Match fix cricketers behind bars
Three disgraced Pakistan cricketers are starting prison sentences for their parts in a match-fixing scam that rocked world sport.
Ex-Test captain Salman Butt, 27, was jailed for two-and-a-half years for his role as the "orchestrator" of a plot to bowl deliberate no-balls in the Lord's Test against England last summer. Former world number two Test bowler Mohammad Asif, 28, received a 12-month prison term for delivering one of the fraudulent no-balls.
Mohammad Amir, 19, who had been tipped to become one of the all-time great fast bowlers, was detained for six months in a young offenders institution after he admitted bowling two intentional no-balls at Lord's. Mazhar Majeed, 36, the corrupt London-based sports agent at the heart of the fixing scandal, was jailed for two years and eight months.
Passing sentence at London's Southwark Crown Court, Mr Justice Cooke said the four men had damaged the integrity of cricket and betrayed all fans of the sport through their greed.
He said they engaged in corruption in a game whose very name used to be associated with "fair dealing on the sporting field", adding that future matches would forever be tainted by the fixing scandal.
The judge told the four men: "'It's not cricket' was an adage. It is the insidious effect of your actions on professional cricket and the followers of it that make the offences so serious.
"The image and integrity of what was once a game but is now a business is damaged in the eyes of all, including the many youngsters who regarded you as heroes and would have given their eye teeth to play at the levels and with the skills that you had."
The judge said he took into account the five-year bans all three players have received from the International Cricket Council (ICC) but added that only prison sentences were sufficient to deter other cricketers or agents from becoming involved in corrupt activities.
The fixing scandal emerged after an undercover News of the World reporter approached Majeed in August last year pretending to be a wealthy Indian businessman seeking major international cricketers for a tournament. The agent, from Croydon, south London, was secretly filmed accepting £150,000 in cash from the journalist as part of an arrangement to rig games.
Majeed promised the reporter that Asif and Amir would deliver three no-balls at specific points during the Test between Pakistan and England at Lord's from August 26 to 29 last year. He also claimed he had been carrying out match-fixing for two-and-a-half years and had seven players from Pakistan's national side working for him.