When Mohammad Amir bowled a no-ball against England on the opening day of the 2010 Test at Lord’s, nobody may have imagined his lengthy stride previous the crease marked step one in a historic fixing scandal. Two days later it was revealed that three no-balls — two by Amir, and one by his tempo accomplice Mohammad Asif — had been a part of a shady betting deal. Pakistan’s captain Salman Butt had orchestrated the deliberate no-balls in return for cash provided by undercover journalist Mazhar Majeed posing as a bookmaker.
The scandal, uncovered within the sting by Britain’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, rocked the cricketing world, and aftershocks can nonetheless be felt a decade on in Pakistan.
Not solely did that darkish morning on the revered ‘dwelling of cricket’ derail the careers of three gamers who have been banned and jailed, the saga additionally led to requires Pakistan to be booted from worldwide cricket.
Butt, Amir and Asif have been tried in a London court docket for offences beneath the Gambling Act and have been jailed in November 2011.
Announcing the sentences, the choose underscored the severity of the crime.
“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 three of you as heroes,” Justice Jeremy Cooke mentioned.
It marked a brand new low for Pakistan cricket, already reeling from the aftermath of terror assaults in Lahore on the Sri Lankan staff a yr earlier than, which triggered the suspension of dwelling internationals.
Because he pleaded responsible sooner than his two teammates, and on account of his youth, the 18-year-old Amir obtained worldwide sympathy.
He was allowed to play worldwide cricket once more in 2016 and, now 28, has been efficiently reintegrated into the Pakistan staff.
Asif, who obtained a seven-year ban and a one-year jail sentence, is now 37 and within the twilight of his profession.
Butt, 35, nonetheless harbours hopes of a world comeback after constant home performances.
As the orchestrator of one of many darkest episodes within the cricket-mad nation’s historical past, that appears unlikely, particularly with match-fixing nonetheless haunting the sport.
Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif have been banned after a Pakistan Super League spot-fixing case in 2017.
And in April this yr, the talented-yet-maverick Umar Akmal was banned in April for 3 years for failing to report fixing presents.
The instances have led to requires the nation to criminalise fixing, a marketing campaign taken up by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
“We need to make match-fixing a criminal offence… I have talked to the government to bring in this change and make a law related to match-fixing,” PCB chairman Ehsan Mani mentioned.
Former Pakistan captain-turned-commentator Ramiz Raja went a step additional, recommending tainted gamers mustn’t play once more for the nationwide staff, as Pakistan ponder the return of Sharjeel after serving his ban.
“We have suffered numerous times from bringing back tainted players yet we continue to welcome them just because of their talent,” Raja informed AFP.
“We should avoid being desperate and rather give new talent a chance to prosper.
“Cricket can’t condone such behaviour and followers want to grasp that rooting for tainted gamers is definitely harming Pakistan cricket and its picture.”
On the sector a minimum of, Pakistan have managed to carry the clouds.
They discovered an astute skipper to interchange Butt in Misbah-ul-Haq, who had been considering retirement after being omitted for notorious England tour.
He led Pakistan to primary within the Test rankings in 2016.
A tentative return of worldwide touring sides has adopted, culminating in Azhar Ali having the honour of main Pakistan of their first Test on dwelling soil in 10 years when Sri Lanka performed in Rawalpindi in December.
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