The Pakistan players convicted of spot-fixing today offered emotional pleas to be spared jail, – claiming they have already lost everything in life.
Lawyers for Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir argued in mitigation of their offences before the judge sentences them tomorrow (November 3).
Butt, the former captain, admitted his career was over and that he had gone from being a “national hero to a figure of contempt, whose ignominy is complete”.
The player wept in the dock when the court heard he had let down those closest to him.
Ali Bajwa, representing Butt, asked for “any possible alternative to prison” and read out the player’s direct words in a letter to the judge: “Please do not make my family suffer any more”.
It emerged that only an hour after Butt’s wife had given birth to their second child in Pakistan yesterday, he had to make “the most difficult call in his life”, phoning home to tell her that he had been found guilty and faced jail.
Mr Bajwa admitted that as captain Butt had to take a “degree of greater responsibility”, but insisted he did not put pressure on others. He claimed that Amir was “perfectly capable” of organising his own fixing and did not need “encouragement” or “pressure” to do so.
Meanwhile Alexander Milne, representing Asif, said that a single fixed no ball had ended the career of the number two ranked bowler in the world.
Like Butt, he said Asif’s life was in “utter ruin”.
“He is jobless, in debt, convicted and the subject of complete ignominy, disgrace and humiliation,” the court heard.
Mr Milne admitted that the offences crossed the threshold for a jail term, but asked what it would achieve. The lawyer said the bowler had already been punished by the disgrace and the ICC ban which ended career and left him a “broken man”.
Amir made an emotional statement of remorse, in which he admitted: “I don’t know if cricket will ever want me again”.
After reading the statement to the court, Henry Blaxland, QC, said: “The world of Pakistan cricket had plainly become corrupted. Young players were vulnerable to being approached.”
Amir was also backed by Imran Khan, the politician and former captain, who provided a reference for “one of the biggest talents to emerge in world cricket for a long time”.
Khan said that credit was deserved for his admission of guilt, saying it was “virtually unprecedented” for a player to confess – and compared it to his teammates response.
The court heard that Amir was first tapped up by a bookmaker in Dubai, culminating in texts sent to him before the Oval asking him to fix a bowling bracket. But Mr Blaxland said that Amir cut off contact as soon as he realised he was a fixer.
The judge had earlier questioned Amir’s basis of plea, which said his guilt was isolated to the Lord’s Test and the bowling of no balls.
Mazhar Majeed, the agent at the centre of the conspiracy, made a series of extraordinary claims about the players, but said he had also expressed “shame and regret” for his actions and admitted that he had “betrayed” the game.
Follow RDJ Edwards in court on Twitter – @Cricketer_RDJ