The International Cricket Council (ICC) is looking into the possibility of relaxing the conditions of Mohammad Amir's five-year ban for spot-fixing so that he can, potentially, return to the game as soon as his ban ends, on September 2, 2015.
A five-member committee set up after the ICC's annual general meeting in London this weekend will explore the option of allowing Amir to begin training at Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) facilities – which he is currently not permitted to do until his ban ends – from early 2015.
The idea behind this, The National understands, is that Amir can be ready to return as soon as his ban ends, instead of beginning training after it ends and delaying any potential return by however much time it takes him to be ready.
Amir will be 23 when he is allowed to play again, young enough still, but with five years of inactivity behind him. If he is allowed to train under professional supervision, it will help ease some of the rustiness of those five years.
This is only one of the recommendations the committee will look into and there is no timeline for when the recommendation will be made – or a guarantee that it will at all.
But it represents a concession and reward nonetheless for Amir, who was 18 at the time he was found guilty and the youngest of the three Pakistan players banned by the ICC (the trio served prison sentences as well after being convicted in a London court for the same offences).
Despite pleading not guilty to the ICC tribunal that eventually banned him, Amir did plead guilty in court in London and has since given details of what he did in various interviews. He has also cooperated with the ICC since, appearing in a video used to educate players about the dangers of corruption.
It is also the first concrete sign that world cricket recognises and believes that Amir could and perhaps should be allowed to return to the game: the committee – which does not include anyone from the PCB – is made up by members from the England and Wales Cricket Board, Zimbabwe Cricket and Cricket Australia among others.
The subject came up during a special meeting on anti-corruption; the PCB interim chairman Najam Sethi, who had announced before he left for London that he would push for a ban reduction, is believed to have asked members to take into account Amir's age, his guilty plea and his cooperation and ease the penalty.
A reduction was not possible as a five-year penalty is the minimum sentence under the ICC code for such offences. But members discussed the proposal and agreed on looking into relaxing other conditions.
Any recommendation, however, is likely to stress that in the last six to eight months of his ban, Amir can still not train alongside the national cricket team, or play any competitive cricket organised under the PCB. The nature of what facilities and under what supervision he can train at will only emerge once the recommendation is finalised.
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