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Cricket
Banned cricketers plead innocence
Suspended Pakistan captain Salman Butt and 18-year-old bowler Mohammad Amir arrive home and say they will appeal bans.
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2011 10:11 GMT
A fan kisses Amir as he leaves the tribunal in Doha having been handed a five-year ban from cricket [Reuters]

Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir vowed to clear their names after being banned from cricket for at least five years.

The former Pakistan Test captain and the country's most promising fast bowler flew back to Karachi on Sunday after an International Cricket Council (ICC) tribunal in Doha found them and teammate Mohammad Asif guilty of corruption charges.
 
Butt, who captained the side in the Lord's Test against England in which the allegations emerged, was banned for 10 years with five of them suspended - if the 26-year-old does not re-offend and takes part in a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) anti-corruption campaign.

Asif, 28, was banned for seven years with two suspended under the same terms as Butt, while 18-year-old Amir was given a straight five-year ban.


Al Jazeera's Rahul Pathak reports from the ICC tribunal

Only Amir, whose lawyer said he would appeal Saturday's decision, has any realistic chance of playing international cricket again.

Five-year bans were the minimum an independent three-man tribunal could impose under the ICC's anti-corruption code once it had concluded that Butt, Asif and Amir were guilty of spot-fixing in the fourth Test against England last August.

Butt and Amir encountered no hostile reception when they exited the airport in Karachi and both maintained their innocence.

"I am innocent of the charges made against me and I stand by what I say. I will not rest until I get the ban overturned," Butt told reporters at the airport.

"I don't think our arguments were heard properly and the ban is unjustified."

Amir expressed similar concerns with the hearing. 

"I am innocent and I was confident they would clear me. The ban came as a total shock," he said.

"We are waiting for the ICC to release the detailed judgement of the tribunal after which we will decide what to do but we have made up our minds to appeal the ban in the first instance."

Lengthy

Butt said he wanted to see the judgement to find out on what grounds the tribunal had handed down such lengthy bans.
 
"We will appeal the ban once we get the judgement and study it. But we definitely want to clear our names from this ban," he said.

Speaking outside the hearing at Qatar Financial Centre in Doha on Saturday, Al Jazeera's Rahul Pathak said: "There's a real feeling here that the punishment handed down by Michael Beloff, QC, and his two colleagues could have been a lot more harsh.

"The next big date for the players in March 17 when they'll appear before Westminster Magistrates in London, where they'll be accused of accepting and obtaining corrupt payments. That carries a maximum jail term of seven years – an extremely serious charge."

The original allegations emerged during the fourth Test between England and Pakistan at Lord's in August last year, when the News of the World newspaper published evidence that the three had conspired to bowl deliberate no-balls for the benefit of spot-fixing markets.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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