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Pakistan spot fixing trio dream of return

LAHORE, Pakistan, Feb 5, (AFP): Pakistan’s talented but tainted trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer Wednesday vowed to return to international cricket, three years to the day after they were banned for spot-fixing. On Feb 5, 2011 an anti-corruption tribunal of the International Cricket Council (ICC) banned the three players for a minimum of five years for arranging no balls to order during the Lord’s Test against England in August 2010. Butt, 29, the captain of the Pakistan Test team at the time, finally admitted his guilt in June last year and said he wanted to move on from the disgrace.“I try hard to forget but someone always makes me remember that tough day,” Butt told AFP.

Butt was banned for 10 years, with five suspended, Asif for seven with two suspended and Aamer for five years, meaning all of them could return to the game in August 2015. “I regularly play cricket as I cannot adopt any other profession and I am very, very keen to stage a comeback,” said Butt. The ICC tribunal made rehabilitation, including anti-corruption courses, mandatory to avoid the suspended part of the players’ sentence. West Indian Marlon Samuels is the only player ever to return to international cricket after serving a two-year ban on fixing. Butt said he wanted the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to help him get permission to play first-class cricket.

“The PCB has taken up Aamer’s case and I have appealed to them to help me play first-class cricket, as I am very keen to resume my career,” said Butt, who played 33 Tests, 78 one-day internationals and 24 Twenty20s for Pakistan. The ICC last year formed a committee to consider relaxing some of the sanctions of Aamer’s ban. Asif has found a sideline on the silver screen and is about to star in a joint Indian-Pakistani film, but says he wants to return to the game. “Although I am going to act in the film, my first love is cricket and I am counting the days until my ban is over,” Asif, 31, told AFP.

“Cricket will always be part of my life, it’s in my blood and I will bowl once again for Pakistan.” Meanwhile 21-year-old Aamer — who was just 19 at the time of the scandal and received a great deal of sympathy — said he was looking forward to returning. “I train a lot because I cannot think of anything else to do other than playing cricket,” he told AFP. Before the ban, the young left-armer was seen as one of the brightest fast-bowling talents in international cricket.

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