Butt pleads to play again as appeal looms

Andrew McGlashan and Nagraj Gollapudi

February 6, 2013

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Salman Butt before his sentencing at Southwark Crown Court, London, November 3, 2011
Salman Butt wants to be given the chance to resume his career © AFP

Salman Butt, the former Pakistan captain, has asked for a chance to resume his playing career as he prepares to challenge his ICC ban handed down for spot-fixing during the Lord's Test against England in 2010.

Butt, who was banned for 10 years with the possibility of five suspended, and Mohammad Asif, currently serving a seven-year ban with two suspended, will appear at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, over the next two days in a last-ditch attempt to appeal against the bans.

In a statement released through his lawyer on Wednesday, Butt said: "It may be easy for some people to say that a five-year ban from cricket is all right but what they don't realise is that for a sportsman like me - this is like a lifetime ban," he said in a statement issued by his solicitors this afternoon.

"Cricket is my life and every single day that has passed has been so painful because I have not been able to play. All I want is an opportunity to get back into cricket whilst I am still young and I can still play well."

Asif's hearing is scheduled for Thursday and Butt's for Friday. Unlike criminal trials, CAS hearings are held in private and not open to either the public or media.

Lawyers from both parties - the ICC and the player - will present arguments in front of the three-strong arbitrators panel, including the current president of CAS. Butt will be represented by Yasin Patel, a London-based barrister, who was also part of the legal team that fought his case in the UK.

"We are appealing the sanctions that were imposed upon us and they should not have been so high," Patel said. It is understood that Asif's arguments will be similar.

CAS, which was formed in 1983 to rule on a variety of disputes within sport, is widely regarded as the final point in the appeal process. It cannot reverse the UK court rulings because the criminal proceedings were under UK laws, but it does have the power to reduce or overturn the ICC sanctions as they are part of the appeal system laid down in the ICC anti-corruption code. If the outcome was an alteration to the bans it is unlikely that there would be a counter-appeal process open to the ICC. No new witnesses or evidence can be produced by the players.

It is not yet clear whether the CAS will issue an instant verdict and that will depend on the arguments they have heard and if they are satisfied or if they require more time to study the case.

Mohammad Amir, the third player to be caught in the News of the World sting, has decided not to appeal against the five-year ban against him. The ban does not permit the players to take part in any official match - international, domestic or club - until at least September 2015. All three players served time.

Butt served seven months of a 30-month prison sentence, Asif was released from Canterbury Prison in Kent on June 3 last year after he served half of a year-long sentence while Amir spent three months in a young offenders' institution after admitting his charge at a pre-trial hearing.

Andrew McGlashan and Nagraj Gollapudi are assistant editors at ESPNcricinfo

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