The five year bans for Butt, Asif and Amir are harsh

No doubt the majority of people reading this post will think that five years isn’t enough. When the words ‘Pakistani’ and ‘fixing’ are placed in the same sentence, cricket fans’ blood pressure goes through the roof. In fact, public hanging and disembowelling probably isn’t enough for some people – and I’d agree, if we were talking about Ricky Ponting. Not that Ponting has done much wrong since his infamous spat with the umpires at Melbourne. I just want to see Punter disembowelled for the fun of it.

Now before the cricketing right start jumping up and down (and start calling for life bans for ultra liberal cricket blog writers) let me make one thing clear. Nobody at The Full Toss thinks that spot fixing should be condoned. What Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir did is inexcusable. Nobody should be able to bring the game into disrepute and get away with it. But the five year bans handed down by the ICC are surely too harsh.

Let’s look at what the offenders did in isolation. Two poorly paid Pakistan cricketers, one of whom is just a teenager, bowled two noballs during a test match. The noballs in question had no effect on the outcome of the game. In fact, if it wasn’t for The News of the World, the incident would have gone unnoticed. It wasn’t like the Pakistan v Australia test match at Sydney a few months beforehand (which blatantly raised eyebrows).

Please don’t think I’m dismissing the broader implications of spot fixing and match fixing. Corruption in cricket should be wiped off the map. But I cannot escape the feeling that the ICC have made an example of Butt, Asif and Amir. When the authorities make an example of anyone, it is inherently unfair. The punishment should always fit the crime.

When Shahid Afridi was banned for ball tampering (actual cheating) last year, he received a two game ban. Is manipulating two ultimately inconsequential balls of a test match a more heinous crime? And what about other sports? Athletes who take drugs (again obvious cheating) often get two year bans and then continue their careers. Just ask Dwain Chambers. And let’s not forget events at the Oval in the infamous forfeited test. If you tamper with the ball the penalty is five runs. If you spot-fix two balls the punishment is five years! How does that make sense?

In my opinion, Butt, Amir and Asif have been punished for other people’s crimes as well as their own. I cannot believe the committee which handed out their punishments wasn’t thinking of the Sydney debacle and other suspicious events. Should Amir be punished extra hard because Kamran Akmal and other players allegedly threw the SCG test?

When the likes of Hanse Cronje received life bans for match-fixing (clearly a worse offence), they were up to ears in corruption and had ties with the underworld. As far as we know, Mohammad Amir was only in the pocket of his agent. There is nothing to suggest, in Amir’s case, that his spot fixing at Lords was the tip of the iceberg. He should be tried on the basis of events at Lords, not imagined (or assumed) further crimes. 

Consequently, I believe that a two or three year ban would have sufficed. Remember, the cricketers involved still face criminal proceedings too. Their punishments could get a lot worse. Furthermore, has one incidence of spot-fixing damaged cricket anymore than the absurd scheduling of the international calendar – including, of course, the mind numbing seven match CB series at the end of the Ashes?

If the primary argument for punishing Butt, Amir and Asif so severely is that they’ve undermined the credibility of cricket, surely nothing does that more effectively than the scheduling of unnecessary matches involving fatigued teams that cannot perform to the best of their abilities.

The CB series has devalued cricket, exhausted the players, short-changed the public (who have paid good money to watch an exhausted England side struggle to stay awake), and totally ruined England’s preparations for the World Cup – six of our players have now gone home injured.

The protracted series also means our cricketers will get just three days at home before they fly to the ICC’s showpiece  – an event that’s scheduled to finish in early April. If England get to the final – a big ‘if’ considering that we’ll probably struggle to find XI fit players – the likes of Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen would have spent just three days at home in six months. It’s simply ridiculous.

What is the bigger crime? What devalues cricket more? Manipulating two deliveries out of a possible 2,700 (the maximum number balls in a test match) or a schedule that has created a number of meaningless ODIs – matches which also put players at risk of injury/burn out. A fatigued cricketer is just as likely to underperform as one that’s been tapped up to bowl a couple of noballs – no matter how despicable defrauding bookmakers may be.

James Morgan


  • 2 or 3 years would have been far too light a punishment. It appears the ICC are disappointed with the independent panel only giving a 5 year ban. Don’t quite understand why Amir gets a theoretical lesser punishment due to his age and that his opinion and actions could have been swayed by impressionable colleagues. I imagine that this issue will run and run as the players could take their case to the Court of Arbitration for sport.

    • When you consider that Asif has been in trouble before (for drugs etc) perhaps he should have had a harsher punishment than Amir.

  • Pusillanimous bullshit.

    It’s this sort of “it’s not that serious” attitude which encourages cheating in sport. The benefits of cheating (lots of money) must seem extremely tempting to some, and when weighed against the negatives – the tiny chance of getting caught – must be more so. When you then make it so that, in the unlikely event they get caught, and the even unlikelier event it can be proved, the punishment is so mild as a couple of years suspension, there is virtually no deterrent to cheating. Surely you remember Gibbs describing his suspension for match fixing as ‘a nice rest’?

    What’s more, it diminishes entirely what they’ve done. It wasn’t a couple of no balls that were irrelevant. It was crossing the line from playing sport to win, with the good faith of the supporters, to playing to order at the command of bookies with the specific aim of defrauding the fans. They are entirely different.

    The no-balls were just a proof of faith from the players to the ‘bookies’ (who, of course, were actually from the NotW). It was proof that they could deliver results to order. It was the tip of the iceberg. It was a copper fixing a parking ticket to prove he could.

    Cheating has probably existed in all teams in some part, but it’s been particularly damaging for Pakistan. Since the corruption of the nineties was exposed, and Malik banned, no one trusts them anymore. No one trusts the result of any game. They steal everyone’s glory. Any win against them, any individual performance of genius, is just reduced to the implication that Pakistan let it happen. Just think of Broad’s great century. Perhaps the greatest moment of his life, and within hours it had been stolen from him by the suggestion that Pakistan was throwing the game for the bookies. It’s impossible to win against Pakistan – if you lose, they beat you, in their own brilliant style, if you win, they threw the match for money. Doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not any more.

    When players cheat like that, they’re not just trashing their own game, they’re trashing everyone’s. It all just stinks in the end, and you want to make match fixing an occupational hazard, a minor blip in someone’s career.

    If you want to see where that ends, watch the Tour De France this summer. One of the greatest sporting spectacles in the world, an almost unrivalled feat of endurance and sheer guts, and not even the most ardent fan believes the winner isn’t using drugs.

    Asif has already been caught taking drugs, ball tampering, and chucking. Now match fixing. Why is he on the pitch? Amir is cheating before he’s shaving. Rather than excusing him because he’s young, I condemn him because cheating is so ingrained in him he’s fixing games before he’s had the chance to become cynical.

    Zero tolerance. Life bans. You make the choice – play cricket or fix matches. Don’t let them do both.

    • ‘Bullshit’ eh? I will be more polite in my response to you. A 2-3 year ban, plus criminal charges, is more than enough of a deterrent. And you must remember that the players did not ‘cheat’ or throw a match. Who says they weren’t trying to win the Lords test? Not me. People are confusing match-fixing, and cheating, with spot-fixing a couple of noballs. What is worse, ball tampering or spot fixing a noball? Ball tampering IS cheating. It will effect the outcome of a match and cheats the game and the opponent. Do ball tamperers get 5 year bans? Of course not. Perhaps you believe that all ball tamperers (or miscreants of any kind) should get lifetime bans – because that would be the result if your logic is applied universally.

      By the way, I agree with you that Asif should have been punished more harshly. He has been a serial offender. But life bans for Amir too? Surely not. Some time ago, somewhere, I bet a Pakistani wrote that Atherton should have received a life ban for rubbing dirt into the ball. And what about Warne and Waugh passing info to illegal bookmakers. That wasn’t good for the game either. What happened to them?

  • So, by your logic, how many balls does one have to fix before it becomes a problem?

    Five? Ten? A hundred? How many wickets fall on no-balls before it becomes relevant? How much of the game do players have to be thinking about serving their bookie masters rather than their team before it’s an issue?

    I think perhaps it’s you who has to think about the relevance of spot fixing. The ‘irrelevant no-balls’ were just proof of their intentions, they were not the be all and end all. Spot fixing is also betting on when wickets fall (which is a far bigger market than no-balls). Is it still irrelevant if the opening batsman gives his wicket away in the first over because he’s paid to do it? Is it still irrelevant if players drop catches because it’s the wrong moment to take a wicket? Is it still irrelevant if bowlers don’t bowl at the stumps in case they get someone out? Spread betting, likewise. Is it ok if bowlers start feeding the batsmen runs because the bookies want a score over 300? Is it ok if the tailenders ‘collapse’ because it’s better for their employers if they don’t score above a certain number? At what point does it affect the game? Non of it is match-fixing, but it’s not playing fair, either, and it’s not what you paid your ticket money for.

    How corrupt does a player have to be before he shouldn’t be allowed on the pitch, or are you fine with people moonlighting the whole time they’re playing, at your expense?

    • Everything you are saying makes sense, but you are missing the point. At no point have a said that spot-fixing isn’t a serious issue. The perpetrators should be punished – and they have been. My beef is the length / type of punishment. There is no consistency, and therefore the bans are harsh. According to the ICC, the punishment for ball tampering (an equally heinous crime) is a FIVE RUN penalty. If you spot-fix two deliveries that are ultimalely irrelevant to the result, the penalty is FIVE YEARS suspension! How is that fair?

      • I think you’re arguing the wrong side of it. Treat ball tampering more seriously, not corruption less seriously.

        Corruption is a cancer in any sport. Once people lose faith that the people on the pitch are playing in good faith, the game loses a lot more than it does from ball tampering.

        (And I suspect the primary reason ball tampering is largely ignored by the ICC is because of the massive political lobbying of the Asian block. It’s the same reason chucking is now legal. Think back to the times Murali got called for chucking, and Pakistan got called for ball tampering. The teams walked off in protest both times, the umpire was called a racist, and is now unemployed – the players continued their careers).

  • “Some time ago, somewhere, I bet a Pakistani wrote that Atherton should have received a life ban for rubbing dirt into the ball. And what about Warne and Waugh passing info to illegal bookmakers. That wasn’t good for the game either. What happened to them?”

    You are reinforcing my point. High profile players have gone unpunished, or mildly punished for cheating, and it obviously wasn’t a deterrent.

    • In that case the authorities should have draw a line in the sand beforehand and said ‘from this point onwards, corruption will not be tolerated’. To impose a lengthy ban on a teenage cricketer (after a first offence) when more experienced players have got away with murder in the past, simply proves that Amir has been harshly treated. Also, I reiterate that not being able to earn money for 2-3 years, on top of whatever punichment the CPS comes up with, would have been punishment enough, and a suitable deterrent for potential miscreants in the future. Five years, or a life ban, would have been absurdly harsh considering what has happened in the past.

      • If a police officer agreed to take bribes in his first few weeks on the job, would that sound like he was more or less corrupt than one who was jaded and about to retire?

        The reality is, you’re either corrupt or you’re not. Likewise ‘I didn’t realize I’d be punished so harshly’ is not a defence. it just means you base your honesty on the possible consequences rather than on what you think is the right thing to do.

        The world isn’t short of cricketers. Amir earns about a thousand times what the average kid in Pakistan earns, and that wasn’t enough. He started taking backhanders in his first year in the game. He’ll have five years to think about that.

  • Dwain Chambers – drug cheat – two year ban
    Schalk Burger – eye gouging – possibly blinding another professional – eight week ban
    Mohammad Amir – five years!
    Sport needs consistency.

    I also think your argument that ball tampering is much worse than spot fixing is highly subjective. You are entitled to your opinion, of course, as I am entitled to mine. Why should corruption (even minor corruption that is insignificant in terms of the result) a worse crime that out right cheating i.e. breaking the rules, securing an unfair advantage, and rendering the result flawed. It could be argued that ball tampering is a lot more cynical.

    • That’s a straw man. I haven’t compared or contrasted the cricketers’ punishments with anything else, you have. If I were asked for an opinion, Chambers should have been banned for life as well. Drug cheats in athletics, like fixers in sport, undermine the integrity of the sport and destroy everyone’s faith in the result.

      Burger deserved a decent punishment. His actions, however, affected the safety of a player, not the integrity of an entire sport.

      You are just reinforcing the opinion that cheats in sport are not punished hard enough, whilst at the same time arguing that a sportsman’s punishment is too harsh.

      ” (even minor corruption that is insignificant in terms of the result)”

      This is a lot of what I take objection to. It was not insignificant. The no-balls, in and of themselves, made no difference to the game. However, from the players point of view, they were a commitment to a relationship with a bookie during which they would undermine the integrity of the games they played in. You can not be ‘a bit corrupt’, and pick and choose when you are. Once you work for a bookie you do whatever he says, you have no choice. Hanse Cronje started out giving a few tips to a bookie, then fixing the odd wicket, all of it irrelevant to the result. But by then Cronje had no choice but to do whatever the bookie told him, even when it came to fixing the famous Test with England in ridiculous circumstances. He had no choice, because the bookie can have him in prison with one phone call if he refuses.

      Cheating can at least be tempered and tackled on the pitch, but corruption is an insidious cancer the damages the game from within. It makes the fans cynical and turns people away. It makes the result irrelevant. You can see someone claim a catch they didn’t take, but the thought that a team isn’t trying very hard on purpose seems somehow dirtier. Everytime Pakistan loses, people wonder whether it because of money, and that’s the result of past corruption. Every incident like this makes it worse.

      It’s worth putting their actions into perspective, too. At the time of the incident, Pakistan was suffering from catastrophic natural disaster with millions of their countrymen dead. We were lining up fundraising games, they were lining their own pockets when they already had the good fortune to be away from it and far richer that 99% of Pakistanis.

      I have no idea why anyone thinks they deserves sympathy.

      • I see. So you have jumped to all kinds of assumptions about Amir and Co. Because he made a mistake once, he must be doing it all the time and be in the pocket of various corrupt bookmakers. That is the problem with your argument. In a fair trial, you are judged on the one incident in question. The jury cannot (or should not) make assumptions about other things you MIGHT be doing – otherwise it isn’t a fair trial. And by the way, I am not being sympathetic to the Pakistanis. They did wrong and they should be punished. However punishments should be proportionate to other offences – and in this case, they aren’t.

  • Phew, that is heated.

    Couple of point to add: firstly all three could get 7 years at HM’s pleasure if found guilty (of a crime) in a Court of England. The logic here is that it is not just cricket fans they have defrauded of a fair game but a whole range of people who gamble…

    The other thing is understanding how this operates: you get someone to do something perfectly innocent (Warne and Waugh) by providing information that the Captain would give at a pre-match interview (state of the pitch) and then give then a few quid. You then up the cash and ask for something that really doesn’t mean anything (a no ball or two). Then you have them. You invite them to affect the result for lots of money, and if they refuse threaten them with exposure. Oh and before you disagree this is how the oldest profession of corruption has operated since time began – espionage.

    If the ICC is serious about stamping this out, then they have to make the penalty so draconian it is not worthwhile. There is a risk-reward ratio here for the player: how much can I earn from few no balls with the risk of being banned compared to another few years playing cricket with the risk of a loss of form, being injured or (in the case of Pakistan players) getting banned by the Board because we lost.

    • I am not disputing what you’re saying mate. I totally agree that punishments should be harsh enough to be a deterrent. Where I differ from the majority is (a) that a five year ban (which prevents you from earning money from your career), plus a possible prison sentence, isn’t a deterrent. It surely is! In my opinion a 2-3 year ban would equally be a deterrent.

      (b) I cannot condone making an example of people. If the authorities had said beforehand that anyone who spot-fixes will get a 5 year ban then Amir etc would only have themselves to blame. But when cricketers have got off so lightly in the past, and then 3 people are suddenly hanged from the gallows, it is surely unfair on them. If I was arrested for speeding and received a four year prison sentence, when everyone before me got a slap on the wrist, I would be apoplectic! I realise this is perhaps pushing the point a little too far (I’m not seriously comparing spot fixing to speeding!) but I’m simply trying to highlight that sentences should be consistent.

      If the ICC are serious about stamping out corruption – and lets remember they’ve had years and years to do so – they should have made it clear what the punishments would be BEFORE not after the event.

      The other thing I should say it that there is no evidence that Amir etc were in the pockets of criminal elements, or being groomed / trapped for future corruption. Mazhar Majeed is obviously a shady character but he is not the Godfather. In fact, he owns a football club in Croydon (or at least he did until recently). People who wanted Amir etc to get life bans are simply imagining a worse case scenario and punishing them for further crimes they haven’t actually committed (to our knowledge).

      • “If the authorities had said beforehand that anyone who spot-fixes will get a 5 year ban then Amir etc would only have themselves to blame.”

        Manoj Probhakar, Ajay Jadeja, and Ajay Sharma all got between five years and life for associating with bookies.

  • “I see. So you have jumped to all kinds of assumptions about Amir and Co. Because he made a mistake once, he must be doing it all the time and be in the pocket of various corrupt bookmakers.”

    There is no assumption. The ‘mistake once’ bit is crucial, as Teece pointed out. The reason a seemingly minor incident is so serious is because once you cross the line you cannot go back. Whether or not they want to cheat in the future, they have little choice without leaving themselves open to public shame, the end of their careers, and possible imprisonment.

    This is a well established method of committing people to betrayal, and much as was described by Cronje and others caught cheating.

    ” That is the problem with your argument. In a fair trial, you are judged on the one incident in question. The jury cannot (or should not) make assumptions about other things you MIGHT be doing – otherwise it isn’t a fair trial”

    This isn’t quite true, either. It is perfectly acceptable for a court to punish someone for committing to a course of action, even if that course of action never takes place. Government employees are severely punished for passing secrets, even if those secrets aren’t particularly important. Police officers have been punished for committing to taking bribes, even if they haven’t done anything in return. It is the significance of the action which is important.

    “However punishments should be proportionate to other offences – and in this case, they aren’t.”

    Manoj probhakar got five years suspension for associating with bookies, as did Ajay Jadeja. Ajay Sharma got a life ban for associating with bookies. Azharuddin, Salim Malik, and Hanse Cronje all got life bans for match fixing.

    If Ajay Sharma got a life ban for associating with bookies, how is it harsher to get a five year ban for taking bribes from bookies? There is precedent for their bans.

    • Show me evidence that what Mohammad Amir did was just as bad as Jadeja, Sharma, Azharruddin etc if you’re so sure. As far as I’m aware, the evidence against Azharuddin applied to multiple counts including match fixing. As for Cronje, that was definitely match fixing which is different.

      And in what way have Amir etc ‘committed to a course of action’ in the future? As far as we know, they made one mistake. As for ‘once you cross the line you cannot go back’ I simply cannot agree. Cronje was in league with major bookmakers and contrived to fix matches. Amir was in the pocket of … err … his agent.

      He took money from his agent to bowl a noball at the request of the News of the World. Unless Mazhar Majeed is the cricketing equivalent Vito Corleone, your argument doesn’t stack up. You are assuming that Amir etc were up to the eyes in bigger scandals. They may well have been – but there is no evidence to prove they were! We have to judge them and pass judgement on what we know, not what we suspect.

      If, for example, it is proven in the future that certain cricketers are in the pockets of illegal bookmakers and have fixed matches or spot fixed for several years, then I would accept that longer bans, or life bans, would be appropriate. But as far as we know at this stage, Amir etc were not.

  • James, your logic just doesn’t stack up.

    The ICC have made it clear in terms of penalties imposed for this type offence and is full documented (the panel claimed that the length of bans were dictated by the ICC tariffs). Despite the ICC efforts to raise players awareness, it appears that the trio though it was worth the risk of getting caught, ergo the deterrent is not stiff enough.

    As for the entrapment part, no there might not be any evidence against the trio, but my point wasn’t made about them but more generally about why tolerance should be so low.

  • I’m sorry, but where are the punishments about spot-fixing clearly defined? The Pakistan anti-corruption programme has only just been introduced. There are penalties for match fixing, and passing info to bookmakers, but nothing like the codification some are suggesting here.

    In 1995, Matt LeTissier admitted that he attempted to kick the ball out of play immediately after the kick off in order to win money on spread betting. He’d arranged to do so in order for himself, and a consortium of friends, to win money. Should LeTissier have been banned for life?!

    I have sympathy for the view that the 5 year bans seem harsh compared to other offences. Ponting shouted at the umpires, setting an awful example for youngsters and bringing the game into disrepute, but he didn’t receive as much as a one game suspension.

    Similarly, ball tampering is a terrible offence yet nobody has been punished for 5 years – which adds up to a (approx) 100 match ban. And what of drug takers in sport. Matt Stevens, the England rugby player, was banned for 2 years. And now people are welcoming him back with open arms. Surely a player is allowed to make one mistake without his entire career, and means of income, being taken away from him?

    What Butt & Co did brought the game into disrepute, but they were not part of a greater conspiracy. Their crimes are no worse than what LeTissier did i.e. manufacturing innocuous aspects of a match for monetary gain. But I suppose that because it’s Pakistani cricketers, rather than an English footballer, everyone can’t wait to throw the book at them! In my opinion, that isn’t fair.

    • Le Tissier didn’t admit in 1995, the incident happened in 1995. He didn’t admit it until he had retired. He used the incident to hype his autobiography, thus cheating his beloved game twice.

      And since when has the ICC governed football?

    • Andy- re Matt Stevens- he took cocaine, hardly a performance enhancing drug, got a ban and is now back playing. But there is a clear difference here; the drug is not performance enhancing so his only crime (to rugby) was to the image of rugby players as clean living plus he admitted his guilt, served his time, worked on drug awareness volunteering and has shown contrition.
      That is different on a number of issues from the Pakistani 3

      • It’s handy to know why cocaine is banned at all, given it has the opposite effect desired for a sportsman hoping to improve.

        For WADA to effectively implement drugs testing and punishment, they needed the cooperation of governments. The quid pro quo many governments insisted upon was they they also banned recreational drugs to help them in their own anti-drugs campaigns. That’s why cannabis, for instance (a less performance enhancing drug it’s hard to think of) is banned, and has led to a number of sportsmen being punished.

  • People are really fired up about this. However, it’s important to realise that my article above is not forgiving the Pakistan players, or saying spot fixing isn’t bad. Really, it is simply advocating a 2-3 year ban rather than a 5 year ban – mainly because, if you look at other sports, the punishment for various forms of cheating / corruption is usually about 2 years.

    Why should cricketers be punished more harshly than atheletes in other arenas? That is why, at the end of the day, I believe a 5 year ban is harsh. Let’s not get spot fixing out of perspective. It is not cheating (unless you’re referring to cheating bookmakers!) and Mohammad Amir is not Hanse Cronje. Yes, corruption in cricket needs to be stamped out, but to make an example of an 18 year old, who has never been in trouble for anything before – and who’s crimes are less serious than Mrs Azharuddin / Sharma ‘ Cronje etc – is rather harsh.

    People love jumping up and down about corruption in Pakistan, but we shouldn’t make three individuals a punch bag for broader problems within the game. If this had been match-fixing then I would be advocating a life ban. If it was 3 cricketers up to their ears in corruption, and it is proven that they’re in league with illegal bookmakers and the underworld (and have been for years) then again I’d advocate harsher punishments. However, as far as we know at this stage, they haven’t been.

    If the ICC want to make an example of someone, Mohammad Amir is not that person. He hasn’t thrown any matches and he isn’t a pawn of illegal bookmakers. He is, at the end of the day, just a very silly and immature boy. Until it is proven otherwise, I believe his transgression is no more serious than drugs cheats, ball tamperers etc. Therefore, I do not believe his ban should be three times longer than the punishment given to Diego Maradona, who was caught taking drugs THREE times, yet only received a 15 month ban.

    Yes, the ICC do not control punishments for other sports, but let’s have some perspective, please.

  • ” However, it’s important to realise that my article above is not forgiving the Pakistan players, or saying spot fixing isn’t bad. ”

    Perhaps it would help clarify if you told us what you think is wrong with spot fixing?

    • It’s illegal and it raises suspicions that the game isn’t honest. Perhaps you’d like to explain why you think spot fixing is infinitely worse than drug taking and ball tampering – and therefore deserves much harsher punishments?

      Ed Giddins got an 18-month ban for using cocaine, and Afridi got 2 games (a week ban?) for ball tampering. By giving Amir etc a 5 yr ban, the authorities are saying that spot fixing is 260 times worse! i.e there are 260 weeks in 5 years.

      • But you’ve already said it isn’t cheating and doesn’t affect the outcome of the game? If so, what’s the problem? Let them do it. You’re advocating a two-three year ban for a little fun and games which doesn’t affect the game. That sounds pretty harsh.

        As I’ve just posted stories about a dozen leading sports figures who advocate life bans for drug use, seems odd to say I think spot fixing is infinitely worse. Likewise, you are repeating a fallacy, in that I think the punishments for ball tampering and other forms of cheating are fair. I’ve said several times I think they should be taken far more seriously, and punished accordingly.

        I want to know why you want to give a three year ban to a naive kid who made a mistake, who has no previous, and whose actions were not cheating nor affected the result of the game? How is that fair compared to Alberto Contador, who is facing only a one year ban for doping during the Tour De France, which he won?

  • “But you’ve already said it isn’t cheating and doesn’t affect the outcome of the game? If so, what’s the problem? Let them do it”.

    Now come on, that’s rather childish. Anything that’s illegal and corrupts the sport should be punished – as I have said. My beef isn’t with you remember, the article is complaining that 5 year bans are harsh compared to what the punishments for other offences actually are – not what you think they should be. My argument is that 5 year bans for spot fixing are disproportionate compared to the punishments for other offences.

    The fact that the cyclist you mention only got a one-year ban simply illustrates my point. This is all getting a little silly now. I suppose someone could argue that the cyclist didn’t earn money through corrupt sources, nor take part in a conspiracy (and therefore his ban should be shorter than Amir’s) but I’m not getting into that. It is not my intention to tell the world what the punishments for different offences in different sports should be (I know nothing about cycling for example) – I am simply saying that a 5 year ban for Amir seems harsh compared to the punishments dished out to other athletes in other sports, plus other cricketers.

    • I’m highlighting the fact that if you want to decide what a fair punishment is for an offence, you have to decide what is wrong with the action and how it affects the sport.

      In defending your position that the bans are too harsh, you have said that spot fixing isn’t cheating and it doesn’t affect the outcome of the game. If so, three year bans seem very harsh compared to, say, two years for years of doping during which you won many athletics medals, such as with Dwaine Chambers.

      It is you who has argued for consistency, not me. Personally, I don’t see why cricket can’t decide on its own punishments. Sport isn’t consistent in its nature and administrators need to consider different things in relation to their own sport, not to others. For instance, drugs are not a big issue in golf, but they are still banned. Drugs in cycling, however, have brought the sport to the brink. Draconian measures are used (such as removing entire teams from the TdF if a single cyclist is caught doping) and life bans are on the table.

      Cricket is a sport particularly vulnerable to corruption, and cricket needs to treat it seriously.

  • I’m not really sure that comparison to other sports is helpful (Ricky Ponting would look like an angel next to Ashley Cole). Cricket can only control cricket. I agree that they might not be taking some other thing seriously enough. Ball tampering is cheating, just like this incident, and should be dealt with more firmly.

    As for about the codification, it is there as the panel which handed down the sentences noted saying that the bans were in line with the punishment (in fact they called for a review of it – apparently because they wanted to be more lenient which was James argument in the first place).

    Do I feel sorry for Asif and Butt? Not at all, no excuses, they knew what they were doing and senior enough to be able to say no. Amir? Yes I do as he may well have been naive (see Oliver Brett’s interview with him on the BBC) but in the end, he must have know that morally it was wrong.

    Can I asked the question the other way round? How long do people think bans should be (for the range of offences discussed here) to rid the game of cheating? Remember that the possible bans need to act as a deterrent.

    • “I agree that they might not be taking some other thing seriously enough. Ball tampering is cheating, just like this incident, and should be dealt with more firmly”.

      Exactly. We agree on this. The article is simply saying that it’s wrong to make an example of 3 players when the penalties are so lenient for other offences.

  • In terms of deciding upon appropriate action, it’s worth thinking about the effect certain actions have on the game. For instance;

    England has thrashed WI in virtually every Test in the last ten years, yet when they suddenly got skittled for fifty and lost a match, everyone blamed a typical England batting collapse.

    Australia has thrashed Pakistan in virtually every Test for the last twenty years, yet when they won the Sydney Test, during a series in which Pakistan’s performances were laughably bad, Pakistan widely accused of match fixing and investigated by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit.

    Will readmitting three players who’ve all proved themselves open to bribery make the perception of Pakistani cricket better or worse, do you think…? Will it strengthen or weaken cricket?

    • I think readmitting the three players after lengthy bans is fine. After all, the ICC/PCB could quite rightly argue that anything over a 2 year ban (more than Maradona, Chambers etc) is a very harsh punishment and clearly a deterrent for future miscreants ;-) Banning them for life (i.e. refusing to readmit wrongdoers indefinitely) might make the sport look draconian and unreasonable. Besides, whenever the PCB tries to impose life bans on its players for various reasons (Mohammad Yousuf etc) they usually realise they’ve been a bit hasty within a month or so and reverse the decision – and therefore they end up looking stupid!

  • Let’s not bring the actions of the PCB be into this… They are not credible in any sense of the word.

  • QUOTE: “What is the bigger crime? What devalues cricket more? Manipulating two deliveries out of a possible 2,700 (the maximum number balls in a test match) or a schedule that has created a number of meaningless ODIs”

    What a question! One is a crime, one isn’t. One might lead to prison, the other won’t and shouldn’t (we just some rescheduling). I’m fine with the bans as they are.

    But yes, there’s too much international cricket. Less cricket though means less money in the short term. We need a slimmed down model for English domestic cricket so that it doesn’t take £300m from Sky, no cricket on free-to-air and an exhausting international schedule to run.

    • Totally agree Jon. We’d like to see the same if possible.

      I see you’ve picked up on my unfortunate use of the word ‘crime’ there. Of course, I didn’t mean crime literally in this instance (perhaps ‘what does more damage’ would have been more appropriate!). However, if I could arrest and imprison those responsible for the schedule that’s injured six of our players, I would surely do so. Hang on, would imprisoning them be too draconian ;-) ?

  • Spot Fixing (SF) and Match Fixing (MF) are worse than any other cricket offence – because the player is not concentrating on the competition – and competition is what spectators are wanting to see.
    (the hint is in the fact that the players are also called competitors)

    Yes, drugs, ball tampering etc are awful but at least (I know that sounds strange) the players are doing it because they want to win.

    Spectators will pay to watch a cheat play (mostly to see them beaten) but when a competitor does not enter the arena to win (or the spectator believes that they are not fully committed to the game) then any tension, and therefore excitement, evaporates. Without excitement you have no spectators.

    This has very little to do with “justice” and everything to do with the health of cricket – I am not satisfied that Pakistani cricket is now clean so I can see absolutely no reason to watch any of their matches.
    To which you may reply that you can still admire some of their athletes – by that same token I might as well watch the circus or professional wrestling instead – but I am far more interested in proper sporting tension.

    You may think that long bans are unfair – my concern is that the ICC almost seem to be satisfied with banning these three rather than rooting out corruption in the professional game – I personally think the bans should be longer – a clear message needs to be sent that SF & MF can never be tolerated

    As a side note I don’t think that The Full Toss has taken this issue seriously at all – when you first mentioned the issue you were content to doubt the truth of the News of The World’s evidence and ignore the opinions of journalists and former players who found the evidence to be very powerful – now that they have been found guilty you think the players should just get a slap on the wrist (which is what a 2-3 year ban is when balanced against vast back handers)

    Personally I think that SF & MF could kill the game in vast sections of the globe.

    • *Like*

      Quite. When you watch boxing, even if it’s a dirty fight – low blows, gouging, rabbit punches – you’ve still seen a fight. When you watch WWE, you’re watching ‘entertainment’.

  • It seems like england players using one drug so that they can see the ball much bigger than the original ball we see .
    i dont know how to make icc to know this matter and i tried this as a die heart indian fan
    and i am saying particularly about drugs because the no1 team is struggling to face each and every ball in the otherhand the england players are like playing with children bowling

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