November 2, 2011

Corruption

Jail, a daunting deterrent

George Binoy

"Three cricketers have been pursued for corruption. They have not only been banned from the game, they now face time in jail. As deterrents go, there cannot be a more daunting one for future cricketers who may be tempted," writes Osman Samiuddin in the National.

And for the three individuals, is there sadness that they are lost? There was when the scandal first broke and there was when they were then banned from the game, particularly at losing bowlers as gifted as Amir and Asif. Their careers had already been broken by the time of the trial.

But now their lives stand to be, which evokes an altogether different, indescribable emotion. It can only be captured by the news of the birth of Butt's second child, a boy, born about an hour before the verdict was delivered; a life created just as one responsible for it was all but finished.

Scyld Berry in the Daily Telegraph: It is thought that, when Mr Justice Cooke passes sentence on the three Pakistan players towards the end of this week, Amir might escape a prison sentence on the grounds that he pleaded guilty; and his youth - he was officially 18 at the time he bowled two deliberate no-balls in the Lord’s Test last year - will also be taken into account. But the stigma will remain: Mohammad Amir fixed. And maybe the cricket world should not feel compassionate towards him but, rather, that the ban and the sentence to come are right.

"An easy quid begins to look a whole lot less easy when a sportsman stands to go to jail for it," writes Greg Baum in the WA Today. Sportsmen frequently are called hardened, but not in the sense of criminals, who factor the risk of incarceration into their dealings.

In the Guardian, Vic Marks says: The trio's guilt comes as no surprise to former players. Indeed, a "not guilty" verdict from Southwark would have been far more depressing for the game. A simple photo from that Lord's Test match of August 2010 was as eloquent as any barrister's summing up.

There was Pakistan's captain, Butt, at mid-off as his bowler entered his delivery stride. Any cricketer knows that a mid-off fieldsman would be focusing on the batsman at this moment, in anticipation of the ball being hit in his direction. Where was Butt looking? At his bowler's feet, checking, presumably, that he would indeed bowl a no-ball, as had been agreed with the News of the World's "fake sheikh", Mazher Mahmood.

"Maybe Amir, dazzled by the quick money which his father and brothers could not expect to earn in their lifetimes, would have fallen in almost any circumstances. He could have said no, but with what encouragement, what support, what suggestion that he had another choice?" asks James Lawton in the Independent. "These are the questions that must haunt the cricket authorities, particularly as represented by the Pakistani cricket board and the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit."

Also in the Independent, Stephen Brenkley revisits the day the spot-fixing scandal broke.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Keywords: Corruption

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