Karachi: The decision by the ICC to ban the tainted trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir after finding the three guilty of spot-fixing has invited strong reactions from the cricket fraternity in Pakistan with former players terming it a step towards cleaning the fixing menace from the game.
Many ex-cricketers, administrators and legal experts were of the view that the ICC's anti-corruption tribunal had no option but to act after charges against the trio were proved but there was definite sympathy for 18-year old Amir with many feeling the five-year ban on him was a bit harsh.
"It is a sad day for Pakistan cricket but I think in the long run it will help stabilise our cricket set up and also serve as a warning to players from other countries. The ICC must not rest with this one step to eradicate corruption and fixing menace and should be more vigilant and tighten their anti-corruption clauses," former Test captain Rashid Latif said.
"The bans on these players are not only a black day and shame for the Pakistan cricket but for the entire nation. If the players still believe they are innocent of the charges they should keep on fighting to overturn these bans and must appeal.
"But if these players are guilty then these bans will be a real lesson for our future generation of cricketers.
"In the case of Amir, I think he can still resume his cricket career after five years but as far as Asif and Butt are concerned their careers are finished," former captain Moin Khan said.
Former captain Zaheer Abbas said if the evidence was strong against the players, then the bans were justified.
"Because in my book no player is indispensable and can be replaced. Nothing is greater then the honour and name of the country.
"I was expecting these bans but it came as a surprise that their was no leniency also shown to Amir," Abbas said.
Former Test pacer Sarfaraz Nawaz backed the bans insisting the players knew what they were getting into when they indulged in corruption.
"No justification at all for allowing anyone to corrupt cricket."
Another former Test pacer Jalaluddin said he felt bad as image of the Pakistan cricket took a beating due to these bans.
"If these players were guilty of spot-fixing they deserved the punishments as it will serve as a deterrent to our future cricketers and they will know what their careers can become if they indulge in corruption," he said.
Former chief executive of the Pakistan board, Arif Abbasi also supported the ICC tribunal decision.
"Honestly speaking to me anyone who tries to play around with the sacred nature of this sport he deserves longer bans specially Salman Butt."
Former president of the ICC Ehsan Mani said that if Asif and Amir showed their best behavior in the next few years and didn't violate the ICC code again, they could resume their cricketing careers after five years.
"Amir can still make a comeback because he has age on his side but it is good for him to learn his lesson at this stage."
Mani also felt that Michael Beloff and the tribunal members wanted to show some leniency for Amir because of his age while deciding on the bans but the ICC code of conduct clauses and punishments didn't allow them to do so.
Former chairman of the Board Tauqir Zia said there was no question of doubting the sincerity of the tribunal members.
"I think they acted on the evidence given to them by the ICC which was incriminating. The tribunal members were unbiased and handled such a big case very well," he said.
Pakistan's well known legal expert and former law minister Aitzaz Ahsan, whose firm represented Salman Butt for a short period in the case, said if the banned Pakistan captain had listened to his advice things could have been different.
"I think they should now just focus on the criminal charges brought against them in the London court because if they don't appear in court on March 17 to contest the charges, there could be a one-sided decision against them which would mean the end of all cricket engagements for them," he added.
The chairman of the Pakistan board Ijaz Butt also made it clear that the board would not be interfering in the matter nor challenging the bans.
"The PCB has no jurisdiction to challenge the bans as this is a matter between the ICC and the players," Butt said.
Pakistan's chief selector Mohsin Khan admitted it was a black day for Pakistan cricket but something that was bound to happen.
"As a former cricketer I just feel that if the evidence was strong against any player of wrong doing he must not be spared. For Pakistan cricket the loss of these players is being felt but the good thing is the back-up talent in Pakistan cricket is immense and is showing up well," Mohsin said.