Islamabad: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) intends to find a British-based lawyer to find a way to shave an year off fast bowler Mohammad Amir's five-year ban for spot-fixing.
Amir was one of cricket's rising stars when he accepted his guilt immediately in the spot-fixing scandal around the Lord's Test against England in 2010. Unlike senior team-mates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, the then-teenage Amir pleaded guilty in court, was out of jail after three months for good behaviour and did not appeal his ICC ban to the Court of Arbitration of Sport.
Of the trio, he's given the most chance of returning to international cricket and retains the backing of the PCB. Amir's ban expires in September 2015, but the PCB hope to end Amir's ban before then.
PCB acting chairman Najam Sethi returned home on Wednesday from the International Cricket Council (ICC) board meeting in London and said he discussed Amir's ban with fellow PCB members. "We will soon hire a foreign lawyer in the UK to look at ways to get at least 20 percent relief for Amir," Sethi said in Lahore.
Sethi said Amir was undergoing a rehabilitation program, and a new ICC subcommittee will look into how Amir can return to international cricket when his ban ends.
Meanwhile, Sethi confirmed attempts were made by Pakistan organisations to suspend Pakistan's membership in the ICC because of his appointment. Sethi was chosen as the acting chairman last month by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after the Islamabad High Court ordered the government to replace Zaka Ashraf, whose election as PCB chief was challenged.
But Transparency International Pakistan wrote to the ICC to say Sethi's appointment violated the PCB's new constitution. Sethi's appointment was also challenged in the high court, and the next hearing will be on Thursday.
Asked about attempts to oust him, Sethi said, "It's true," but wouldn't reveal names. Sethi said he was welcomed at the ICC board meeting and "when they met with me, they supported the constitution and rejected all the other things going around."
Also a prominent political analyst, Sethi said he did not want to stay long in the PCB. He wants to resolve the key issues like the election of his replacement, and sign off on the team for the tour of West Indies before going back to his political programme at a private television channel.
"I am a transparent man, and if my appointment is challenged in the courts, I will go and the [Pakistan] tours will be jeopardised," he said. "If the courts now start appointing [chairmen], I want the court to appoint a chairman. And if the team then loses, then the judge who appoints him, it will be his responsibility to explain."
Sethi said it will solve no purpose if more and more petitions are moved in the courts. "If a chairman has been appointed on the directions of the court and is also accepted by the ICC, he should be allowed to continue," he said.
Pakistan's other major problem was the security fears that prevent foreign teams from visiting since the 2009 deadly attack on the Sri Lanka team convoy in Lahore. "The maximum we can do is ask the ICC to review each year, but they demand assurances and demonstrable progress," he said.
Sethi said he met with the cricket chiefs of West Indies and England to try to arrange unofficial tours by their teams in a bid to restore the confidence of foreign teams.