Amir, Butt and Asif...all guilty or was there a ringleader?
Mike Atherton is a world renowned cricket writer and enjoys a deserved reputation. However I think that reputation was somewhat sullied by his strange and almost insulting interview of Mohammed Amir recently of Feltham Young Offenders Institute.
As someone who has spent the last 15 years investigating all sorts of conspiracies to defraud I have heard every excuse in the book. The favourite is the Amir excuse of being somehow duped into their particular treacherous action and on capture exclaiming "now I look back on it I can see it was all a big fraud, but at the time....". Amir aided by Atherton who a friend described as grinning like a cheshire cat throughout, proceeded with such a tale of "I am guilty but..".
Athers...Cheshire or Lancastrian cat?
He then explained how his he had been manipulated by Salman Butt and Mazhar Majid into bowling those 2 now infamous no balls. Incidentally he was so far over the line it took me back to almost being decapitated by various bowlers slinging down beamers from 18 yards a pre-season nets! Back to the point, in between the bull and further grinning by our Lancastrian friend he coughed to the fact that well before the Lords test he had been texting and calling the shadowy svengali, Ali about what it would cost to fix a match and when asked by the self same Ali for his bank details he sent them, but of course didn't know why? We then get the story of the clandestine meet in the hotel car park and to complete this sorry tale, when the cops turn up not only was 1500 of the spoils in his safe but he texts Ali instructing him to delete the incriminating evidence. For any experienced investigator such an evidential trail is frankly a delight, but even then the subject of Athers affections pleads his innocence at the ICC tribunal before finally pleading guilty at the pre crown court trial. A clearer conspiracy is rarely seen yet Sky and Atherton expect us to sympathise and start some sort of campaign to mitigate his, some would say too short, 5 year ban from cricket.
Oh and of course Athertons defence of Amir has nothing to do with the fact that the young mans defence barrister, the well known and excellent Henry Blaxland QC (who I have had the pleasure of receiving a few professional bouncers from), read an earlier bleeding heart Atherton piece in mitigation at the sentencing hearing. Another mere coincidence?
In summary, my informed opinion is that the former England captains defence of Amir was about as effective as his Gray Nicholls power spot was when Curtley Ambrose tore in, during the infamous 46 all out debacle in Trinidad.