News 27 August 2015

PCB announces action plan for reintegration of spot-fixing trio

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced a ‘policy on reintegration’ for the three Pakistani international cricketers banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2010 for spot-fixing. Mohammad Asif, Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir were found guilty of various offences of corrupt behaviour relating to the Lord’s Test match between England and Pakistan in August 2010. They were banned from all cricket for five years. Asif and Butt were given additional suspended sentences of two and five years respectively.

However earlier this month the ICC confirmed that the sanctions against Asfi, Butt and Amir would expire at midnight on 1 September 2015, as reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative. In a press release, the ICC stated that the three cricketers had fulfilled the ‘specific conditions laid down by the independent Anti-Corruption Tribunal’, rendering them eligible to return to competitive cricket, at both domestic and international levels.

In response to this move by the ICC, the PCB said that, ‘after seeking clarification and considering a number of factors that have a direct bearing on the team’, that it had devised a ‘reintegration/rehabilitation plan’ for the smooth integration of the three players into cricket. The Chairman of the PCB, Shaharyar Khan, said, ‘We had to consider the effect of an immediate induction of these players into cricket, the acceptability of these players amongst their fellow cricketers, the anticipated negative slogans at the grounds from cricket fans and its effect on the other players and the banned players’ own strength to deal with these pressures.

‘Having considered all these factors we have come up with an action plan that will ensure a smooth and gradual induction of these players into cricket leading up to a full integration upon completion of rehabilitation and education programme.’

The PCB statement went on to describe the action plan for reintegration, which involves the three players working with the PCB Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Department, the delivery of lectures and the reintegration of the players into training at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) as well as playing domestic district level and club cricket.

Mohammad Amir has already returned to domestic cricket after changes to the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Code allowed him to return to play with the approval of the PCB. The PCB initially remained unsupportive of Butt due to his reluctance to accept his conviction or cooperate with the board. However after admitting his role in the spot-fixing scandal earlier this year, Khan signalled that the PCB would support Butt in his appeal to have his five-year suspended sentence reviewed by the ICC’s ACSU.

All three players will be allowed to start practicing regularly at the NCA from 2 September 2015 onwards, but not when Pakistan national players practice there, so as ‘to avoid any untoward incident.’

Pakistan will play England in a series of Test, One-Day International and T20 matches in the United Arab Emirates in October and November this year. Media reports had suggested that Mohammad Amir was a ‘strong candidate’ to be included in at least the Pakistan A team for the warm-up tour matches against England in early October. This now looks unlikely, with Khan stating, ‘While we recognise the importance of getting these three players back in our fold we are also cautious of the adverse impact it could have not only on the entire nation but on their fellow players if we hastily induct them into the national side.

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