Willis: Jail a deterrent

Willis: Prison terms for trio would send powerful message

Last Updated: 02/11/11 8:12am

Willis: Custodial terms would set a precedent

Bob Willis believes a prison sentence for any of the Pakistan cricketers guilty of conspiring to fix part of last year's Lord's Test with England would "reverberate around the world".

"One doesn't quite know the pressure that these young people are put under. "

Bob Willis

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The former England captain said custodial terms would act as a deterrent to anyone tempted to get involved in spot-fixing in the future.

Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif were found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments at Southwark Crown Court.

Teenage bowler Mohammad Amir admitted both charges before the trial. The trio will be sentenced later this week.

Willis told Sky Sports News HD: "The only positive aspect is it looks as though a custodial sentence will be handed out. There can't be any stronger message than that.

"We've had life bans, but we haven't really had players sent to prison before. For the first time we may see custodial sentences.

"There's one thing being fined, there's another thing being banned from the game for a period of time. A lot of these so-called life bans were rescinded, people were back playing in the space of two or three years.

"I think a prison sentence would reverberate around the world and I think the first thing that would happen is there would be far less likelihood of any corruption or fixing of a match taking place in the UK because this is a precedent that's been set down in this country.

Spider's web

"It hasn't happened anywhere else yet but it's certainly a warning signal going right through the world of cricket."

The allegations centred around a plot to bowl deliberate no-balls in the Lord's Test, which took place in August last year, as part of a lucrative betting scam.

Willis admitted it could be quite easy to get sucked into, particularly on the sub-continent.

He said: "I don't think we understand that much in this country about the betting systems in South East Asia and the illegal betting in the sub-continent.

"We can't fathom the sums of money involved and it must still be tempting - despite all these life bans and a possible custodial sentence in this instance - to get involved in match or, more likely, spot-fixing because they are coerced into it and once they are in that spider's web it's very difficult to crawl out.

"One doesn't quite know the pressure that these young people are put under when they're first introduced.

"Mr A introduces Mr B and there's an innocent cricketer maybe having a drink in a bar or a coffee in town somewhere.

"And all of a sudden, these little thoughts - we go back to Mark Waugh and Shane Warne all those years ago.

'All we want to know is a weather forecast' and they start saying 'It's not raining at the ground' and then the questions get more detailed.

"'Do you think you'll bat or bowl if you win the toss?' and on it goes and people get hooked in.

"The problem I think, particularly with Pakistan, is that relative to most other cricketers around the world, the players aren't very highly paid.

"The Indian players now, particularly with the IPL added into the equation, most of them are millionaires. Not many Pakistan cricketers are multi-millionaires."