The prison sentence slapped on cricket's tainted trio -- Pakistan's Salman Butt (two and-a-half years), Mohammad Aamer (six months) and Mohammad Asif (one year) is a strong message to young cricketers: mess with the game and mess yourselves up.
All three were mighty talented. Apart from showing promise as a captain, Butt was a prolific scorer. Aamer was shaping to be the next Wasim Akram and Asif's swing could destroy the best of batting line-ups. Alas! However impoverished Pakistani cricketers are, and no matter how poor their backgrounds are, there is no excuse for tearing the very fabric of the sport to shreds and forcing fellow practitioners, fans and several stakeholders into despair. No team wants to tour Pakistan after the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009. The spot fixing controversy cannot help matters.
Rarely has the term 'Just Not Cricket' been so fit to utter. The game is followed the world over because of the nobility it brings to the turf, the grit, art and craft. Did messrs Butt, Aamer and Asif think about this while dealing with bookmaker Mazhar Majeed? Obviously not, because moolah filled their mind to such an extent that nothing else mattered.
The London authorities deserve a pat on the bat. Make that a couple more. They showed great alacrity, attitude and application to bring the guilty to book. In another set-up and country, the case might have lingered, giving the culprits more time to duck the bullet.
Sure, there will be appeals, but the London court has done what it was supposed to do. The jury played the game like a good Twenty20 slogger -- see the ball, hit the ball. Yes, cricket has been hit for a six, but one team is on course to victory. Steel bars await the losers.