Spot-fixing verdicts tarnish Pakistan cricket: Saeed

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Pakistan cricket has been badly tarnished by guilty verdicts handed down Tuesday to two former star players in a London court over a spot-fixing betting scam, the team's former manager said.

"It's a sad day for all of us and I'm very sad that this beautiful game of cricket has had to see this day," said Yawar Saeed, who was manager of the team during the fateful tour of England when the betting scam was uncovered.

Former Test captain Salman Butt, 27, was convicted at Southwark Crown Court of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat at gambling. Fast bowler Mohammad Asif, 28, was found of conspiracy to cheat.

Prosecutors alleged that they conspired with British agent Mazher Majeed and fast bowler Mohammad Aamer to deliver three intentional no-balls during the Lord's Test between Pakistan and England in August 2010.

"I feel very sad because I tried my level best to tell them to keep away from notorious people. They should have understood that and they committed a blunder, and when you commit a blunder, you are punished," Saeed told AFP.

"I'm also sad because the country's name has been dragged into this entire controversy. Pakistan is known for its talented players but this case has stained the country's image badly," he added.

Saeed stepped down as manager after the troubled England tour.

Butt and Asif were charged after allegations about their involvement in spot-fixing appeared in the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, owned by Australian-born media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, shortly after the Lord's Test.

Butt faces a maximum prison sentence of seven years and Asif a maxium of two years. They are expected to be sentenced later this week.

© 2011 AFP

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