Mohammad Irfan, the strapping left-arm fast bowler, on Tuesday (September 26) took fresh guard with a first-class match after serving a six-month ban in the Pakistan Super League spot-fixing case.
Irfan, 35, was banned for one year (six months suspended) after he was charged for failing to report fixing offers on more than one occasion. He was also fined one million rupees (US $10,000).
Ironically, Irfan is featuring in a match for Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), the defending champions, at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, the headquarters of the Pakistan Cricket Board where he was handed the punishment six months ago.
WAPDA are led by Salman Butt, who himself has returned after serving a protracted ban for spot-fixing in 2010.
Irfan said he was a changed man. “The ban has helped me learn a lesson that I have to follow the code,” he said. “It was a tough period; the last six months felt like six years. I have lost some ground, both cricket-wise as well as financially.”
Irfan said he had committed a mistake which he would never repeat. “I have realised my mistake and I am now a changed person. During the ban, I read the code and worked out in the gym to maintain my fitness.
“The last 12 months had been very tough. I lost my mother and then my father, so I couldn’t report the matter (approach). Then, I went to the PSL, where the PCB came up with some information and since it was serious, I was charged. I confessed to my mistake.”
Irfan, the tallest player to play international cricket at seven feet and one inch, will have to lift his fitness in a big way as Mickey Arthur, the current head coach, has introduced a strict fitness regimen. Players who do not meet the yardsticks set by the South African are not being included in the national team.
“I will do my best to match up to those standards because I want to play for Pakistan.”