LAHORE: Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif will play the domestic one-day cup at the start of the new year after the two players complete their rehabilitation in February 2016, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced on Friday.
The players were cleared by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to return to the sport on September 2 after serving five-year bans for bowling no-balls to order during a Test match in England in 2010.
But the PCB put in place a six-month rehabilitation program before the duo could feature in top-flight domestic cricket.
Asif and Butt were signed on as non-executive 17th grade employees by Water and Power Development Authority and 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.
“We have decided to allow them to play the one-day cup starting after the ongoing first-class tournament in January,” a PCB spokesman said.
“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 the January.”
In February 2011 an anti-corruption tribunal of the ICC imposed a ban of five years on Mohammad Amir, seven years on Asif of which the final two years were conditionally suspended and 10 years on Butt of which the final five years were conditionally suspended.
They were charged with violating the ICC code of conduct by receiving money in return for arranging deliberate no-balls during the Lord’s Test against England.
Amir has already made a steady, return to domestic cricket and also featured in the Bangladesh Premier League. Amir, Asif and Butt have all expressed a desire to eventually return to the national side.
But on Thursday it was only Amir who received the backing of not only the Pakistan coach but also the PCB chairman.
“He (Amir) has served his punishment and he deserves to come back in the (cricketing) community and enhance his profession,” Waqar said in a press conference outside the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
In Bangladesh’s Twenty20 league, the left-arm fast bowler has taken nine wickets in seven matches for Chittagong Vikings, and he impressed Waqar.
“He is in very good form he has proved to the ICC and he has proved to the PCB that he is on the right track, and it’s our responsibility that we should give him another opportunity,” Waqar said.
Waqar had a detailed discussion on Amir’s future with Shaharyar Khan on Thursday, and said “we are all on the same page” about his future in international cricket.
“(Amir) has performed well over the last four-five months, and is knocking on the door for us to consider him,” Khan adeed.
“If the coach and selectors decide that Amir has to come back, we will have to seek permission from the PCB board of governors before taking a decision on him.”