London: The spot-fixing case hearing against tainted Pakistani trio- Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir- began in Doha on Thursday amid signs of a widening rift between the accused players and their national board.
As the trio appeared for the first day of the five-day hearing by an Anti-Corruption Tribunal, it emerged that their’ lawyers had objected to the Pakistan Cricket Board attending the sessions as observers, a newspaper reported.
The players’ move to block the PCB from attending is further evidence that the Pakistan authorities have withdrawn their support from the accused trio, who face life bans if found guilty of corruption charges, it added.
The case is a huge test of the ICC’s abilities as a regulator, said the report, adding that it represented the first time the cricket governing body had prosecuted a corruption case against international players.
This is “a very important hearing for the future of cricket”, acknowledged Barrister Sharad Rao of Kenya, a member of the three-man tribunal chaired by British QC Michael Beloff.
The trio have been charged with a number of breaches of the ICC anti-corruption code arising from the Lord’s Test against England last year, in which they were alleged to have conspired to bowl no-balls on the orders of alleged bookie Mazhar Majeed, who is also Butt’s agent.
Amir’s lawyer, Shahid Karim, suggested he might argue that his client was ordered to bowl the no-balls by Butt, the then Pakistan Test captain.
“There are many perspectives which we feel are our in our favour and we will use that to our advantage. He [Amir] is very important to the future of Pakistan and the response we have gotten from people so far, I am very hopeful. I am hopeful,” Karim added.