Karachi - Disgraced Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir issued a public apology
to fans and players on Wednesday as his five-year ban for spot-fixing expired,
vowing to make a fresh beginning.
The 23-year-old is eligible to return to all levels of cricket from
Wednesday, along with Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, who were also banned for
their part in the notorious 2010 Lord's spot-fixing scandal.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) kicked them out of the game for five
years for orchestrating deliberate no-balls in return for money during a Test
against England. They were also jailed by a British court.
Amir, who has repeatedly voiced contrition for the scandal, said sorry once
"I sincerely apologise to everyone I have hurt - my colleagues, my
fans, family and my country," he said in a statement.
"I will never be able to explain how much I regret the mistake I made
at the promising start of my career. I disappointed my teammates and seniors
who expected much better from me."
A precocious talent, Amir graduated to play for Pakistan aged just 17 in
2009 and received widespread sympathy from across the cricketing world at the
time of his ban.
Partly because of his youth and naivety, the ICC earlier this year allowed
him to return early to domestic cricket.
He featured in Grade-II cricket in April, taking an impressive 22 wickets in
four matches before getting injured.
Amir said he wanted to win over doubting fans through his performances.
"I am not sure if I can ever be truly forgiven but I hope to win your
trust and love with my upcoming performances. I believe this will be the best
way to redeem the past," he said.
"No matter how sorry I feel I can't change the past. What I can do is
start fresh and make a cleaner and brighter history, for myself and for
Former players were divided on whether the three players should be allowed
to play for Pakistan again.
While former captains Ramiz Raja and Rashid Latif vociferously opposed the
tainted trio's return to the national side, pace legends Wasim Akram, Imran
Khan and Shoaib Akhtar advocated a second chance.
Amir said he has set small goals for himself and is not targeting an early
return to international cricket.
Before banned, Amir had taken 51 wickets in 14 Tests and 25 in 15 one-day
internationals. He also had 23 wickets in 18 Twenty20 matches.