Pakistan coach backs Amir's return to international cricket

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis backs Mohammad Amir's return to international cricket after serving a five-year suspension for spot-fixing.

Amir was allowed last January to play domestic cricket, and has been free since September, when his international ban ended, to play anywhere.

"He (Amir) has served his punishment and he deserves to come back in the (cricketing) community and enhance his profession," Younis said in the eastern city of Lahore on Thursday.

Amir deliberately bowled two no-balls in a test against England at Lord's in 2010, pleaded guilty, and served three months in a young offender institution in England.

The other teammates in the scandal, captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, had their bans also lifted in September. All three are going through the Pakistan Cricket Board's rehabilitation program, which includes anti-corruption lectures to young players.

Unlike the much older Butt and Asif, the 23-year-old Amir has been regaining form.

In Bangladesh's Twenty20 league, the left-arm fast bowler has taken nine wickets in seven matches for Chittagong Vikings, and he has impressed Younis.

"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," Younis said.

Younis had a detailed discussion on Amir's future with PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan on Thursday, and said "we are all on the same page" about his future in international cricket.

Khan said he's also considering Amir's return to international cricket, but needs to sit with the national team and talk to them first. Not everyone seems to be happy to see Amir back playing. Pakistan allrounder Mohammad Hafeez reportedly turned down an offer to play for Chittagong Vikings as he felt uncomfortable to share the dressing room with Amir.

"(Amir) has performed well over the last four-five months, and is knocking on the door for us to consider him," Khan said. "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."