NEW YORK - The sentences imposed on three Pakistani cricketers and their agent hit the headlines in the United States where cricket is not a popular sport, with the media underscoring that they brought the game into dispute. Most newspapers on Friday carried agency reports on the verdict given by judge Jeremy Cooke, highlighting his remarks addressed to Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Amir about the insidious effect of your actions on the international game. But The New York Times - a long-time critic of Pakistan on issues related to the country's record on human rights, its nuclear programme and its role in the war on terrorism - went beyond the damage done to the sport by the disgraced cricketers. In a dispatch from London, a senior correspondent of the Times, remarked, "For many of the nations 170 million people, cricket has been a source of pride in a society plagued by a history of military coups and political corruption. Pakistan has also been accused by the United States of conniving with the Taliban in mounting suicide bombings." He wrote, "The trial, which rocked the cricket world, centred on a sting operation conducted by the now-defunct News of the World newspaper during Pakistans tour of England in summer 2010. It followed years of suspicions that powerful gambling syndicates based on the Indian subcontinent were bribing players to fix parts of high-profile matches, or even to throw them entirely. Much of the concern has focused on Pakistans national team, but a special corruption unit of the International Cricket Council, the Dubai-based governing body of the world game, has been investigating the possibility that other teams have been involved in similar scandals. Cricket experts have said corruption has the capacity to destroy the game unless policing is expanded, perhaps to the extent of posting officials from the unit, which includes former police officers, at all top international matches."