Karachi: Former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar feels that Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammed Amir were given harsh punishments in the spot-fixing scandal.
In his first interview on a Pakistani channel since his retirement after the 2011 World Cup, Akhtar said he still felt for the three players and their families.
"I thought the jail term were too harsh in context of their crimes. In England, even a murderer is out on bail. I thought after imposing ban on them, the jail sentences were very harsh," Akhtar said.
The controversial speedster who was touring with the national team for the ODI series that followed immediately after the spot-fixing scandal broke out on the 2010 tour to England said he had witnessed up close the image of Pakistan cricket take a beating.
"I don't know but after they were banned, the ICC virtually ended their careers. After that it would have been better if the court had imposed fines and sentenced them to some social work instead of sending them behind bars."
Akhtar said it didn't help the image of cricket to have their international players in jail.
"What happened was very bad for Pakistan cricket. Even now I don't want to think about it, but I feel for the families of these players. I even went to meet them."
Akhtar also made it clear that he considered the tenure of former PCB chairman Ijaz Butt as the worst he had seen in Pakistan cricket.
"Was it good to see some of our top players being asked to or forced to appear in courts. Was it good to see Shahid Afridi appearing in court. Such things really harmed Pakistan cricket."
He pointed out that it was a bad time for Pakistan cricket because players were not given the respect they deserved from the board in Butt's tenure.
"You had some lawyer with a inferiority complex deciding on our fates. It was awful," he said.