ISLAMABAD: Pace bowler Mohammad Asif is eyeing a dramatic return to international cricket in Pakistan’s tour of England next summer after the expiry of his five-year ban for spot-fixing. Asif was ranked third in the ICC Test bowling rankings when he was initially suspended in September 2010 for bowling deliberate no-balls in Pakistan’s match against...
ISLAMABAD: Pace bowler Mohammad Asif is eyeing a dramatic return to international cricket in Pakistan’s tour of England next summer after the expiry of his five-year ban for spot-fixing.
Asif was ranked third in the ICC Test bowling rankings when he was initially suspended in September 2010 for bowling deliberate no-balls in Pakistan’s match against England at Lord’s the previous month.
Asif along with fellow seamer Mohammad Amir and then Pakistan captain Salman Butt, have completed five-year bans, while trio served jail terms for the conspiracy to cheat at gambling and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.
While Asif expressed regret at his actions, following his ban elapsing this week, the 32-year-old has targeted a return to the scene of his crime as a potential comeback with Pakistan, who are scheduled to play four Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 in England between July and September next year.
“The door has been opened for me and it’s down to me to perform. Realistically, though, my target for a return to international cricket is the series in England next year and that is a target I have set myself,” he said in an interview with UK Daily Telegraph.
“My fitness is fine and I weigh exactly what I did five years ago before I was banned. Mentally I am ready for a return to cricket but I have to be realistic and take things one step at a time. I’ve now started training at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore which will be a great help.”
In February 2011, Asif was handed a seven-year ban, the last two of which were suspended due to an apparent lack of contrition at the time, by an ICC tribunal although the additional tariff was not mandated.
He also served half of a one-year jail term at Canterbury Prison and now wants to make sure others avoid the pitfalls that have befallen him.
“That was a huge mistake and yes it’s a huge regret,” he said. “It’s a mistake that I want to warn the next generation of cricketers about and to ensure they learn from me and to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes that I made.
“I will speak with those young players face to face if the International Cricket Council and Pakistan Cricket Board want me to and lecture them about what I have faced in these last five years and warn them of the consequences.
The last five years of my life have been very harsh and very hard for me. It wasn’t just tough for me, but it was also a very difficult time for my family.
My family offered me a lot of support during these tough times particularly when I was serving time in prison in the United Kingdom.” – Web Desk