LONDON – A British judge jailed disgraced former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt, two of his bowlers and their agent Thursday for their part in a fixing scandal which rocked the international game to its core. Butt, 27, looked aghast as he was handed a 30-month term at London’s Southwark Crown Court, where he and fast bowler Mohammad Asif were found guilty Tuesday of fixing parts of the August 2010 Lord’s Test match against England.
Asif, 28, was jailed for a year, while prodigious 19-year-old bowler Mohammad Amir, who pleaded guilty to involvement in the scam to pre-arrange no-balls for shadowy South Asian betting rings, was sentenced to six months.
Their corrupt British agent Mazhar Majeed, 36, who had also pleaded guilty but claimed Butt had approached him to arrange the scam, was given the longest sentence — two years and eight months.
“These offences, regardless of pleas, are so serious that only a sentence of imprisonment will suffice,” judge Jeremy Cooke told the four men, adding that they would each serve half their sentences and then be released on licence.
He said the players were motivated by greed despite the large amounts of money they could earn legitimately, and said he hoped the sentences would deter other cricketers and agents from following their “hugely detrimental” example.
The judge also condemned what they had done to the sport of cricket itself, “the very name of which used to be associated with fair dealing”.
“It’s the insidious effect of your actions on professional cricket and the followers of it which make the offences so serious,” he told the packed courtroom.
Its “image and integrity” stands “damaged in the eyes of all, including the many youngsters who regarded three of you as heroes”.
Despite their status, he said the players had “procured the bowling of three no-balls for money to the detriment of your national cricket team, with the object of enabling others to cheat at gambling”.
Any surprising event in a cricket match will now be suspect to suspicion, he said.