Cricket: Imran pained at jail sentence for Pak cricketers

3rd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan on Thursday said he was pained to hear the news of Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer being jailed for fixing parts of a Test match against England.

Pakistan former Test captain Butt, 27, received 30 months, fast bowler Asif, 28, received one year in jail and 19-year-old Aamer was jailed for six months.

Butt and Asif were found guilty on Tuesday of deliberately bowling three no-balls during the Lord's Test in August 2010 as part of a "spot-fixing" betting scam uncovered by Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World.

Aamer and players's agent Mazhar Majeed, sent down for 32 months, had already pleaded guilty to involvement in the scam.

Khan said it was painful to listen to the news.

"It is painful to listen (to) the news as a former Pakistan cricketer and I feel really sorry for their families," Khan, who was on a political meeting here, told AFP.

"In a way I also feel sorry for these cricketers because they are from Pakistan where there are massive corruption cases against president (Asif Zardari) and they must have thought crime pays," said Khan, who now heads his political party -- Tehrik-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice).

Khan said the punishments are a wake-up call for Pakistan cricket.

"The verdict is a wake-up call for Pakistan cricket and from now on we should be ultra careful and, like we did in the past, should never allow the corruption to set in," said Khan, who led Pakistan to their only World Cup win in 1992.

Khan criticised the previous cricket boards for sweeping the matter under the carpet.

"We should not hide behind the justification that it (fixing) happens in international cricket. It does happen, but Pakistan should set its house in order first and anyone involved should be punished," said Khan.

Khan said he always felt sorry for Aamer.

"I always felt sorry for Aamer," said Khan, himself a great fast bowler. "He may have been influenced by the atmosphere around him, secondly he was the best young fast bowler and for the fact that he came out with a confession," said Khan.

Another former captain Ramiz Raja said he has no sympathy for the players.

"I have no sympathy, I have always maintined that in a team when the rest of the guys are fighting to win a game and two or three are fighting against it, trying to sell their souls to the devil, they cannot be afforded any sympathy," said Raja.

"They hurt Pakistan cricket, their fans and even though it may sound rough to some of the fans but justice has been done and they deserved the punishement they got."

Raja said the verdict will serve Pakistan cricket well.

"Even though it's a sad situation for their families, justice has been done. You need to rid such elements from the game and it's good for Pakistan cricket.

"Cricket needs good ambassadors and passionate cricketers who can be good ambassadors, who can serve their country honourably and unfortunately these three were on a diffrerent track," said Raja.

© 2011 AFP

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