Pakistan urged to save future cricketers
Former star players and cricket administrators united Wednesday to urge Pakistan to act immediately to save future generations of cricketers from corruption as three of its top players face jail in England.
Former Test captain Salman Butt and paceman Mohammad Asif were found guilty by a London court of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments in a "spot-fixing" betting scam during the Lord's Test in August 2010.
Mohammad Aamer, Pakistan's prodigious teenage strike bowler, pleaded guilty to the same charges at a pre-trial hearing in September.
The worst fixing scandal in more than 10 years was uncovered by Britain's now-defunct News of the World tabloid, rocking the cricketing world and the verdicts have been seen as a strong warning to future generations.
"I think we desperately need to save our future generations after what happened to Butt, Asif and Aamer," former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif, who blew the whistle on match-fixing in 1995, told AFP.
"We have not done enough in the past and that's what we are paying for."
Latif said huge money needed to be pumped into domestic cricket.
"There is frustration among the local players who cannot buy a car or a house from their earnings and until we pump millions of rupees into our domestic cricket we cannot stop players from this malpractice," said Latif.
Latif accused fellow players and then captain Salim Malik of fixing matches in 1995 and later provided evidence to a judicial inquiry into match-fixing between 1998-2000.
Malik and Ata-ur Rehman were banned for life, while six top cricketers Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saeed Anwar and Akram Raza were fined.
Latif said the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should have intervened to help clean up the sport after a caution from the judicial inquiry.
"Nothing was done about it. I don't think this verdict will make a difference to Pakistan or international cricket," said Latif, adding that he was willing to help with reform efforts.
"I am willing but the authorities aren't," said Latif. "I still say that if the PCB delays broadcasting matches by 30 seconds, spot-fixing can be curbed, but it's up to them to take action."
Another former captain Aamer Sohail said the PCB had to be more pro-active.
"I think the PCB should have played a more pro-active role last year... brought the players back to Pakistan immediately and tried them under our code of conduct," said Sohail.
"This is what happens when you don't react quickly enough to fight corruption," he added.
"Now we need to be very strict in dealing with such matters and for the sake of posterity, implement strong measures to save our players."
Former president of the International Cricket Council, the Pakistani-born Ehsan Mani, said the verdict should be a wake up call for the PCB.
"It is quite a strong message to the PCB that they failed to have an effective anti-corruption programme for its players. I hope they take the hard lessons that have come out it and save our future players," said Mani.
Butt, Asif and Aamer are to be sentenced later this week. The corrupt payments charge carries a seven-year maximum prison sentence, while the cheating charge has a maximum two-year jail term.
© 2011 AFP