Mohammad Aamer grateful to PCB for seeking leniency

PCB hope Mohammad Aamer will be allowed to train at their facilities © Getty Images

Abu Dhabi: Oct 19, 2013

Mohammad Aamer thanked Pakistan cricket chiefs after officials confirmed on Friday they will renew their efforts to have the severity of his match-fixing ban reduced by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

“I am very happy at the news,” Aamer told AFP.

“I am desperate to play the game I love — I have not lost hope that good news is just around the corner.”

“I made a mistake and got the punishment. I am thankful to the PCB for taking up the matter with the ICC,” Aamer added.

Earlier this year the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) asked the ICC to relax Aamer’s punishment, with the bowler currently banned from cricket at all levels.

The global governing body responded by forming a five-man committee led by England’s Giles Clarke to look into Aamer’s case and this is expected to meet on the sidelines of the ICC board meeting in London on Friday and Saturday.

Now the PCB hope Aamer will be allowed to train at their facilities and play some club level matches before his ban expires.

The PCB are also optimistic an opinion they’ve received from a senior English lawyer will encourage the ICC to show leniency towards Aamer.

“We have taken the opinion of a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in London and his report will be put before the working committee of the ICC this weekend,” PCB legal adviser Taffazul Rizvi told AFP.

In February 2011 the now 21-year-old Aamer was banned for five years, along with team-mates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, for deliberately bowling no-balls in return for the promise of money during the 2010  Lord’s Test against England.

Butt, Pakistan’s captain at the time of the incident, which came about as a result of a sting operation by now defunct UK tabloid the News of the World, was banned for 10 years (five suspended) and Asif seven years (two suspended).

All three players served jailed terms for violating in for violating English law’s Gambling Act.

There was, however, widespread sympathy for talented left-arm seamer Aamer, who at the time of the scandal was regarded as world cricket’s hottest property, having made a huge impression in 14 Tests, 16 ODIs and 18 Twenty20 Internationals following his Pakistan debut in June 2009.

Rizvi said Aamer deserved credit for pleading guilty and cooperating with the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU).

“Our point of view is that Aamer has accepted his guilt and is cooperating with the ACSU, has made a video to warn future generations (about the dangers of match-fixing).

“We believe the ban was imposed when he was only 18 and contesting the allegations at that time. We think it ought to be reviewed, whereby some door can be opened to allow him to play domestic cricket or train,” Rizvi added.

Butt and Asif have also admitted their guilt and all three players are currently undergoing a rehabilitation programme, mandatory under ICC rules before any player banned for fixing can return to cricket.

Asif and Butt have also approached the PCB to seek their help in reducing their respective bans.

But given their greater experience, and the fact that Butt in particular was widely regarded as having helped lead Aamer astray, their pleas have so far fallen on deaf ears.

In the trio’s absence, Pakistan confirmed their reputation as the world’s most unpredictable side with a shock seven-wicket win over number one ranked South Africa in the first of a two-Test series in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

The stunning victory followed Pakistan’s embarrassing defeat by minnows Zimbabwe last month.