Butt and Asif get WAPDA contracts
Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, whose bans for spot-fixing lifted on September 2, have been signed by the Water & Power Development Authority (WAPDA) as non-executive 17th grade employees. Both Asif and Butt have confirmed that they have signed the 17th grade application form offered by WAPDA, but it is yet to be determined if they will feature in the 2015-16 first-class season.
For now the contract will prevent the two from signing up for other departmental teams in Pakistan when they are eligible to play domestic cricket after their ongoing rehabilitation programme ends in February 2016. "Both have started training with us," Amjad Saddique, the WAPDA coach, told ESPNcricinfo. "We have also sent their names in the probables, but it's now on the PCB on what they will decide. Meanwhile, we have signed a contract with them."
The PCB had made clear its intent to regulate the pair's return in to competitive cricket after the ban lifted, saying they are required to take part in an anti-corruption educational programme, have sessions with a psychologist, and play grade cricket for a start, before returning to the first-class game. So, ESPNcricinfo understands, they are unlikely to play top-flight cricket in the current season - the domestic first-class circuit is about to kick-start this month but both according to the PCB both will be eligible to play only after playing grade two cricket, which will start in August 2016. "PCB rehab programme and its terms and conditions remain the same as they were," a PCB spokesman said.
Previously both Butt and Asif were associated with National Bank of Pakistan, but their contracts were immediately terminated they were found guilty of spot-fixing. The third player of the tainted trio, Mohammad Amir, was also part of National Bank previously but has now signed with Sui Southern Gas Company Limited.
Amir, who had admitted to his guilt from the outset unlike the other two, got a head start in domestic cricket after being relieved of his five-year ban in January. His case was fast tracked following an amendment in the ICC's code of conduct, allowing banned players to feature in domestic matches a few months prior to the end of their ban if their ban conditions and rehabilitation requirements are met.
Butt, Asif and Amir were banned for 10 (five years suspended), seven (two years suspended) and five years respectively, after an ICC tribunal found them guilty of spot-fixing in a case stemming from the 2010 Lord's Test. The possible reduction in the penalty came on the condition that Asif and Butt would commit no further breach of the anti-corruption code and participate in a PCB-controlled anti-corruption education programme.
The same concessions were not allowed to Asif and Butt, who were much more senior members of the Pakistan squad when they transgressed. PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said: "We will tell the region [team] too they cannot play until they prove their ability at the low level. They can't be allowed to play any national championship but can only be allowed to play second-class cricket. They can't walk back in the system with the reputation they had five years ago."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson