Cricket: Officials to bat for Aamer

By Shahid Hashmi

Mohammad Aamer thanked Pakistan cricket chiefs after officials confirmed 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 said. "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."

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 this weekend.

Now the PCB hope that 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.

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 jail terms for violating the British 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).

Butt and Asif have also admitted their guilt and all three players are currently undergoing a rehabilitation programme.


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