Former England skipper Michael Vaughan has expressed his displeasure over the International Cricket Council's (ICC) decision not to ban three Pakistan players for life for their involvement in spot-fixing.
Vaughan said the punishments meted out to the tainted trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir showed that the sport's world governing body missed out on an opportunity to flush corruption out of the game.
"The punishments handed out to the three Pakistan cricketers over spot-fixing allegations were just another example of how the International Cricket Council operates. We were led to believe there was a zero-tolerance policy and that anyone found guilty of corruption would be banned for life.
"That was what Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, and others have repeatedly said since the scandal first broke, so I am very surprised they did not impose more severe punishments. This was an opportunity to set the ultimate deterrent. There was a stack of evidence. These cases are very hard to prove but having found the players guilty, the ICC were presented with the chance to take a stand," Vaughan wrote in his column in 'Daily Telegraph'.
An ICC Anti-Corruption tribunal had on Saturday banned former captain Butt for 10 years, with five years of suspended sentence, Asif for seven years with two years suspension and Amir for five years.
The tribunal, chaired by QC Michael Beloff, found the three Pakistani players guilty of charges relating to spot-fixing at the Lord's Test match between England and Pakistan in August last year.
Vaughan also disagreed with the ICC commissioner Sharad Rao's statement that said spot-fixing does not actually affect the result of the match at all.
"I am sorry but if you are bowling no-balls then you are changing the outcome of a game. It is affecting the course of the match. No matter how small the offence is, a Test match could be won or lost by a couple of runs so bowling a no-ball could be the difference," he said.
Vaughan, a veteran of 82 Tests and 86 ODIs, also added the bans would mean that Butt and Amir would return to international cricket considering their current age.
"Mohammad Asif may be a little bit too old and might not return but Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir will be back. They will probably play in the 2015 World Cup and it would not be a massive surprise to see Butt captaining Pakistan again.
"Amir is a young kid and many feel that giving him a life ban would have been too harsh, but I feel it is the only way to clear corruption out of the game. It is the best education," he said.