Alastair Cook, the England captain, believes that any player involved in match-fixing should be banned for life. However, he has no problem with the likelihood of facing Mohammad Amir again, because he served the punishment handed down to him.
Amir was given a 12-month jail sentence for his part in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal at Lord’s, of which he served six in a Young Offenders Institute, as well as a five-year ban from cricket which elapsed last year. He has since returned to Pakistan’s one-day and T20 sides and earlier this week was named in Pakistan’s Test squad for the England tour.
Subject to final confirmation of a visa being granted, he is set to return to the Test format on the ground where he committed the crime.
Cook was part of the England team involved in the 2010 Lord’s Test when Amir, along with Mohammad Asif and captain Salman Butt, were caught in the News of the World sting accepting money to bowl no-balls on demand.
“If you are caught match-fixing you should be banned for life,” Cook said ahead of the final Test against Sri Lanka. “The punishment should be that hard because we have to protect the integrity of the game.
“That’s not to say Amir shouldn’t come back, because the rules were different, but from my point of view the punishment should be harsh enough to deter people from doing it – but that’s if I had any say.
“Amir has served his time, he was punished for what he did and quite rightly so because we have to protect the integrity of the game, but I have no problems in playing against him at all.”
Cook stressed that it was vital the public could believe what they were watching. “We need to be playing a game of cricket that when things are happening it is because that was sport is,” he said. “There are 22 people, 24 if you include the umpires, doing it to the best of their ability. You don’t want something in the back of your mind saying that doesn’t feel right. That’s not what sport is about. It’s two teams trying their best to win and there aren’t any other motives. That’s what the public deserve.”
Stuart Broad, who struck his career-best 169 in the 2010 Test at Lord’s, has previously said that he would also have no issue facing Amir again although Cook added that the team had not collectively spoken about the situation.
The first Test against Pakistan at Lord’s begins on July 14.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.