Inzamam-ul Haq, the former Pakistan captain, has backed Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt, his tainted compatriots, saying they should be given a second chance after serving stints in jail for spot-fixing.
The pair, along with Mohammad Amir, were jailed in Britain after being found guilty of spot-fixing during the 2010 Lord’s Test against England.
Although Amir has returned to the national team in impressive style, Asif and Butt remain sidelined and have not been included in Pakistan’s squad for the World T20 starting this month in India.
“Once a person completes his sentence, he has the right to live and play and the right to do everything else,” Inzamam said on Tuesday (March 1). “So I believe the other players should also get a chance to make a return.”
All three players were found guilty by a British court of arranging deliberate no-balls in return for money in a complex betting scam. They were jailed in 2011 and were released at different times the following year.
Amir returned to the national side for the limited-overs tour of New Zealand this January and has shown that he has not lost his wicket-taking ability.
Inzamam, who took over as coach of Afghanistan last year, was briefly in New Delhi as part of his team’s preparations for the World T20. The veteran of 120 Tests and 388 One-Day Internationals praised Amir for his sensational spell of bowling against India in the ongoing Asia Cup T20 in Dhaka.
“The sheer fact that a person can have so much talent, that even after a long hiatus he can bowl with the same vigour and precision, is amazing. The way he bowled against India, it didn’t look as if he was making a comeback after five long years. It was a treat to watch.”
Amir, 23, took three quick wickets after Pakistan were bowled out for 83, before Virat Kohli eventually led India to a five-wicket win over their arch-rivals.
Amir’s five-year ban from the sport was lifted last April by the International Cricket Council, while Asif and Butt became eligible last September for national and international matches. But the Pakistan Cricket Board has said the pair will have to work harder to impress before returning to international cricket.
They returned to domestic cricket in style in January, with Butt smashing a century and Asif, the left-arm paceman, picking up two wickets in their first outings in the one-day league.
Inzamam said he believed Pakistan still stood a chance in the World T20, starting on March 8, despite their disappointing batting in the Asia Cup. “T20 is an unpredictable format, so you cannot rule out any team’s chances.”