Mohammad Amir's no-ball

A scandal nearly as large as the one that preceded it by a decade

Osman Samiuddin

Play 06:42

For once, and unwittingly, Ramiz Raja hit the nail on the head. After Mohammad Amir had overstepped by nearly half a foot, Ramiz said Amir was "inexperienced" but also "very clever". When it soon emerged that he had bowled the no-ball to order, for an agent mixed up with pretend bookies, Amir's status as man-child was unmistakable. He was old enough to know precisely what he was a part of, and young enough to be unable to prevent it. 

The Lord's spot-fixing scandal was, without doubt, a direct consequence of the prevarication and ambiguity in Pakistan cricket's dealing with its first wave of corruption. The fumbled inquiries in the mid-'90s, and the less than severe punishments for a number of big names in the Qayyum report sent out the worst kind of signals: if they had got away with it, so could their successors. 

But times had changed. Where there had always been an absence of one clinching piece of evidence the first time round, here there was no room for doubt. Back then, Rashid Latif had audio recordings of players talking about fixes; even the tabloid video and audio sting that caught out Salim Malik in 2000 had him boasting about what he could do and had done.

Amir walks out through a sea of opprobrium to bat on day four at Lord's, after the lid was off the fix Gareth Copley / © PA Photos

This time the News of the World provided rock-solid proof - a video of the fix being set up, and broadcast footage for the world to see of it being carried out. It required an ICC inquiry and a criminal court case to punish Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, but that was just procedure - this was as open and shut as it got. In that sense, it was as significant as Hansie Cronje's confession. In Pakistan, some elements remained in denial and shouted conspiracy, but anyone with half a brain could see it exactly for what it was.   

It left Pakistan cricket, after nearly half a decade of relentless scandal and controversy, as low as it has ever been. But as Misbah-ul-Haq would discover over a redemptive half-decade subsequently, that meant the only way was up.

Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo