Amir must focus on rehabilitation - Lorgat
Mohammad Amir must go through a process of rehabilitation, including educating himself and others about the perils of corruption, and not focus on the reduction of the ban imposed on him by an ICC tribunal for his involvement in spot-fixing, the ICC chief Haroon Lorgat has said. Lorgat also said the ICC rules do not allow for a reduction of the five-year ban and stressed the importance of respecting the verdict the independent tribunal had reached.
In his first statement after returning to Pakistan from England on February 26, Amir had said he would not request the ICC to reduce his ban, which runs until 2015. Lorgat said Amir should start the rehabilitation process by doing the right things.
"I would prefer that the starting point should not be about whether we [ICC] could reduce the sentence," Lorgat told ESPNcricinfo in Mumbai, en route to Sri Lanka where he will release the first batch of tickets for the ICC World Twenty20. "Let that [the reduction of the ban] be the end result of a process of rehabilitation since he has now come clean, if that is indeed the case. Part of the sanction he received from the ICC tribunal was to educate himself and for him to educate others. So let us do all the necessary building blocks before we get to a point where anyone could ask, 'Does he now deserve a review?'"
Amir was released from custody after serving half of his six-month sentence for his involvement in the spot-fixing scandal during the Lord's Test in 2010. The Crown Prosecution Service had brought charges against Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif under conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat at gambling after a sting operation carried out by the now defunct News Of the World. Butt and Asif had pleaded not guilty in court but were found guilty in November 2011; Amir pleaded guilty to the charges and did not stand trial. Amir, however, had pleaded not guilty before the ICC's tribunal in Doha in February 2011.
Life could have been different and perhaps easier for Amir, Lorgat said, had he pleaded guilty in front of the ICC tribunal in Doha. Amir had maintained he was innocent at the time. The three-man tribunal - comprising Michael Beloff QC, Sharad Rao and Justice Albie Sachs - banned Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Amir for ten, seven and five years respectively, after finding them guilty of spot-fixing. Amir's reaction to that decision was that he would appeal the ban in the Court of Arbitration of Sports in Switzerland. He later decided not to appeal.
"I find it very unfortunate for Mohammad Amir. We did provide him with lots of opportunities," Lorgat said, when asked if he was disappointed Amir did not confess in Doha. "The tribunal might have looked at it differently and who knows what decision they could have come to on sanction. It could have been a different story. I am sad for him."
In an interview on Sky TV after his release from custody, Amir said he had been tricked into bowling no-balls to order during the Lord's Test by his agent Mazhar Majeed and his captain Salman Butt. He said he did not "have the courage" to admit his guilt to the ICC tribunal.
Lorgat's advice for Amir was to not to give up and, "do all the right things." "Come into the education process and don't just give up the game," Lorgat said. "Retain your faith in the future. He must be prepared to tell his story and explain to others what they need to be careful of."
Lorgat felt the ICC, the PCB and Amir, and all other stakeholders, should work together to try and ensure no other player falls prey to corruption. He said Amir could talk, over video, to the players during the ICC Under-19 World Cup to be held in Australia later this year. "If Mohammad Amir stands up and delivers a message of caution about this murky world, people are going to sit up and listen. That is one example of rehabilitation."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo