The ICC has finally announced that the trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Asif will be banned from international cricket for a period of five years at the minimum each. The guilty verdict does not come out as a surprise but what definitely does is the fact that the longest ban was of only five years.
It was a matter of setting an example. And that could only have been done by banning at least one of them for life. No more international or domestic cricket for them. The least that they could have done is to get one of them out for ten years. Even the five years that has been meted out will be a tough period because that will mean that their careers are as good as ever, but fixers and corruption have no place in cricket and even that remote chance that a Butt will come back into the side again needs to be avoided.
Has shown no sign of remorse ever since the scandal broke out. He has been as thick skinned as one can get about his involvement in the spot-fixing in the Lord’s Test match and has steadfastly maintained that he hadn’t done anything wrong. If he was indeed the ringmaster under the auspices of Mazhar Majeed, it is difficult to rationalise why he was banned for only five years. Butt has said that he will appeal against the verdict to the international body CAS to reduce the punishment but one gets the sense that the ICC should make a similar appeal to increase the sentence.
“How can two no-balls give me a five-year ban,” was Amir’s refrain after he heard of the punishment. The point is not whether it was a couple of no-balls – it was not as if the selectors had dumped him and he was responding in that manner. The two no-balls had been a whole part to corrupt the game of cricket, bowled deliberately in exchange of money and making a mockery of the system. Being the youngest of the lot, he will have a good chance to come back to play international cricket.
The most curious of the three. Right from the time the affair started, he has neither appealed against the verdict the first time nor has he spoken to the media pleading his innocence. And yet, one gets the feeling that he should have been banned for life. He is a repeat offender and has often crossed the line – whether it was skirmishes with team-mates, doping, drugs or fixing, he has been there, done it all. The time was ripe to root him out of the system.