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Pakistan rules out Butt, Asif early return

LAHORE: Pakistan on Friday ruled out an early return to international cricket for the disgraced trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif ahead of the imminent expiry of their spot-fixing bans.

The players are eligible 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 Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) chief selector Haroon Rasheed effectively ruled out their return against England in October or in a proposed series with India, both in the United Arab Emirates.

“No time frame can be given by the selection committee at this point in time with regards to their future involvement in cricket at any level until and unless proper policy guidelines are issued by PCB,” Rasheed told AFP.

In February 2011 an anti-corruption tribunal of the International Cricket Council (ICC) imposed a ban of five years on 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 in 2010.

Amir has already made a steady, if unspectacular, return to domestic cricket and he, Butt and Asif have all expressed a desire to eventually return to the national side.

But Rasheed, a former middle-order batsman, said that could take some time.

“After having been out of cricket for the last five years, one cannot judge them merely on some good performances in (a) couple of matches,” he said.

“The PCB has already issued a statement in this regard and is waiting for a detailed reply from (the) ICC on Butt and Asif in this regard before a policy on the selection or participation in the domestic cricket of these players is formulated.”

Amir was cleared to play domestic matches in January this year after the ICC amended its code of conduct which allowed banned players to feature in home matches six months prior to end of their punishment.

Butt and Asif were due to feature for Lahore and Sialkot respectively in the National Twenty20 event starting from September 1 but their participation has still to be cleared by the PCB.

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