Spot-fixing controversy

'Six months is a lot for a kid'

Umar Farooq

November 3, 2011

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Mohammad Amir's family follows the sentencing process on television, Gujar Khan, Pakistan, November 3, 2011
Mohammad Amir's family follows the sentencing process on television © Associated Press
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The night before he was sentenced to six months in a juvenile correctional institute, Mohammed Amir called his family from England and asked them to pray for him. Amir's brother Saleem told the media gathered outside the house that they hoped the sentence would not involve jail time. The phone call from their brother, though, had become an intimation of what was about to happen in less than 24 hours. "The entire family prayed all night," Saleem said, "trying not to think the worst thoughts."

Amir and Butt's families spent all day watching the news on television. Once the verdict was announced Amir's father broke down outside the family bungalow in Lahore's Defence neighbourhood and was unable to speak. Amir's brother Saleem consoled him and called on the Pakistani government to help in the case. "Amir is a kid, he can't understand things. These six months are a lot for an immature kid." Amir's mother was not in Lahore at the time of the sentencing but in the family's old home in Gujjar Khan near Rawalpindi. Amir's sister said he had spoken to the family before being sentenced to six months in Feltham Young Offenders' Institute.

Salman Butt's family, which should have been celebrating the birth of his second child, responded angrily to his two-and-a half year sentence. Butt's businessman father Zulfiqar said he would soon be calling a press conference to "reveal" some hidden facts. "A lot of things have remained secret ... My son is innocent," he said. "Our own friends conspired against us." Zulfiqar did not identify these friends or explain the conspiracy but added that the Butt family was not wealthy. "You can check our bank balance. We weren't even able to build our own house."

Butt's two sisters Khadija and Rubab spoke to reporters outside their home in the fairly comfortable Johar Town area, about 10kms south-west of the Gaddafi Stadium. Khadija said: "We know our brother is innocent and we firmly believe that. Right from the start, and through the past 14 months, he didn't make one deviation from his first statement." She said the family was not able to speak to Butt before he was led away to holding cells under the Southwark Crown Court and on to Wandsworth prison. "We know Salman has been praying all night yesterday. His mistake was to be at the wrong place with the wrong people. This is his only mistake." Rubab's wedding has now been postponed.

Mohammed Asif's family is still based in his hometown of Sheikhupura, north of Lahore. His father, Hasan Deen, a dairy farmer, had spoken to reporters after Tuesday's verdict. When asked about the possibility of a jail sentence for his son, Hasan Deen said: "It is human beings after all who go to jail. He hasn't committed a murder. We haven't made any great money from cricket. I know Asif will return home one day."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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