Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen says that spot-fixers should never be given a second chance.
In his column in the Daily Telegraph, Pietersen, England’s highest run-scorer across all the formats, is firm in his stance that spot-fixers, match-fixers and drug-takers should be removed from sport for life.
With Pakistan beginning their Test series on Thursday for the first time in England since the infamous spot-fixing allegations involving Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif at Lord’s in 2010, Pietersen opened up old wounds by saying, in other words, that Amir should not be involved.
‘They have broken the rules, should pay the price and not be given a second chance,’ he wrote. ‘If you cheat the system, either by taking drugs or money to under-perform, then you are mugging the spectators, your team-mates and a sport that has been around a lot longer than you.
‘People always deserve a second chance in life but sport is different. We are paid to play a sport we love and are damn lucky to lead the life of a professional cricketer. To try to gain an advantage by taking drugs or devaluing your sport by being bribed is breaking the 11th and 12th commandments. There can be no way back.’
Amir was just 18 when the incident occurred, and will be playing his first Test since, six years later. Butt was the captain at the time and Asif was 27 – older and with far more experience and influence. Despite this, Pietersen believes Amir would have been equipped to have avoided the scandal.
‘In cricket the education players receive is so thorough. It is drilled into you. I know that for an hour before every T20 tournament I play in that I will be given an anti-corruption lecture. I have sat through so many that I could probably give my own lecture, so ignorance of the rules is no defence.’
England won that match at Lord’s by an innings and won the series 3-1, and Amir was in fact named Man of the Series. The whole contest, however, was overshadowed.
‘That day we learned about the spot fix at Lord’s in 2010, when it emerged that Amir and Mohammad Asif had deliberately bowled no balls in exchange for money and in collusion with their captain Salman Butt, was horrible. The story broke on the Saturday night and we all felt sick on the final day of the game.
‘The guys did not shake hands at the end of the Test. We felt empty when we took the wickets to win the match and did not celebrate. I remember taking a catch at mid on and I just threw the ball back to Graeme Swann who was bowling. It was just an awful morning. The relationship between the two teams was fractured because we all knew the damage it would do to cricket.
‘That can be summed up by the fact we are still talking about it six years later. It was hard to be in the dressing room.
‘The result is cynicism. If anyone bowls a massive no ball or a wide first ball of a spell then people start to wonder, which is wrong because people just make mistakes on a cricket field.’
He expects a hostile reception for Amir, but he also expects a similarly hostile performance with the ball from the left-armer.
‘Pakistan will want to come here and make a statement given the last tour was such a disaster. They are a proud nation. They love their cricket and the sport is watched by millions in Pakistan. I know the Pakistan players want to put on a great show for their fans at home.
‘Amir is just as quick, and as competitive as ever. He is in your face and it is very hard to get on top of him.’
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