After over five months of anxiety and suspense caused to the millions of cricket lovers and the mental torture suffered by the 'tainted trio the International Cricket Council (ICC) tribunal awarded its final verdict. The key leader of the sordid spot fixing episode Salman Butt was banned for ten years, Muhammad Asif for seven years and young Muhammad Aamir for five years. It is however surprising that while the punishment over and above five years in respect of Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif could be suspended if the two players commit no further breach of discipline but no such concession is available to Muhammad Aamir. Looking at the nature of offence the ban imposed appears to be rather too heavy. The lawmakers at the ICC were never so harsh in the past. The players confession of having deliberately bowled 'no balls proved their involvement in a spot fixing betting scam providing ICC the chance to declare that the players were banned on solid proof of corruption. The world cricket body believes that with this decision the image of the game will improve. As for the severity of punishment the ICC feels that the case was tried by a jury of experts which awarded the punishments keeping in view the difference between match fixing and spot fixing and to protect the integrity of the game. As for the public reaction, though certain quarters feel sorry for the careers of players, the cricket fraternity as well as the general public favored the punishment emphasizing that it would serve as a deterrent for the future cases of corruption and breach of discipline. Regarding the loss to Pakistans cricket, there is so much of talent in the country that if the newcomers are groomed and coached properly to join the national team, the absence of the 'tainted trio will not be felt. I personally feel that if these players are included in the Pakistan team at any stage, our team will not get due respect in the international arena. Discussing the individual players, Muhammad Asif is a habitual offender. In a previous incident he was caught at the Dubai Airport carrying drugs and awarded life ban for entering the UAE. As for Salman Butt, in a television interview he claimed that the PCB owed him Rs. 8.6 million. With so much of legitimate earnings from cricket he should not have succumbed to such an evil especially when he enjoyed the honor of leading the team. These two must be shunted out of the team. As for young Muhammad Aamir the whole nation has sympathy with him. He can appeal against the punishment and live with what he finally gets. RAFI NASIM, Lahore, February 10.