Prison sentence to Pak spot-fixing players 'hit me like a brick wall': Swann

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 14, 2011 09:44 hrs

England off-spinner Graeme Swann believed that the 2010 Lord's Test spot-fixing controversy was just a cricketing matter until London's Southwark Crown Court handed down custodial sentences to three Pakistan cricketers earlier this month.

"Until then I freely admit I was in a bit of a fantasy world. I thought the trial was about the judge banning them from playing cricket. But then they were sent to prison and I thought, 'Christ, I didn't see that coming'. It honestly hit me like a brick wall," the Independent quoted Swann, as saying.

"As a sportsman, I live in a sheltered bubble. I think everything either has a direct correlation to my world or it doesn't matter. I didn't realize that what was happening mattered enough to be a criminal offence," he added.

When asked if former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir deserved to go to jail, Swann said: "I honestly don't know. I'm out of my depth. I'll stick by what I said in the book, which is that I don't think they should ever play cricket again, and I don't buy the theory that an 18-year-old should have more leniency than a 28-year-old. But are custodial sentences right or wrong? I don't know."

The off-spinner also said that he disliked Butt even before he was exposed as a spot-fixing cheat.

"I don't like Salman Butt. There are some people you can't stand the sight of, and he's one of them. But that's not because I thought he was corrupt. I have some sympathy for them because like me they lived in a bubble. Our world has stepped into the real world, which are steps no cricketer is happy to take. To be honest, it's a bit frightening," Swann said.

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