Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, who are facing corruption charges, will have to wait until next month to learn their fate.
More waiting for Pakistan trio accused of spot-fixing
DOHA // The three Pakistan players facing corruption charges will have to wait a little longer to learn their fate.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) yesterday deferred a verdict on the allegations until next month.
A three-man tribunal leading a hearing since Thursday had been expected to make a ruling yesterday, but it said it wanted more time to consider the issues in regard to Salman Butt, the former captain, and the fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and 18-year-old Mohammad Aamer, who face life bans for alleged spot-fixing in one of cricket's worst scandals.
Michael Beloff, chief of the ICC's code of conduct commission and the head of the tribunal including Albie Sachs of South Africa and Sharad Rao of Kenya, said it was conscious of the importance of the hearing for the players and cricket.
"Representations have been made to reserve any decision on the remaining charges until it has had sufficient time to give the issue the most careful consideration and until it is able, at the same time as handing down its decision, to provide written reasons," he said. "This was not be feasible within the timetable agreed for this hearing in Doha."
Beloff added the tribunal would reconvene in Doha on February 5 when "its decisions will be handed down to the parties, and any consequential matters will be dealt with."
The players, he said, remain suspended from cricket.
Butt, Asif and Aamer, who have played 70 Tests among them since 2003, have repeatedly claimed their innocence.
They refused to comment as they left the office tower where the hearing was held.
However, an assistant to Butt's lawyer said: "On behalf of Salman Butt he would like to thank you all for support, well wishes and assistance that I've received over the last few months and in particular the last few days. ... At this current moment in time, we are not in a position to answer any questions."
In Pakistan, where the hearing has topped the news for most of the day, at least one former player was dismayed the trio would have to wait several more weeks to learn their fate.
"It's not fair for the players," Sarfraz Nawaz, the former Pakistan Test cricketer, said. "If the decision had to be deferred then the players should have been allowed to play international cricket. At the most, Beloff should have taken a day or two to reach the verdict. One month is too long."
Aamer said he was hoping for good news and thanked his supporters for their prayers after concluding his involvement.
"When the nation's prayers are with you, you don't feel so scared and there is hope," Aamer told Geo TV as he left the Qatar Financial Centre building where the hearing is being held.
"It's been difficult to sleep over the last few nights but my eyes are open now and when good news comes I will hopefully be able to close them properly.
"We are satisfied with how things have gone, and my family's prayers are also with me. I'm feeling good and am hoping for some good news."
Aamer is accused of taking bribes to bowl no-balls at arranged times during the Lord's Test.
Shahid Karim, his lawyer, said he hoped the tribunal members would take their time in reaching a decision - and he got his wish.
"We have requested the judges to look at the case carefully and properly and with due consideration before they announce the verdict," he said. "If they have looked at it with thought and consideration, then after we finish they'll tell us if the verdict is announced today or at a later date.
"I am satisfied that the hearing has been very good and impartial, and I can say from our point of view at least we are hopeful. The onus is now on the judges."
Meanwhile, Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach, said he was in a hurry to hear the verdict soon enough, so his team could focus on cricket for a change.
"I hope all goes well and I hope the outcome is what cricket requires. Hopefully things will settle after that and we can play controversy-free cricket for a while," Waqar said yesterday after a training session in Wellington. Pakistan are playing a two-Test series against New Zealand.
Waqar also confirmed he had given evidence to the independent anti-corruption tribunal.
* With agency