Ban ‘fixers’ for life: Warne, Fletcher

Melbourne: Australian spin legend Shane Warne and former England coach Duncan Fletcher have joined the growing clamour for life bans on Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir if they are found guilty of `spot-fxing`.

Pakistan`s Test skipper Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad are facing a Scotland Yard investigation over their alleged involvement in a betting scam "exposed" by a British tabloid`s sting operation.

Warne, who was himself fined for sharing information with a bookie in 1994, said if found guilty, the Pakistani players deserve nothing less then a life ban.

"If it is true and they have been found (guilty of) match-fixing and throwing games and spot betting with the no-balls and stuff, if that`s the case they should be thrown out," Warne was quoted as saying in media reports here.

"It`s as simple as that. I don`t think there should be any other way to do it. If it`s fixed by players, they should be banned for life. Anyone who`s involved should be thrown out," he said.

The former leg-spinner was a commentator during this January`s Australia-Pakistan Sydney Test which is suspected to have been fixed. Warne said he would not be surprised if it turns out that the match, in which Australia pulled off an unlikely 36-run win, was indeed rigged.

"They are only allegations at the moment so I suppose you have to say innocent until proven guilty," Warne said.

"But looking back at the (Sydney) Test match, if it was fixed, you could understand how it was fixed by the way they were captaining the side and their tactics. It would make sense -- if it was true," he added.

Former England coach Fletcher said if the Pakistani cricketers are found guilty, it would do irreparable damage to the game and the cricketing ties between England and Pakistan.

"We must remember that allegations of malpractice made against some of Pakistan`s players remain unproven. But if the allegations are true then Pakistan are guilty of a terrible lack of respect to the game and to English cricket," Fletcher wrote in his column.

"England have gone out of their way to help Pakistan cricket at a difficult time in their history. They have recognised the huge problems Pakistan cricket faces while they cannot stage matches in their own country because of the threat of terrorism. You would not think it was possible to squeeze any more cricket into an English summer, but somehow they did it. To read the allegations that are now being made is pretty hurtful," he added.

Fletcher said the scandal should not be taken lightly and the game`s administrators should be ruthless in dealing with the guilty.

"Treating cricket with disrespect is not a frivolous matter. There must be no distinction between a player found guilty of rigging an entire match and a player found guilty of deliberately bowling a no ball. We must be ruthless and put the fear of God into people. Even the smallest transgression must mean that a career is over," he said.


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