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Nov 02, 2011 at 10:34am IST

English jury ends careers of Butt, Asif

Islamabad: Corruption convictions against Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir in court on Tuesday were expected to terminate playing careers that were already in doubt from international suspensions.

The threesome, already beyond wealthy by Pakistan standards, gambled their cricket careers by taking a shortcut to riches by conspiring to fix parts of the Lord's Test against England in August 2010.

The International Cricket Council banned all three of them for at least five years. Even then, all three were still young enough to have possibly made comebacks, especially the teenager Amir. But their convictions in London's Southwark Crown Court were likely to leave too big a stain for any of them to return to the game. They face up to seven years in jail in sentencing later this week.

English jury brings end to careers of Butt, Asif

Until the scandal hit, Butt, Asif and Amir were in position to forge great careers in Pakistan cricket.

Former Pakistan Test cricketers described Tuesday as a tragic day in Pakistan cricket, and some said Pakistan should take heed from the sport's worst scandal in more than a decade.

"We should move forward and learn from this," another former opening batsman Aamir Sohail told Dunya TV. "If we do not learn from today such things will hit us again."

Until the scandal hit, Butt, Asif and Amir were in position to forge great careers and spearhead Pakistan to much better fortunes.

Last year, all three were at the forefront of turning around a team that was in disarray from infighting. Butt became the Test captain at 26, Asif had somehow come back from doping suspensions to continue being a threat to any seasoned batsmen on any surface, and Amir was considered the hottest fast bowling prospect in the world.

Amir made his Test debut at 17 in 2009, and became the youngest at 18 to 50 Test wickets.

Unlike Butt and Asif, Amir didn't go to court because he pleaded guilty early on to conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments as part of a betting scam involving bowling predetermined no-balls against England. Butt and Asif were convicted after a jury found them guilty of both charges.

"The future of these cricketers is finished," former fast bowler Jalaluddin said.

"When you stay away from the game for such a long period there's always a chance that someone else will take your place in the team."

"I can only give a 15-20 percent chance to Amir to make a comeback in international cricket. But even then it will be difficult for him because, who knows, we could find another promising fast bowler."

It is not the first time Pakistan cricket has been hit by a match-fixing scandal.

Pakistan captain Salim Malik and teammate Ataur Rehman became the first cricketers to be banned for match-fixing in 1999, but the bans were lifted by a Pakistan court.

"Our future generation should learn from today's verdict," said former Test fast bowler Sikander Bakht.

Former Test captain and wicket-keeper Rashid Latif didn't expect Butt and Asif to be convicted and blamed his country's poor cricket administration, which has been governed on an ad-hoc basis for more than a decade.

"I think not only the players should be blamed for what has happened today; we didn't have a strong administration," Latif said.

"But as a player I am very sad today because after 10 years this match-fixing saga has haunted us."

The latest scandal came to light when the agent for Butt and Asif, Mazhar Majeed, was caught in a sting by the British tabloid News of the World, which no longer exists.

"They have earned a bad name to Pakistan cricket and it's a sad day," said former Test legspinner Iqbal Qasim.

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