News 18 April 2015

Pakistan Cricket Board Signals Intent to Support Butt

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has signalled that it will support former Pakistan cricket captain, Salman Butt, in his appeal to have his suspended sentence reviewed by the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU). In February 2011, Salman Butt and his two Pakistani team-mates, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, were convicted for their roles in spot-fixing during the England vs. Pakistan Lord’s Test in August 2010.

In that ruling, the independent tribunal chaired by Michael Beloff QC, decided that Butt had breached the ICC Anti Corruption Code and banned him from all forms of cricket for five years. Butt, which the ICC said had orchestrated the plot to deliberately bowl no-balls, was also handed a further five-year suspended sentence.

“In our recent communication with him, Butt appears to have learnt his lesson and his admission of guilt is in line with the ICC protocol on rehabilitation of ‘corrupt’ players”, said PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan in a recent interview, reported local media. “In Salman Butt’s case, after his five-year ban ends also in September, there is the matter of the five-year suspended sentence passed by the ICC tribunal. It is up to the ICC anti-corruption unit and tribunal whether Butt has to serve the suspended sentence or if he is allowed to resume playing cricket after his existing ban ends in September.”

Following the revision of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Code in November 2014, Article 6.8 allows the ACSU Chairman to permit a banned player to return to domestic cricket, with the prior approval of his national association. On the implementation of the revised Code, the PCB moved swiftly to support Mohammad Amir, the young fast bowler, in his bid to return to domestic cricket. The ACSU promptly allowed Amir, who unlike either Asif or Butt pleaded guilty at the 2011 trial, to return to domestic club cricket in advance of his five-year international suspension expiring on 2 September 2015.

At the time, the PCB’s Khan firmly ruled out supporting either Butt or Asif’s case, voicing his dissatisfaction with both him and Asif over their lack of genuine remorse. However in February earlier this year, local media reported that Butt had for the first time admitted his role in the spot-fixing, expressing a “complete regret and a willingness to cooperate totally with the ICC”. Earlier this week, Butt gave his first television interview with ITV since being released from jail for spot-fixing, expressing his remorse for his actions and his keenness for others to learn from his fall from grace.

It is understood that these recent actions, alongside the delivery of a series of talks to young cricketers and his willingness to cooperate with the ICC’s protocol on rehabilitation of corrupt players, has persuaded Khan and the PCB that Butt has reasonable grounds to argue against the implementation of the suspended sentence imposed by the tribunal. The tribunal imposed the suspended sentence on condition that ‘he participates, starting as soon as possible, in programmes of public education and rehabilitation under the auspices of the PCB’.

However, it is unlikely that Butt will be able to return to any form of cricket before the end of his initial five-year ban in September this year, due to his reluctance to accept his conviction or cooperate with the PCB until recently. In the interview, it is reported that the PCB’s Khan said that Butt “is a changed man and just wants another chance to prove he has learnt his lesson”.

The interview with the PCB’s Khan took place on the day that the ICC held its second quarterly meeting of the year in Dubai. At the meeting, the ICC Board decided to write to the Sports Minister of Sri Lanka, seeking an explanation for its decision to appoint an Interim Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) by the Government of Sri Lanka. The Board decided that this may breach the ICC’s Constitution, which requires free and fair elections for office bearers within Member boards.

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