Pakistan media: Cricket verdict tarnishes image

Salman Butt (left) and Mohammad Asif Salman Butt (left) and Mohammad Asif were tried at Southwark Crown Court

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Pakistani media and cricket fans say Tuesday's London court verdict finding two of the country's cricketers guilty in a "spot-fixing" scam has tarnished the game and the nation.

Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were both found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.

They plotted to deliberately bowl no-balls during a Lord's Test match against England last summer.

Another bowler, Mohammad Amir, admitted the charges prior to the trial.

All three are facing the prospect of jail terms.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia said the verdict had made it "even more committed" to tackling corruption.

'Really sad'

"Pakistan's convicted spot-fixers represent the gangrene that had been eroding the fabric of Pakistan's game," wrote Saad Shafqat, a Karachi-based writer, on the EspnCricinfo website.

"It hardly seems a coincidence that, following their exit from the team, Pakistan's fortunes on the field have improved."

Australian captain Michael Clarke, 23 Oct, Port Elizabeth, South Africa Australian captain Michael Clarke said the verdict should act as a strong deterrent

Readers of the Dawn newspaper's website said Tuesday's verdict put Pakistan cricket to shame.

"It's really sad. They lost their cricket career and Pakistan lost its best players," wrote Muhammad Tahir Jamali.

"[This] just goes to show how deep-rooted corruption has become in our society and has completely disintegrated the moral fabric," wrote another reader, Omair.

"With a bittersweet feeling, I welcome the decision as judicious. An undiluted sentence would send the right message to all. I hope for a day when our own courts also sentence those guilty of corruption unequivocally and somehow stem this rot."

The spot-fixing scandal tarnishes Pakistan's image in the world, wrote M Haroon Siddiqui in The Nation newspaper.

"Pakistan has lost some of the best cricketers and it can be hoped that this sends a message out to upcoming players that these short-cut methods to earn a quick buck can cost them respect and their career."

However, Saad Shafqat, on EspnCricinfo, wrote that Pakistan cricket had moved on.

"Pakistan cricket has proved itself to be resilient before, and in all likelihood will do so yet again," he wrote.

"Since the forfeited Oval Test of 2006, this team has suffered doping scandals, petty administrators, a coach found inexplicably dead in his hotel room, terrorism against a visiting team, and - for the foreseeable future - inability to play at home."

"The team's upswing following last year's infamous Lord's Test, when the spot-fixing disgrace initially broke, suggests it has moved on."

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said it was "critically important that the public has confidence in the integrity of the on-field cricket contests it sees".

He added: "Our consistent position has been that any credible evidence of corruption be investigated with vigour."

Australian captain Michael Clarke said the verdict "should act as a strong deterrent for any player or administrator who tries to denigrate our great game".

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