Former Pakistan cricketers Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt have been found guilty in a London court for fixing matches in relation to a “spot-betting” scam.
A jury in Southwark Crown Court found former captain Butt, 27, guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments; and found ex-fast bowler Asif, 28, guilty of conspiring to cheat.
The jury had reportedly deliberated for 17 hours.
The two men had denied all charges.
Specifically, Butt and Asif were found to have intentionally bowled no-balls during a Lord's Test match against the England club last summer.
During the trial, jurors heard that Asif and Butt, as well as fast bowler Mohammad Amir, conspired with Mazhar Majeed, a British-based sports agent, to fix parts of the Lord's Test last August.
Mr. Justice Cooke, the president judge, extended bail for Asif and Butt until sentencing later this week. The two face possible prison terms.
In “spot betting,” gamblers will wager cash on the most mundane minutiae of a match, for example, the specific timing of a no-ball.
Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC, said the case revealed a depressing tale of rampant corruption at the heart of international cricket.”
BBC reported that the two defendants evinced no reaction to the guilty verdicts.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the only prior conviction of athletes in the UK on the charges of cheating occurred in 1964 when three football players were jailed for fixing matches.
Aleem Maqbool, a BBC correspondent in Lahore, Pakistan, said that some of Asif and Butt’s countrymen detect a conspiracy. He quotes a cricket fan in Lahore saying: The West just wants to destroy the image of Pakistan. We need to get to the real truth.
However, another fan told Maqbool that he acknowledged cheating exists in Pakistani cricket. This involvement in betting has blackened Pakistan's name. They also put the whole nation through the shock. They must be punished and punished severely, he said.
Of greater concern now, is the integrity of test cricket and how fans will view future matches.
BBC sports correspondent James Pearce, commented that the International Cricket Council (ICC), the sport’s governing body, will have to be asked, and will have to answer, what they are going to do in the future to make sure that they can actually uncover this and not rely on journalists?”
Other prominent cricketers commented on the guilty verdict.
Former England fast bowler Angus Fraser, told UK media that the decisions could be a watershed for cricket.
It shows young cricketers that there is a consequence to their behavior. In the past players have been banned and then they have come back, he told BBC.
The International Cricket Council has got to support the players, see these signs and help them out of predicaments, but also see [that] if players do commit these offenses they are punished severely.
Asid Iqbal, a former Pakistan cricket captain told BBC it was a sad day for cricket and said the case would send out a huge message.”