London: Legendary cricketer Imran Khan is "upset" by the suspensions of three Pakistani cricketers involved in spot-fixing but says they were necessary for the future of the sport.
An International Cricket Council (ICC) tribunal banned former Pakistan captain Salman Butt for 10 years, with five years suspended, bowler Mohammad Asif for seven years, with two suspended and teenage paceman Mohammad Aamer for five years.
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The trio were charged for spot-fixing in the fourth Test against England at Lord's last August after an expose by British newspaper News of the World newspaper.
"I am genuinely upset over the bans on three key, young and talented players," Khan was quoted as saying in abc sport.
"But once the players were proven guilty a punishment has to be given for the sake of cricket in general and for the sake of Pakistan cricket in particular."
Khan said the tainted trio would have been an asset to Pakistan in the upcoming World Cup.
"I feel sad for Aamer, who is probably the best young fast bowler in the world at the moment and had a long way to go," he said.
"Asif is one of the best new ball bowlers and Butt is a solid opener, so with these three key players Pakistan would have done very well in the World Cup, but that is not to be."
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According to ICC, the start of the bans would be backdated to September 2 to include the period of provisional suspension already served by the players
The players also face criminal charges and have been scheduled to appear in a UK court next month.