Wellington:Suspended Pakistani trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir should be banned if found guilty of spot-fixing, according to New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori who said such an extreme step was required to defend the 'spirit of the game'.
Vettori gave his first public comment on the controversy involving Pakistan cricket players, telling the 'Sunday Star-Times' that Kiwi cricket lovers have every right to question New Zealand's recent wins over Pakistan.
"It will be pretty sad for cricket if all the allegations are proven because the last thing anyone wants is for supporters to start thinking there's no point in watching because the results are already decided," Vettori said.
"The greatest result would obviously be that it was all untrue. But if not, if a clean-up can come from it, then hopefully it will make cricket as squeaky clean as it possibly can be.
"My personal view is that if you're caught, you have to be banned for life. That's the only way that you are going to stamp it out and if these allegations are proven to be true then there has to be a precedent set," Vettori added.
Pakistan cricket was rocked with more revelation today as the British tabloid 'News of the World' came out with a new sting on Pakistan opener Yasir Hameed who claimed that his teammates were involved in fixing "almost every match".
The British tabloid had last weekend disclosed that Pakistan skipper Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were allegedly involved in spot-fixing in last week's fourth test against England at the Lord's.
Vettori said any punishments should be meted out only to individuals found guilty and not the whole nation.
"It has to be taken on an individual case-by-case basis. The last thing we want to do is punish people who are innocent. There has to be the biggest deterrent possible given to match-fixing because if it's just a six-month or one-year ban then it doesn't mean anything," he said.
The ICC is looking into 82 matches involving Pakistan in the last two and a half years as they investigate alleged irregularities. Eleven of those games involve New Zealand -four one-dayers, four T20s and three Tests.
Late last year, Pakistan toured New Zealand for three tests, with both sides winning one and drawing the other. "I think we were pretty comfortable with that series here," Vettori said.
"But I can certainly understand why people will start to speculate about those matches in light of the recent information. People now have every right to question results and question what went on," he added.