Corrupt cricketers spend first night in Wandsworth Prison


Pakistani internationals Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and obtain and accept corrupt funds.


By Harry McAlister

Pakistani internationals Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif passed the first of many uncomfortable nights at Wandsworth Prison yesterday.

Butt, 27 and Asif, 28, were found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and obtain and accept corrupt funds.

At Lords last year they bowled deliberate no-balls at specified points in the match so gamblers could place guaranteed bets – known as ‘spot-fixing.’

Judge Jeremy Cooke sentenced the former Pakistani captain Butt to 30 months and fast-bowler Asif to a year, both in Wandsworth Prison.  

19-year-old Mohammad Amir was also incriminated in the plot but pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months at a juvenile detention facility.

“Your motive was greed, despite the legitimate rewards on offer in salaries and prize money,” Judge Cooke told the criminals.

“The image and integrity of what was once a game but is now a business is damaged in the eyes of all, including the many youngsters who regarded you as heroes.”

Crooked bookmaker Mazhar Majeed was also sentenced to 32 months at Wandsworth Prison for conspiracy to make corrupt payments and conspiracy to allow others to cheat at gambling.

The 36-year-old was filmed by an undercover News of the World reporter accepting £150,000 and assuring cronies the players would deliberately underperform at prefixed points in the game.

In the video, Majeed boasts of ‘working’ with seven members of the Pakistani squad and claims the team deliberately lost their second test against Australia in 2009.

Chief Executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association Angus Porter says international legislation is hindering anti-corruption efforts.

“Currently, if a player is asked to spot-fix and rejects the offer but then fails to report the incident to the authorities, he will be complicit in the crime,” he said.

“We need a period of amnesty,  not widespread enough to allow criminals to confess to a crime and get away with it, but where people can come forward without fear of being prosecuted.”

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew tweeted today: “Tempted? Think again. Caught=prison.”

Meanwhile the Pakistan Cricket Board called the conviction a “sad day for Pakistani cricket”.

Former Pakistani captain Asif Iqbal heavily criticised the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) attempts to tackle corruption.

“The ICC head the entire cricketing world yet their anti-corruption unit hasn’t come up with enough evidence to nail a single cricketer,” he said.

The ICC have banned Butt, Amir and Asif for five years.

Former England captain Michael Vaughn says they should never play cricket again.

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