Mohammad Asif to train with Norwegian club
One of the three perpetrators found guilty, in what was perhaps the biggest case of match-fixing to have defaced Pakistan cricket in recent times, Mohammad Asif has found a way to resurrect his cricketing career after serving a five-year suspension from the game. The Pakistani is gearing up to play for Christiana Cricket Club in Oslo in an effort to be fit and the ready for the upcoming season of domestic cricket in Pakistan which is scheduled to start in September.
In 2011, Asif along with then test captain Salman Butt and 18-year-old Mohammad Amir were held accountable by the ICC on charges of corruption. This came after a series of intentional and deliberate no-balls were bowled by the three pacers against England at Lord's Cricket Ground. Fellow perpetrator Mohammad Amir was recently given a chance at redemption after he was included in the Pakistan squad for the team's tour of England which begins next month.
In addition to the five-year ban he received from the Cricket Council, Amir was also handed a prison term of six months which he served in England after a trial at Southwark County Court.
In an interview to Cricinfo, Asif said, “One of my friends called me to ask me to come. There's good weather for training.” So far, his objective seems to be quite clear. His main focus, as he puts it, is to return to form in time for his country's domestic cricket season. From there, he might have a chance at regaining his position in the first team too. According to reliable local sources, he is targeting a place in the squad for Pakistan's tours to New Zealand and Australia.
“Hopefully I will do well in Pakistan and get selected for the national team for the tours to New Zealand and Australia,” he told Cricinfo.
When asked for his opinion on former teammate Amir's return to international cricket, Asif expressed nothing but support for the youngster. “I’m happy for him, and for my team it’s a big tour in England. England are playing well now, but we’ve got a good bowling side – better than Sri Lanka’s – so hopefully Amir, Yasir Shah and Wahab Riaz will give England a time,” he added.
Mixed reaction to Asif’s return
Reaction to his return has been generally mixed with support pouring out from people of his country. Needless to say, the bowler has his work cut out for him. Returning to regular play after this long a period of suspension is getting tougher by the day.
Asif's ban ended at the end of Pakistan's domestic cricket season last year and since he became eligible to play, he made his List-A return in the National One Day Cup. He had a good spell in the games, bagging seven wickets from as many games along with maintaining a strike rate of 43. this performance was not, however, enough to earn him a spot in the high-paying and glamorous Pakistan Super League, the domestic T20 League of the country.
“My dream is to make a comeback and play for three to four years,” he has been quoted saying. “I want to play a good standard of cricket again – that’s my dream.”
Asif was in the prime of his career at the time he got mixed up with the wrong crowd which ended in causing a deadlock to what seemed to be a promising bowling option for Pakistan.
Asif has so far played 23 Tests, 38 One-Day Internationals and 11 T20Is for Pakistan and has 165 wickets to his name across formats.