Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif and agent Mazhar Majeed were all jailed on Thursday in Britain for their role in fixing parts of a Test match against England.
Cricket agent Majeed, 36, from Croydon in south London, was handed the harshest penalty with a sentence of two years and eight months by Judge Jeremy Cooke at London´s Southwark Crown Court.
Pakistan former Test captain Salman Butt, 27, received 30 months, fastbowler Mohammad Asif, 28, received one year in jail and 19-year-old Mohammad Aamer was jailed for six months.
“These offences, regardless of pleas, are so serious that only a sentence of imprisonment will suffice,” Cooke told the four in court.
He added: “Each of you will serve half the time imposed in custody and then be released on licence.”
As he was led from the dock, Butt looked distant and aghast. Aamer showed little reaction as he collected his rucksack, while Asif nodded to a friend in the public gallery before being the last to disappear down to the cells.
Butt and Asif were found guilty on Tuesday of deliberately bowling three no-balls during the Lord´s Test in August 2010 as part of a “spot-fixing” betting scam uncovered by Rupert Murdoch´s now-defunct News of the World.
Aamer and Majeed had already pleaded guilty to involvement in the scam.
The judge said the players had once been regarded as heroes but had betrayed their followers in Pakistan.
“In Pakistan, where cricket is the national sport, the ordinary follower of the national team feels betrayed by your activities,” he said.
“You, Butt, Asif and Amer have let down all your supporters and followers of the game.”
The international game had also been tarnished by the scandal, he added.
“Now, whenever people look back on a surprising event in a game or a surprising result or whenever, in the future, there are surprising events or results, followers of the game who paid good money… will be led to wonder whether there has been a fix,” the judge said.
“What was to be honest, sporting competition may not be such at all.”