about how deep and wide the rot has set in. However, the ICC's anti-corruption chief, Ronnie Flanagan, denied corruption was rampant in the sports was working hard.
"The vast, vast majority of cricketers are not only wonderfully talented, but wonderfully ethical people," he said. "It is only a tiny proportion of people who succumb to the evil advances of other people."
India has not emerged blameless. The judge said Majeed passed on information to unnamed punters in the Indian illegal betting market. "It is clear from the telephone schedules that you were in touch with contacts in India and Dubai."