Cricket: Pakistan trio set to learn fate
The statements given by Waqar and Najam to ICC’s anti-corruption unit (ACU) was carried in a Pakistan daily. According to the newspaper, Waqar said: “I was greatly surprised by Amir’s no-ball during the Lord’s Test. This was because Amir’s front foot stepped over the line by a great distance whereas usually, if anything, Amir tends to bowl from well behind the front-foot line.”
“I was so surprised by the delivery that when we went back into the dressing room I asked Amir in Punjabi, What the hell was that?.”
“But before Amir had the chance to answer my question, Salman Butt interrupted, saying: ‘ I told him to come forward and bowl a bouncer’.”
Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer are set to learn their fate on Tuesday with an anti-corruption tribunal against them expected to wind up.
Pakistan’s captain Salman Butt (L) laughs with team-mate Mohammad Amir during a training session at Trent Bridge before the Test series against England in Nottingham in this July 28, 2010 file photo. The three Pakistan cricketers at the centre of a corruption scandal are expected to learn their fate on Tuesday when an independent hearing concludes in Doha. Butt, Amir and Mohammad Asif face lengthy bans if they are found guilty of spot-fixing during Pakistan’s test series in England last year.
The hearing has been held behind closed doors at the Qatar Financial Centre since January 6 with International Cricket Council (ICC) officials saying that closing statements were being heard on Tuesday morning.
The three face charges of spot-fixing during Pakistan’s tour of England last year in a scandal that rocked the sport. It is alleged that they conspired in the bowling of deliberate no-balls — claims they all deny.
They were provisionally suspended by the ICC in September, with the world governing body’s code of conduct carrying a minimum five-year ban if corruption charges are proved.
The maximum punishment is life out of the game.
Ahead of the verdict, fast bowler Aamer told reporters it had been one of the hardest times of his life.
“You can see my eyes are sore because I have not been able to sleep for the last few days,” he said.
“I have been talking to my parents and they have tried to raise my confidence. I know a lot of people are praying for me because its a matter of my career.”
His lawyer Shahid Karim said he was happy with how the tribunal had proceeded.
“We are satisfied with the five-day proceedings and hope for a good verdict,” he said.
The scandal came to light when Britain’s News of the World claimed that seven Pakistani players, including Butt, Aamer and Asif, took money from bookie Mazhar Majeed to obey orders at specific stages in the Lord’s Test in August.
Scotland Yard detectives raided the team hotel in London, reportedly confiscating a huge amount of money from former Pakistan captain Butt’s room.
The three-man independent hearing is being led by code of conduct commissioner and leading lawyer Michael Beloff of England, aided by Justice Albie Sachs from South Africa and Kenyan Sharad Rao.
It is seen as the worst scandal in cricket since that of South Africa’s Hansie Cronje.
A decade ago the former South Africa captain, who died in a mysterious plane crash in 2002, was revealed to have accepted money from bookmakers in a bid to influence the course of games as well as trying to corrupt his team-mates.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) appointed anti-corruption tribunal’s decision on the fate of the three Pakistan cricketers accused of spot-fixing may become heavily influenced by the statements of fast bowler Mohammad Asif, reports emerging from Doha suggested late Monday.
Asif was the last of the accused trio to present his defence against allegations of spot-fixing on the fifth day of the hearing at the Qatar Financial Centre’s twelfth-floor courtroom.
The fast bowler is believed to have conceded that the evidence provided by the ICC against the trio is strong enough to indicate wrongdoing but steered himself clear of being aware of any pre-determined pattern, a report on the BCC Sport website said.
Asif reportedly told the tribunal that he bowled the specific no-ball on the instructions of his then captain Salman Butt – also being questioned in Doha – in order to intimidate the England batsmen. The statement is in stark contrast to the approach taken by Butt and the less experienced fast bowler Mohammad Amir and has indicated a growing split between the pair and Asif.
Earlier, Butt seemed to have shown complete oblivion and surprise over bookie Mazhar Majeed’s claims that the Test captain and several other players are involved in cricket corruption. Butt’s statements of defence, however, may now be dented by Asif’s revelation.
Mohammad Amir, meanwhile, has been close to Butt ever since the scandal broke out and has been seen travelling with the former captain to and from the venue of the hearing. His statements of defence, which he gave on Sunday and Monday, relied heavily on his inexperience, youth, clean record and influence of his captain.
The new-ball pair’s statements, while distancing them from any direct connection to the ‘fixing’ of no-balls, have placed majority of the blame on Butt.
“Given that the possibility of deliberate wrongdoing is strengthened through the interplay between Butt and Asif, the situation does not appear too bright for the players. The probability that the ICC, which is keen to establish its credentials as a body with zero tolerance for corruption, will push for harsh sanctions must be high. As Pakistan’s captain at the time, Butt faces the possibility of the sternest sanctions,” ESPNCricinfo’s Osman Samiuddin noted in his report from Doha after the fifth day of the hearing.
It is also believed that the ICC provided the tribunal with call logs involving the accused players and their alleged agent/bookie Mazhar Majeed. These records are said to have been provided by the News of the World – the British tabloid that carried out a sting operation leading to the players’ suspensions.
The hearing will conclude on Tuesday, after all three players’ lawyers and the ICC’s lawyer have presented their closing statements. While the tribunal is expected to announce its verdict on the sixth day, the exact nature of the possible sanctions may well be announced later in the week, reports say.
The Qatar-based hearing is the first instance of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit acting on a possible act of cricket corruption and hence holds importance as far as cricket’s ruling body’s credibility is concerned.
Pakistan, meanwhile, may lose its potent and world-class new-ball pair if the allegations are proven.