PCB urges Butt, Asif to come clean
Shaharyar Khan, the PCB chairman, has urged banned cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif to come clean about their role in the 2010 spot-fixing controversy and satisfy the board to push their case for an early return to cricket.
The ICC recently approved a revised anti-corruption code that allows banned players to make an early return to domestic cricket, if they are found to meet certain criteria. These criteria, according to ICC president N Srinivasan, include "the level of remorse shown by the player, his/her cooperation with the ACSU's education programme and/or if the player has helped the ACSU by disclosing all information that, in turn, has helped it to enforce the Anti-Corruption Code in respect of others engaged in corruption conduct."
The PCB is requesting the ICC to allow Mohammad Amir, who was banned along with Butt and Asif, to return early to domestic cricket, before the official end of his five-year ban in August 2015. It is reluctant to extend the same treatment to Butt and Asif at this point. Unlike Amir, who pleaded guilty during the criminal investigation in London, Butt and Asif continued to insist they were innocent, even in the face of evidence against them, confessing only after they had lost all option of appealing against their bans.
"We are writing to the ICC for leniency [for Amir] after assessing all the factors involved - legal, cricketing, precedence - in his case," Shaharyar told reporters on his arrival from the ICC meeting. "We are hoping to get a relaxation in his ban but this is a long process and dispatching a letter to ICC doesn't mean that he will start playing next week. It takes time.
"But, on a different note, such discretion is not for Butt and Asif presently because they are yet to satisfy us as they are yet to fulfill various conditions against their ban. First of all they have to come clean with an open heart and convince us and show us their intentions. So at the moment we are pursuing Amir's case [only]."
ESPNcricinfo understands there are 'hard sentiments' against Butt and Asif within the ICC and the PCB, and they are reluctant to extend to them the treatment they are affording Amir. In the long run, the PCB does intend to pursue Butt and Asif's cases, but not before the end of the first five years of their respective bans, in August 2015.
The remaining five years of Butt's ten-year ban and the remaining two of Asif's seven-year ban were to be suspended sentences on the condition that they commit no further breaches of the anti-corruption code and participate in a PCB-run anti-corruption education programme. Butt had indicated his willingness to participate in the PCB and ICC's rehabilitation programmes but it is understood that Asif, who confessed to fixing in August 2013, is yet to approach the PCB.
Butt has requested the PCB to allow him play domestic cricket, saying he is ready to fulfill any condition, but the PCB appears to be reluctant to take up his case. The PCB have set a hierarchy for the three banned cricketers, with Amir on top. Butt offered a confession and an apology last year but the PCB said they were not satisfied with it, deeming it as irrelevant and too brief to satisfy the conditions.
"I know him [Butt] personally and he is not coming with an open heart," Shaharyar said. "His statement was brief and unsatisfactory and he has to show more than this. Seems like he hasn't accepted his mistake in his heart and whatever he is saying we don't trust, and ICC and their anti-corruption unit will also not be convinced."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson