Players, ICC hold breath as fixing verdict looms

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NEW DELHI – Much more will be at stake on Saturday than just three careers when lawyer Michael Beloff reads the verdict of an independent anti-corruption tribunal in Doha on cheating allegations facing three Pakistan cricketers.
The three-member tribunal heard the case against Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif last month for more than 45 hours spread over six days, poring over oral and written testimonies, watching video recordings and listening to tapes and forensic submissions. The cricketers face career-threatening bans if they are found guilty of so-called ‘spot-fixing’ during Pakistan’s test series in England last year. All three have consistently denied wrongdoing.
Saturday will be the judgment day at the Qatari capital and many cricket observers see the verdict as an indication of the ICC’s sincerity in tackling corruption in the game. “The verdict will tell us how serious ICC actually is about corruption,” cricket historian Boria Majumdar said. “The PCB has failed to deal firmly with the issue. It’s time for ICC to live up to its zero-tolerance policy on corruption,” Majumdar said.
“I think these players are going to be lost to Pakistan cricket for some years, which is sad,” former PCB chief Tauqir Zia told Reuters. “But if it is proven beyond doubt they were guilty of corruption in the sport, they (tribunal) must make an example of them for a better future of the sport.”
Former Pakistan skipper Aamir Sohail added: “When the PCB didn’t do anything the ICC acted and now I don’t think these players are going to be shown any leniency by the ICC.” Another former captain, Rashid Latif, praised the way ICC had tackled the issue but was not convinced that the menace can be rooted out altogether. “This is a good start. I hope the players have got a fair hearing,” he said.