Sports Integrity Initiative: Salman Butt hopes confession will accelerate return to cricket

The former Pakistan cricket captain, Salman Butt, has signed a written statement specifically confessing to spot-fixing. In the statement, which was published by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Butt admits that he was ‘guilty of breaching the International Cricket Council (ICC) Anti-Corruption Code in the manner found by the Anti-Corruption Tribunal’ and admits specifically to being a ‘party to the bowling of two deliberate no balls in the Lord’s test match.’

In February 2011, Salman Butt and his two Pakistani team-mates, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, were convicted for their roles in spot-fixing during the England vs. Pakistan Lord’s Test in August 2010. In that ruling, the independent tribunal chaired by Michael Beloff QC, decided that Butt had breached the ICC Anti Corruption Code and banned him from all forms of cricket for five years. Butt, which the ICC said had orchestrated the plot to deliberately bowl no-balls, was also handed a further five-year suspended sentence.

Butt, who unlike the young fast bowler Mohammad Amir, did not plead guilty at the 2011 trial and the PCB refused to support Butt in any attempt to return to cricket, citing their dissatisfaction with both Butt and Asif over their lack of genuine remorse. According to The Times, when Butt spoke about his role in the scandal in June 2013, the PCB rejected those comments as a ‘general confession’.

Following the revision of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Code in November 2014, Article 6.8 allows the Anti-Corruption and Safety Unit (ACSU) Chairman to permit a banned player to return to domestic cricket, with the prior approval of his national association. On the implementation of the revised Code, the PCB moved swiftly to support Mohammad Amir, the young fast bowler, in his bid to return to domestic cricket. The ACSU promptly allowed Amir, who unlike either Asif or Butt pleaded guilty at the 2011 trial, to return to club cricket in advance of his five-year international suspension expiring on 2 September 2015.

The PCB remained unsupportive of Butt due to his reluctance to accept his conviction or cooperate with the PCB. However in February earlier this year, local media reported that Butt had for the first time admitted his role in the spot-fixing, expressing a ‘complete regret and a willingness to cooperate totally with the ICC’. In April, Butt gave his first television interview with ITV since being released from jail for spot-fixing, expressing his remorse for his actions and his keenness for others to learn from his fall from grace. After Butt’s interview, it was reported that the PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan had said that Butt had appeared to have ‘learnt his lesson’ and signalled that the PCB would support Butt in his appeal to have his five-year suspended sentence reviewed by the ICC’s ACSU.

The written statement of confession signed by Butt and published by the PCB is the next step Butt’s attempt to have his suspended sentence reviewed and return to playing cricket. According to the AFP, the PCB chairman said that Butt had previously ‘not specifically confessed to spot-fixing’ but that the PCB had issued him with a statement to sign, which he duly did, and in which he ‘specifically confessed to spot-fixing’. Khan told AFP that the statement has been forwarded to the ACSU of the ICC.

The Times reported Butt as saying that he had ‘signed a confession letter’ because he wanted to return to domestic cricket, claiming that he had had ‘offers from a few teams to play the forthcoming season.’ The newspaper also reported that Butt had confirmed that he was also keen to return to international cricket, saying ‘Why not? If my form and fitness impress selectors then I look forward to playing international cricket.’

• This article was originally published in the Sports Integrity Initiative internet journal on 19 June 2015. To access the original, please click here.

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