Banned Pakistan paceman Mohammad Aamer vowed on Thursday to prove himself as a “better player and better human being” after his spot-fixing ban was relaxed by the cricket world governing body.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has said Aamer, 22, can return to domestic matches with immediate effect, ending his five-year suspension from all forms of the game some eight months early.
Aamer, who was banned for his part in a scandal in which he arranged no-balls to order in a 2010 Test against England, said he was overwhelmed by the ICC announcement.
“It’s the biggest news of my life,” he told AFP by phone.
“It was the most difficult phase of my life but I am sure it’s over now and I am keen to return to international grounds.”
The 22-year-old’s ban was due to expire on September 2, but the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) used discretionary powers to allow him to return to Pakistani domestic games early.
“The ACSU Chairman, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, with the prior approval of the ICC Board and the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board), has exercised his discretion to allow Aamer to return to domestic cricket played under the auspices of the PCB with immediate effect,” the ICC said in a statement.
Aamer, along with captain Salman Butt and new-ball partner Mohammad Asif were found guilty of orchestrating deliberate no-balls in the Lord’s Test against England in August 2010.
The three players and their agent Mazhar Majeed were jailed by a UK court after the now-defunct tabloid News of the World exposed them in a sting operation.
At the time of the incident Aamer was regarded as one of the hottest young bowling prospects in world cricket and there was some sympathy for him, given his young age – he was 18 at the time.
“The ACSU chairman was satisfied that Aamer had cooperated with the ACSU by fully disclosing his part in the matters that led to his disqualification, admitting his guilt, showing remorse and cooperating with the Unit’s ongoing investigations and by recording messages for the ACSU education sessions,” the ICC statement said.
PCB lawyer Tafazzul Rizvi said Aamer will be monitored during his return to domestic matches.
“The ICC code was followed in the process and now PCB will monitor Aamer’s behaviour in the next few months and only after that will he be eligible to return to international cricket,” Rizvi told AFP.
Former captain Ramiz Raja and former PCB head Tauqir Zia recently voiced their opposition to Aamer’s return to international cricket.
PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan had also revealed that some current Pakistan players had indicated they would not be comfortable sharing a dressing room with Aamer.
Aamer, however, vowed to win over the naysayers with his bowling – and promised to behave from now on.
“If anyone has any problems with my return I am sure he will change his views with my character and good performances,” said Aamer.
“My job is to play and do well and I am sure that I will return to international cricket as a better player and better human being and that’s my aim.”
Aamer said he never thought of giving up cricket.
“Cricket is my life and I never thought of leaving it,” he said.
“I have not forgotten how to bowl but now my focus on cricket will be more than before as I have to prove myself again.”