|Amir (R) was convicted of spot-fixing alongside Salman Butt and Mohammed Asif [GALLO/GETTY]|
Former Pakistan cricketers Mohammed Amir and Salman Butt will begin their appeals against their sentences for a spot-fixing scam next week.
Butt received a 30 month jail term while Amir, 19, was sentenced to six months for his part in bowling deliberate no-balls during a Test match against England.
The case will be heard by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday and any change to the decision would have a serious impact for the disgraced cricketers, particularly Amir who had just begun his Test career.
While opinion varies as to what the future should hold for Amir, his mentor believes the shamed cricketer will play for Pakistan again after serving his jail sentence and five-year ban for spot-fixing.
Asif Bajwa attracted Amir from a small village outside Rawalpindi to his academy from 2003 to 2007, when the fast bowler began to emerge on the national conscience. Within two more years, Amir made his debut for Pakistan.
He lived up to the tag of being the next Wasim Akram when he became the youngest to 50 Test wickets at 18 on last year’s tour of England.
“I want to see him playing for Pakistan again and I am confident he will make a comeback”
Mentor Asif Bajwa
But it was on that same tour he bowled predetermined no-balls in the Test at Lord’s.
Amir was eventually charged by police and pleaded guilty to avoid the trial that last month ended with convictions and longer jail terms for older teammates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif.
While the sentiment of most Pakistanis was that the trio deserved the punishment and should never represent Pakistan again, Bajwa backed his former student.
“I want to see him playing for Pakistan again and I am confident he will make a comeback,” Bajwa said.
Amir could serve only half of his six-month jail sentence if he behaves, and he will be 23 when his ban from cricket ends.
While the fact he’s young and impressionable gathered some sympathy, including from the sentencing judge, Amir’s compatriots have shown hardly any.
“I don’t care whether we lose Amir, Asif or Butt, the bottom line is that our cricket should be cleaned from this menace of fixing,” said Hamza Sultan, an Islamabad high school student.
Cricket writer Abdul Majid Bhatti of Pakistan’s leading media company, Jang Group of Publications, said there should be no opening back for the trio.
“On moral grounds these three should not return to international cricket,” Bhatti sad.
“In the past we have suffered a lot because we didn’t take any action against any player.
“Now it’s the right time to send a strong message and move on. I have no doubt that we will get lots of Amirs and Asifs in the near future… You just wait and see in two years’ time we will have at least three more.”