Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent
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Mohammad Amir, the Pakistan fast-bowler banned from competitive cricket for five years for his part in the spot-fixing scandal of the 2010 Lord's Test, has appeared in an educational video on behalf of the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU).
In the five-minute video, Amir speaks about his life after being trapped by the illegal betting mafia, his embarrassment at lying to the ICC during its Qatar hearings and his three months in a British prison. Amir recounts his career, coming into the Pakistan team, and the Lord's Test, of which he says, "I took six wickets but I did something very bad… after a couple of hours, my life is changed, my life is ruined because of two no balls." It is understood the Amir video has also been shown to players from the various IPL teams in the lead-up to the event, which began on Wednesday.
Amir said he had wanted to confess to the ICC anti-corruption tribunal during their hearings in Qatar last January, but had been unable to do so. In the video, he says, "I always knew this was cheating cricket but I was under pressure. But I accept my mistake. When I was in the ICC hearing, I knew I was totally embarrassed because I knew I am lying. I wanted to tell the truth but I didn't have courage."
He said had bowled the no-balls at Lord's because, "some senior players put me under pressure. I didn't want to. One day I was on the top and the next day everyone was calling me cheater and fixer. You don't have words to explain that." The spot-fixing episode, he said, had been an act of entrapment but accepted his mistake of becoming a part of it. He said he was tricked into spot-fixing and he was not aware of the the player-agent Mazhar Majeed's intentions.
When he found himself facing a criminal trial, Amir said he had decided to tell the truth. The spot-fixing exercise was exposed by a sting operation arranged by the now defunct UK Sunday tabloid, the News Of the World. Amir who will turn 20 on April 13, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat at gambling and did not stand trial in London. He was sentenced to six months in jail and in the video says, "When the police put me in handcuffs I was literally crying and I was thinking I am not going to play cricket ever again."
His parting message in the video is, "Prison is a bad place for everyone. Don't make the mistakes which I did. I was stupid I didn't tell anybody because I didn't have coverage...If someone comes to you and asks you to do those kind of things, go straight to ICC team and team management they can help you."
Since his release after serving half of his six-month custodial sentence in England, Amir has been in contact with the ICC and PCB for an educational and rehabilitation program, which "remains confidential".
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo last month, the ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat had suggested the idea of Amir featuring in videos to point out the perils of corruption as part of educating young cricketers. "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,' Lorgat said.
In a televised interview with former England captain Michael Atherton last month, Aamer said his friendship with former Pakistan skipper Salman Butt was betrayed as it was Butt who had lured him into spot-fixing. Amir is currently living in Lahore, and serving his five-year ban which will run till 2015. There is no suggestion that Amir's appearance in the ACSU video will lead to a reduction of his ban.
There has been a lot of sympathy for Amir largely due to his age. Former captain Ramiz Raja met the bowler last week said, "the lad is obviously shaken badly by the gravity of events." The PCB at the moment is keen to take care of the bowler but is yet to launch any rehabilitation program officially; it is understood the ICC is supporting the PCB in the process. An ICC spokesman told ESPNcricinfo: "The ICC has been in contact with Amir and the PCB about appropriate education and rehabilitation at an appropriate time, the details of which remain confidential."