Salman Butt hopes for reduction in punishment

Salman Butt leaves the ICC headquarters after the hearing on his provisional suspension Associated Press

Salman Butt, who was banned by the ICC tribunal for ten years, has expressed the hope that his punishment would be reduced following an amendment in the ICC code of conduct. Butt was handed the harshest sanctions of the three players found guilty of spot-fixing, with Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir getting bans of seven and five years respectively. Butt and Asif's bans included suspended sentences of five and two years each, in effect putting the trio out of the game for a minimum of five years.

"All I can say is that I am disappointed with the verdict, but I will only be able to speak at length when a detailed judgement comes," Butt told AFP. "I don't agree with a ten-year ban and once the rules in the code of conduct are amended, which the head of the tribunal has also requested to be done, I hope the punishment can be reduced."

Butt's hope for clemency is based upon the tribunal's recommendation that the ICC make "certain changes to the code with a view to providing flexibility in relation to minimum sentences in exceptional circumstances". The lawyers of Butt and Amir reacted to the verdict saying the tribunal would have given lower punishments had their hands not "been tied" to the code's range of sanctions.

Butt, who was captain during the series in England, was found to have not disclosed an approach by Mazhar Majeed that he should bat a maiden over in the Oval Test. The other charges that were upheld relate to the subsequent Lord's Test, where Amir and Asif were found to have bowled deliberate no-balls and Butt was penalised for being party to that. Amir will appeal against the decision to the Court of Arbitration Sports, but the other two players have not yet said whether they will.

In theory, the 26-year-old Butt could return after five years if he doesn't make further breaches of the code of conduct, and participates in an anti-corruption education programme under the auspices of the PCB. Amir, who will only turn 19 in April, could also conceivably harbour hopes of a return, though in practical terms a five-year gap from any competitive cricket makes the prospect of a return that much more difficult. The situation is most bleak for Asif, who will be 33 by the time the minimum five years are up.