ICC satisfied with spot-fixing verdict – Lorgat
The ICC is “satisfied” with the verdict and punishments handed out to three Pakistan players on Saturday on charges of spot-fixing during the Lord’s Test last summer. A three-member tribunal found Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir guilty of offences under article 2 of the ICC’s anti-corruption code and banned them for 10, 7 and 5 years respectively. Haroon Lorgat, the ICC’s chief executive, hoped that as a result of the ICC’s investigation and the subsequent hearing, the game’s image would improve.
In the aftermath of the sanctions, questions were raised over why no life bans were handed out to any of the players, which would’ve been the maximum sanction for the relevant charges. The ICC’s legal team is also believed to have pushed for those.
The tribunal also included the possibility of suspended sentences in the cases of Butt and Asif, of 5 and 2 years respectively, which means they could be out for as few as five years. Considering the ages of a couple of the players – Butt is 26 and Amir just 18 – in theory, they could return after serving their bans, though that remains a considerably distant prospect, especially given that they still have to deal with a criminal case in the UK.
“My first reaction is one of sadness at the fact that we had to go through such an ordeal but I am satisfied we have concluded it,” Lorgat said at a press conference in Doha. “I’m also satisfied that the sanctions delivered are severe enough to send out a clear message that the ICC will not stop short at anything to prosecute any player found wanting in this area of corruption. I don’t believe the sentences are lenient by any stretch of the imagination.”
Lorgat added that he thought the sentences “will make it extremely difficult for them to return to the Test format. It is at the prime of their careers that they are faced with punishment. I don’t want to speculate what may happen in future.”
The tribunal’s statement raised a couple of questions – answers to which will no doubt come if and when the full judgment appears. The recommendation to the ICC of a change in certain aspects of the code and sanctions left Amir and Butt – as seen in the statement of their lawyers – feeling that they could have received lower punishments than they did had the code allowed it. The implication, Amir’s lawyer Shahid Karim felt, was a change to that code might benefit Amir.
But Lorgat said the ICC wasn’t bound to the recommendation to change, only to consider it. “We would be open-minded to all recommendations put forward. This particular code was substantially rewritten and came into effect in October 2009. This is the first instance we have of provisionally suspending players and working through a case so whatever learnings come out of it we will consider. As far as I understand, it is not binding from a legal perspective.”
The other broad concern has been the programme of education prescribed to Butt and Asif has been left under the auspices of the PCB, an administration that has only recently been given warnings by the ICC to put its house in order. But the emergence of the ICC’s Pakistan task team (PTT), believes Lorgat, should help matters. “The PCB has made remarkable strides in the last few months in supporting the zero tolerance approach we espouse. We will do everything possible to support them, working together with them through the PTT.”
The ICC’s role in the investigation, Lorgat said, proved their seriousness in protecting the game’s integrity. “It’s a fact that this is a kind of incident we don’t want to see in the game, but equally, with the speed with which we have got to this point, the hope is that people realised we are serious about maintaining our integrity and we will do everything to protect that. I hope as a result of what has transpired yesterday the image of the game has improved.”