As expected, former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif have been found guilty of ‘conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments’. Another bowler, Mohammad Amir, admitted to these charges prior to the trial. All three plotted to deliberately bowl ‘no-balls’ during a test match against England last summer and now face the prospect of going to jail.
Before the trial, some folk made the mistake of trying to underplay the seriousness of these offences, basing their interpretation of events on an erroneous assumption that mere no-balls do not decide cricket matches.
It is clear, however, that if -during the course of a match- a player is motivated by the desire to do anything other than overcome his opponent, the outcome of the game has already been changed.
I can understand why folk might be tempted to believe, for example, that deliberately getting run out (or dropping a catch) is somehow worse than deliberately bowling the odd no ball. But that ignores the main point: you're either a cheat or you're not, in the same way that you are either 'pregnant' or 'not pregnant'.
Whether you are three weeks into a pregnancy or eight months into a pregnancy, you are still pregnant. Whether you deliberately drop a catch or deliberately bowl a no-ball, you're still a cheat. You have betrayed the spirit of the game and you should forfeit the right to be part of that game.