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Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir can make a return to domestic cricket immediately after the International Cricket Council eased his five-year fixing ban which was due to end in September.
Amir was banned from all cricket after pleading guilty in 2010 to charges of bowling deliberate no-balls at pre-arranged times during a test against England to fix spot betting markets.
“It’s a new life for me and you will see not only Mohammad Amir as a better cricketer but also a better human being,” the 22-year-old Amir told reporters in Lahore on Thursday.
The ICC said that Ronnie Flanagan, chairman of its Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, had decided to “allow Mohammad Amir to return to domestic cricket played under the auspices of the Pakistan Cricket Board with immediate effect.”
The PCB wrote to the ICC last year asking for a reconsideration of Amir’s ban. Two other Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were banned for a minimum of five years for similar offences in the same test against England at Lord’s, but both fought against their bans before eventually losing their appeals in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The PCB didn’t raise the cases of Butt and Asif’s bans to the ICC.
Amir was reportedly interviewed by the ICC last week in Dubai and Flanagan sought prior approval from the ICC Board and the PCB before deciding to allow Amir back into domestic cricket.
“He (Flanagan) was satisfied that Amir 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 said in the statement.
Former captain Mohammad Yousuf said the fast bowler should be welcomed again with “big heart.”
“He has served his punishment and I believe he will be as much effective as he used to be,” Yousuf told television channel Geo TV. “It’s a good sign that such a big player will be making a comeback and I hope he will not repeat his mistake.”
Before his suspension Amir took 51 wickets in 14 test matches at an average of 29.09 and 25 wickets in 15 one-day internationals at an average of 24. He also competed in 18 Twenty20 internationals and took 23 wickets.
Former chairman of the PCB Tauqir Zia feared Amir didn’t show enough remorse over his wrongdoings and questioned why Butt and Asif were left out.
“I have seen Mohammad Amir a lot after his suspension, if a man doesn’t show enough remorse from inside, he will do it again and will let others to do it too,” Zia said in Lahore.
Amir said he wanted to answer his critics with his performance.
“Everyone has his own thinking, I should focus on my career and see what I could do for the betterment of Pakistan cricket,” he said.
“There are players like Shane Watson, Michael Atherton, Michael Holding, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Imran Khan who are saying that I should come back, so whom should I listen to?”
In other decisions taken during the ICC Board meeting, it was also decided to reinstate the ‘Super Over’ in case the World Cup 2015 final is tied.
The board also ruled that captains of all the World Cup 2015 teams will not carry any prior over-rate suspensions from other series into next month’s event. Instead, over-rate offences will be carried over to the first bilateral series after the World Cup.