KARACHI — The head of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Monday said lengthy bans given to three Pakistani players for spot-fixing were "regrettable" but promised to help them in their rehabilitation.
An International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-corruption tribunal on Saturday banned former Pakistan captain Salman Butt for ten years, Mohammad Asif for seven years and Mohammad Aamer for five years after a hearing in Doha.
The charges against them related to alleged incidents during the Test against England at Lord's last year, when Britain's News of the World newspaper claimed the players were willing to deliberately bowl no-balls.
The newspaper alleged the three had colluded in a spot-fixing betting scam organised by British-based agent Mazhar Majeed.
"PCB terms the verdict against the three players as regrettable and a sad reality which must be faced," PCB chairman Ijaz Butt said in a statement.
Butt said the PCB had "full confidence" in the investigation and tribunal, but admitted the spot-fixing episode had been a gruelling time for Pakistani cricket.
"The time since August last year, when the spot-fixing case came to light, has been an extremely painful one for Pakistan cricket. I now hope that this unfortunate saga is put to rest and we can concentrate on cricket," Butt said.
"We will continue to work with ICC on this sensitive matter in future also. We will also see how we can help the three players with their education and rehabilitation programme."
Butt said the PCB was determined to root out corruption, which has dogged cricket in Pakistan in the past.
"The PCB is determined to ensure the threat of corruption is dealt with severely and will do everything in its power to ensure the integrity of cricket is protected," he said.
"Like all my colleagues in the ICC, I am determined to maintain the integrity of our sport. This is fundamental."
Since the spot-fixing scandal, the PCB has taken important steps, including the introduction of a corruption code in domestic cricket, he said.
The PCB had formed an integrity committee to check players and held lectures to create awareness against corruption and these steps were praised by the ICC, Butt said.
On Friday British prosecutors charged the three players as well as Majeed with corruption offences and summoned them to appear in a London court on March 17.
Salman and Aamer have indicated they wish to appeal against the ICC tribunal's verdict, but Asif till now has given no reaction.
The players have 21 days to appeal against the sanctions at the Court of Arbitration for Sports, based in Switzerland.