It was in England exactly a year ago that cricket witnessed the latest chapter in fixing. Over a decade after Cronje-gate and just as everyone was claiming that all was well with the game, the incidents during the Lord’s Test between Pakistan and England sent shockwaves.
Pakistani trio Md Amir, Md Asif and Salman Butt’s actions in the final Test (August 26 to 29) exposed the dark underbelly of the game.
Not everyone was surprised by the actions of pace bowler Asif and then Butt, but the involvement of teenaged left-arm pacer Amir came as a shock. The precocious talent in the Wasim Akram mould had the world at his feet when he self-destructed.
England-based former Pakistan skipper, Mushtaq Mohammad was at Lord’s that day. “Amir was the only one I felt sorry for. The other two can go to hell. Asif was a ganda anda (rotten egg). Butt was also a suspicious character. “(But) Amir is a tragedy. I really cried that day. The whole world was ready to embrace him with open arms. I don’t know why he had to do that? He would have played Test cricket, IPL, County cricket… He’d have been much sought after in the leagues all over the world. He’d have been a hero,” says Mushtaq.
Amir was playing for Pakistan at the official age of 17 and was an integral part of the side that won the 2008 World Twenty20 at Lord’s. He was also the fastest to take 50 Test wickets.
The trio was banned for 10 (Butt), 7 (Asif) and 5 (Amir) years respectively after an ICC tribunal found them guilty of spot-fixing. Mushtaq fears the lengthy ban may finish Amir’s career. He wants him to keep training and wanted the board to appeal to the ICC to let him play local cricket. “He suddenly earned so much fame he got trapped in the bright lights,” said Mushtaq.