Pakistan paceman Irfan raring to return after ban
REUTERS - Mohammad Irfan expects to avoid a backlash from Pakistan fans after the paceman served a six-month ban for failing to disclose approaches made by bookmakers during a domestic Twenty20 tournament and is happy for the chance to resume his career.
The 35-year-old, who played for Islamabad United in the UAE-based 2017 Pakistan Super League (PSL), was fined and banned for a year -- six months of which were suspended -- as part of a probe by the country's cricket board (PCB).
The PCB was investigating whether an international betting syndicate tried to influence PSL matches and also handed out five-year bans to batsmen Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif as part of the spot-fixing 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," Irfan told cricket website ESPN Cricinfo. "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 (the bookies) straightaway.
"...I am happy that I am back after a minor ban and still have a chance to revive myself."
The giant Irfan, who has played four tests, 60 one-day internationals and 20 Twenty20 internationals, said the death of his parents had clouded his judgement and led to his delay in reporting the approaches to the PCB.
"The last six months have been very tough on me. In fact, it felt like six years, during which I incurred great losses," Irfan said.
"Indeed, it was my mistake, and I admitted it instantly, but there was no fixing allegations against me. But, in all this, I am thankful the situation wasn't any worse.
"I was actually working in my private gym at home to keep myself fit. But I had been training privately, so I hope things will go well. These six months, I think I can view it as a rest period which will help me rejuvenate."
Irfan believes the ban helped him rest his body and that he was ready for the rigours of international cricket.
"In the last six months, I have been resting with no workload and that has really helped me," Irfan said.
"I got time to take a break from cricket; otherwise, the early part of my career, I was playing a lot. Due to my height and body structure, I get tired early, and need more time for recovery."
(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O'Brien)