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article imageOp-Ed: Cheating just ain't cricket

By Alexander Baron     Nov 1, 2011 in Crime
London - Two leading Pakistani cricketers have been convicted of cheating. They will be sentenced tomorrow, and can expect anything up to three years imprisonment, perhaps more.
Southwark Crown Court was the unlikely venue for the trial of two leading Pakistani cricketers for cheating. The two men, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, were found to have colluded with middle man Mazhar Majeed to fix specific balls (spot fixing), in particular to have no-balls bowled at designated times in matches.
When this scandal unfolded last year, the circumstances were highly suspicious, to say the least. Mazhar Majeed spoke in English with an accent and proficiency that would have put the Queen to shame; the whole scam was videoed covertly, and, the real punchline, the operation has turned out to be the swansong of the late and unlamented News Of The World.
An earlier article asking the question when does entrapment become incitement? can be found here. That question has now been answered. Rather than send Butt, Asif and Mohammad Amir to gaol, it would be more worthwhile to fine them heavily and perhaps compel them to play a number of charity matches, perhaps for the next year, to aid the ongoing Pakistan flood relief. Alas, that will not happen, although they may be fined and ordered to pay costs. To begin with, they will now banned from professional cricket. Amir - who pleaded guilty and thus averted a trial - has already been banned for five years. (If they had been snooker players, they would have been thrown out of their professional body and banned for life; world champion John Higgins was fined £75,000 and banned for six months simply for failing to report an attempt to bribe him). Finally, organised greed on this scale that undermines the integrity of the sport worldwide warrants an immediate gaol sentence; ordinary people who steal far less can expect to serve hard time, and we should never forget that this sort of scam is an act of theft, however ludicrous it may appear to Joe Sixpack that anyone should want to bet thousands of dollars on the outcome of a cricket match, much less on a specific ball.
In spite of there being an element of entrapment in this operation, one should not feel a smidgeon of sympathy for these men who have prostituted their talent, and brought shame on both their sport and their country, especially when they are - or were - paid so lavishly, travelled the world in style, and were idolised by their countrymen.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Cricket, Pakistan, Cheating, Southwark Crown Court, Mohammad Asif
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