Pakistan pacer Mohammad Irfan is eager to get back into cricket after serving a six-month ban for not revealing a suspicious approach by bookies during a domestic T20 tournament.
The tall fast bowler was banned from all forms of cricket for one year after he failed to report two corrupt approaches made to him during that particular tournament.
He served a six-month suspended sentence along with bearing a fine of one million Pakistan Rupees.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has been investigating cases of spot-fixing in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) by international betting syndicates. Batsmen Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif were also handed out suspended sentences for their role in the scandal.
”I regret that I didn’t report it and I have realised how serious it is if you don’t report a corrupt approach. But I am still very much accepted and people still like me,” Irfan told cricket website ESPN Cricinfo.
The seven foot tall bowler has played four Tests, 60 ODIs and 20 T20Is for Pakistan so far in his career.
His last appearance for the national team came in September 2016 when Pakistan took on England in an ODI at Leeds.
Irfan’s role in the scandal had come under scrutiny during the second edition of the PSL held in Dubai. The fixing scandal eventually saw Sharjeel and Latif banned for five years while Mohammad Nawaz was handed a two-month ban.
“I regret that I didn’t report it and I have realised how serious it is if you don’t report a corrupt approach. But I am still very much accepted and people still like me.
“I don’t want to go into details about whether the punishment was harsh. There were reasons I didn’t report instantly but I did reject them straightaway,” the 35-year-old added.
The pacer sees himself as an ideal T20 cricket prospect and is looking to get back into contention for the national team through the Quaid-e-Azam domestic first-class Trophy.
Irfan’s contract with domestic side WAPDA has resumed upon the completion of the ban and he is expected to feature in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy from September 26.
Former Pakistan batsman Ramiz Raja believes the recently concluded series against a World XI “will go a long way in cementing a positive perception” that regular international cricket can one day be played in the country again.
It’s been a memorable three and a half months for the 1992 world champions. As the lowest-ranked nation in the competition, they defied the odds by beating India to win their first ICC Champions Trophy in June.
Then last week, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) hosted their most high-profile international series since the 2009 militant attack on the touring Sri Lankan bus that left eight people dead, as the national team beat a star-studded World XI over three T20 matches in Lahore.
That World XI squad featured the likes of South Africa’s Hashim Amla and West Indies’ Darren Sammy with the PCB calling it the first step in bringing elite cricket back to Pakistan.
Raja, who played 57 Tests and 198 ODIs for Pakistan, believes it’s only a matter of time before more matches are hosted in his home nation.
“It’s not that far (from international cricket returning to Pakistan),” he told Sport360° at the t-Lounge by Dilmah at Dubai’s Ibn Battuta Mall on Wednesday.
“I think it will go a long way in promoting international cricket in Pakistan.
“International cricket being played in Pakistan had to happen one day because they were on the receiving end for almost eight years where some of these young guys were not able to play in front of their home fans.
“They had to prove to the world, that they couldn’t be sidelined. They are a fantastic team and there’s great talent.
“I’m sure there’s more to come. Sri Lanka are scheduled to play one T20 game while there are talks of West Indies playing a T20 series. From that point of view, I think the World XI series will go a long way in cementing a positive perception in favour of Pakistan.”
The 55-year-old also praised the World XI touring party for playing their part in making the trip to Lahore. “The first steps are always difficult to take but everyone went home extremely satisfied,” he said.
“Whatever interviews I read by the the World XI players suggested they were so happy to be part of a great relaunching process and be part of a historic event.
“They had a look at the security situation and the cricket situation, and the bigger picture. The bigger picture was that ‘we need you and you need us’. It’s good that they feel Pakistan cannot be left alone.
“We need to thank the players who came. There must’ve been pleadings from the family but they made the trip.”
With optimism high in the Pakistan camp, Raja said head coach Mickey Arthur has played a major role in turning things around.
The South African was appointed head coach in May last year and has helped breed consistency in all aspects of Pakistan’s play.
“What they have done differently under him is that everyone has bought over the idea of being fit,” the 1992 World Cup winner added.
“They are on the same page as Mickey Arthur. Their fitness has gone up and the performances have improved. They are finding some good young talent which is something they’ve done so well.”
Pakistan cricket’s anti-corruption tribunal on Wednesday banned opener Khalid Latif for five years and fined him one million rupees ($9,489) over a spot-fixing case, the second casualty after teammate Sharjeel Khan was banned late last month.
“Latif is banned for five years and fined one million rupees after the proceedings of the case,” the three-member tribunal announced.
The 31-year-old has played five one-day internationals and 13 T20Is, the last of which was against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi in September 2016.
In August, Sharjeel was banned for five years, with two-and-a-half years suspended, for his role in the spot-fixing scandal.
Latif had been charged with breaching six clauses, including the serious offence of luring other players to take part in fixing.
The Pakistan cricket Board (PCB) provisionally suspended Latif and Sharjeel after they found evidence of spot-fixing during a Pakistan Super League (PSL) match between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi in Dubai in February.
Anti Corruption Tribunal has found Khalid Latif guiltily of all charges, therefore has announced a ban of 5 years & a fine of PKR 1 Million
— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) September 20, 2017
The board said Sharjeel and Latif met an alleged bookie and struck a deal. Based on the plan, Sharjeel — an aggressive batsman who scores quickly — agreed to play two dot balls after the first over in the match.
Although Latif did not play in that game, he was later charged with luring Sharjeel into the deal and not reporting the matter to the PCB anti-corruption unit.
Spot-fixing involves bets on the outcome of a particular passage of play, unlike match-fixing in which there is an attempt to prearrange the result of the match.
Both players were suspended provisionally at the time and withdrawn from the PSL.
The minimum punishment for the charges which Latif faced was a six-month suspension with a maximum of a life ban.
Under the PCB code players can appeal rulings before an independent arbitrator within 14 days of the decision.
Four other players — Mohammad Irfan, Shahzaib Hasan, Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Nawaz — were also included in the investigation on multiple charges.
Irfan and Nawaz admitted not reporting the bookie’s offer. Irfan was banned for one year with six months suspended and fined one million rupees. Nawaz was banned for two months, with one suspended, and fined 200,0000 rupees.
Both are now free to play, while the cases against Hasan and Jamshed are continuing.
Latif’s lawyer Badre Alam repeatedly raised objections during the proceedings, and also filed a petition in the Lahore high court against the tribunal. But the pleas were rejected by the court.
Alam, who like Latif did not attend the announcement, rejected the verdict.
“The short decision proves that the tribunal is not impartial,” Alam told media. “They had made up their mind to punish Latif. We will decide our plans only after the detailed judgement comes.”
Latif had shown tremendous promise at an early age but has failed to make an impact at international level.
Having made his first class debut at 15, he led Pakistan to victory at the Junior World Cup in Bangladesh in 2004.
But once drafted to the Pakistan side for a one-day match against Zimbabwe in 2008, Latif could not cement his place on the national team.
Last year he appeared to have become a regular player in the Twenty20 squad, having scored a rapid 59 not out against England last year.
But the latest punishment looks set to all but end a career which had only briefly taken off.