Spot-fixing controversy February 3, 2012

PCB chairman wants Amir return

PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf has said that Mohammad Amir, the Pakistan fast bowler who was released from custody in the UK on Wednesday, will be welcomed back to the national team once he has served his ICC ban. Ashraf added that Amir would be given financial support while undergoing rehabilitation.

The 19-year-old Amir was released from Portland Young Offenders Institution in Dorset after serving half of a six-month sentence for his part in a spot-fixing scam. He is currently in London where he will meet his lawyers to draw up an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the five-year ban imposed on him by the ICC for the same offence.

"Once he serves the ban, then he could come into the team," Ashraf said. "He is a young Pakistani, he committed a mistake and it was a case of a huge talent lost.

"We will have to see how his appeal goes in the CAS. After serving the ban he can come back in the team, but the final decision will be down to the selectors who will judge his fitness.

"I want to see Amir back, but only after considering the legality of the case and only after he serves the ban. We can do the rehab programme while he is serving his ban. We can do the rehab programme and also use him in lectures to other players so that he can be financially helped."

An ICC tribunal banned Amir for five years in February 2011. His team-mate Mohammad Asif was given a seven-year ban - with two years suspended - and the former Pakistan captain Salman Butt was banned for ten years, five suspended. Shortly after the decision Amir announced his intention to appeal the decision to the CAS, an arbitration body set up to settle legal disputes relating to sport.

Amir and his two team-mates were give custodial sentences in November 2011 after being convicted at Southwark Crown Court of conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat at gambling. A plot to bowl deliberate no-balls in a Test against England in 2010 was uncovered in a News of the World sting operation. Amir and Butt lost an appeal against the sentence in November in the Court of Appeal in London.

The judge, Mr Justice Cooke, ruled at Southwark Crown Court that the affair was "so serious that only imprisonment will suffice". Butt was sentenced to two-and-a-half years, Asif was jailed for one year, and Amir for six months. Mazhar Majeed, the players' agent, received a sentence of two years eight months. Majeed had boasted to undercover reporters that he could arrange for Pakistan cricketers to rig elements of games for money and was surreptitiously filmed accepting £150,000 in cash from a journalist.

Ashraf blamed Majeed for the players' involvement in spot-fixing and reiterated that Pakistan cricket would not give up on Amir.

"Definitely we will rehabilitate Amir through an education programme," he said. "Whatever has happened we are sad, not only me but also most of the Pakistani people are sad for this young boy who, with the other players, was trapped by Majeed."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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