'Our image has been tarnished'
Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt expressed confidence that spot-fixing will never raise its ugly head again in Pakistan cricket after a London court found Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif guilty on the charges of conspiracy to cheat, obtain and accept corrupt payments.
In the first criminal conviction of cricketers anywhere in the world, a 12-member jury at the Southwark Crown Court in London found former Test captain Butt and pacer Asif guilty of receiving corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat in the spot-fixing scandal that rocked the world cricket last year.
The third accused, 19-year-old pacer Mohammad Aamir, who was also involved in the conspiracy, did not face trial as he had pleaded guilty.
"It is indeed a sad day for Pakistan cricket because our image has been tarnished but I hope this never happens again to us," said Butt on Tuesday.
"I am confident that this will not happen again in Pakistan cricket. The PCB took several stringent measures to ensure every player and official was aware of how to conduct themselves and stay away from corrupt people," said Butt.
Photographs: Getty Images
Image: Ijaz Butt
'They kept on lying to us'
The former administrator said he still rued the fact that Butt, Asif and Aamir did not tell him the truth when the PCB first enquired them in England.
"I remember myself, the Pakistan High Commissioner in London and our legal advisors asked the cricketers to tell us everything and we assured them we would do everything in our power to help them.
"But they kept on lying to us and we had no option but to believe the players and it is because of them we see this day today. When your players say they are innocent and clean you have to believe them," said Butt, a former Test player.
"I am happy that at least Aamir had the sense to realise what he has done and admitted his mistake," he added.
Image: Mohammad Amir (left) with Mohammad Asif (behind) and Salman Butt
'Pakistan cricket's image has taken a beating'
Pakistan's manager on the ill-fated England tour, Yawar Saeed informed that the three players kept the company of Mazhar Majeed despite being told to beware of him.
"The team management kept on telling the players that they should be careful but they did not listen and today because of them Pakistan cricket's image has taken a beating. I am really sad," he said.
Saeed said Pakistan cricket was known and revered for its exciting talent but the three players had damaged its image and reputation.
But former chief executive of the PCB, Arif Ali Abbasi blamed the board and Butt for the scandal.
"First and foremost, the PCB itself should have realised what was happening and withdrawn the players from the team. They delayed the matter not understanding its seriousness and the result today is Pakistan cricket's image has been tarnished," he said.
Image: Yawar Saeed
'I always suspected Asif of being involved'
Former Pakistan captain Asif Iqbal told a television channel that Butt and Asif wasted a lot of time and money of the court and should have been honest from the start.
"There was evidence against them and yet they kept on pleading innocence. They badly damaged Pakistan cricket," he said.
Veena Malik, the actor and model who was Asif's girlfriend until he got married last year, said the pacer had called her up a few days before the verdict and asked her to join him in London.
"But I told him that I have moved on in life and he should just focus on the trial and hope for the best. I feel bad for him and for the Pakistan cricket but there is nothing one can do in these circumstances. I always suspected him of being involved with the wrong people," said Malik.
Photograph: Rediff Archives
Image: Veena Malik