The Pakistan Cricket Board will allow Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif to play the domestic one-day cup at the start of the new year. The decision has been taken with both players about to complete their rehabilitation in February 2016, following a five-year suspension from playing cricket.
Asif and Butt became eligible to play all forms of cricket from September, and were signed on as non-executive 17th grade employees by Water and Power Development Authority. Both of them have been travelling with the team but have not played any cricket yet. PCB had wanted to regulate Asif and Butt’s return as tightly as possible, and at the time the two of them still had some rehab work left to do.
While the board had accepted the ICC’s decision to lift the bans in September, they asked Asif and Butt to restart their careers from the ground up. The domestic T20 cup had been in full swing at the time, but Asif and Butt were asked not to take part and instead prove their form and fitness before they got to play competitive cricket. So in essence, the WAPDA contracts were to prevent other department teams from recruiting them.
Amir and Asif also had to visit most of the domestic regions across four different provinces and spread awareness on corruption issues. They lectured other players, coaches and officials at the domestic level on how to avoid corruption as part of the process to resume their cricket careers.
“We have decided to allow them to play the one-day cup starting after the ongoing first-class tournament in January,” a PCB spokesman told ESPNcricinfo. “By the end of Quaid-e-Azam trophy (the premier first-class tournament in Pakistan) they would have finished all of their rehab programmes and they will be free to resume their domestic cricket. The [one-day] tournament is slotted in the second week of January.”
Unlike Asif and Butt, Mohammad Amir had admitted his guilt in the spot-fixing incident of 2010 from the outset and got a head start. Amir was allowed to play domestic cricket from January. His case was fast tracked following an amendment in the ICC’s code of conduct, allowing banned players to feature in domestic matches a few months prior to the end of their ban if their ban conditions and rehabilitation requirements are met. Amir’s return at the national level is already being talked with PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan and Pakistan coach Waqar Younis giving him support.