Amir must learn that those who work with bookmakers cannot take the field, writes Ted Corbett
Salman Butt, once Pakistan’s captain, travelled to Switzerland this week hoping to persuade three sports appeal judges to allow him to resume the cricket career that was brought to an end when he was found to have ordered two of his Test bowlers to overstep deliberately to aid a bookmaker.
That was not the worst of his crimes.
Mohammad Amir, one of the bowlers who obeyed his captain’s instructions, was a country boy of 18 who must have felt he had no choice but to do as he was told even if he had misgivings.
A cricket captain’s word is law, and the consequences of not following his instructions can result in your life as a Test bowler coming to a rapid end.
Nonetheless, the highly talented Amir was sent to a jail for juveniles and is not appealing although the more experienced bowler Mohammad Asif has also asked for his ban to be reduced.
I trust that the Court of Arbitration for Sport will leave the sentences in place.
There is still good reason to reinforce the ICC wish that there is no place in the game for cheats. Sometime in the future there may be a moment when Amir can be shown a degree of mercy but he too must learn that those who work with bookmakers cannot take the field.
Butt says that for a cricketer like him a five-year ban is a life sentence.
He misses the game, he says. Good, he has obviously learnt how seriously he has broken the natural law of all sport.
Sadly, it is quite clear many other players, in many other sports have not chosen to obey the rule they signed up to the moment they first drew a wage for playing.
Your best efforts must be for your side and at no time must you work with bookmakers.
By the strangest of coincidences, it had already become clear this week that the evil axis of sports betting is still alive and capable of corrupting young men around the world.
A statement issued by Europol, the anti-crime agency, claimed that it had its eye on 380 suspect football matches; proof enough that football-fixing is still rife throughout Europe.
Spot fixing on
I am sure that spot fixing — the bribing of individual players to under-perform — is still going on in international cricket.
I have just re-read Mike Atherton’s colourful but instructive book on gambling; it quite spoilt my week even though his account of the 2000 Test thrown by Hansie Cronje at Centurion makes fascinating reading.
Mid-way through the beautiful soccer game between England and Brazil, as England swept to a wonderful 2-1 victory — only its fourth against Brazil — I also found myself asking if everything was legal.
Wayne Rooney’s goal was a marvellous strike from a rebound; Frank Lampard’s goal a tribute to his skill over many years; but did this friendly bring an authentic result?
The truth is that no-one can enjoy sport as we used to. Too many doubts, too many questions; and certainly too many men like Butt who have no right to call themselves sportsmen.