Tainted Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir will resume his international cricket career in New Zealand as immigration officials in Wellington on Thursday granted him a visa following a five-year ban and jail time for indulging in spot-fixing during the 2010 tour of England.
The 23-year-old Amir will be travelling with the Pakistan team to play in one-day and Twenty20 series against. Amir completed a five-year ban from international cricket in September and served six months of a three-year prison sentence for taking bribes to bowl no balls at specified moments in a Test match against England at Lord’s in 2010.
Reports said New Zealand immigration officials considered withholding Amir’s visa on character grounds, but decided to allow him to enter the country, taking into account his completed suspension and support for him from the Pakistan and New Zealand cricket boards.
New Zealand’s immigration authority, on its website, stated: “People with criminal convictions or who have provided false or misleading information will not be granted a visa unless a character waiver is granted.
“In the case of character waivers, each application is considered on its individual merits and taking into account, for example, the seriousness of an offence, number of offences and how long ago the event/s occurred.”
Picked in the squad last week for the New Zealand tour despite some resentment by fellow players, Amir’s comeback to international cricket was dependent on him getting a visa.
Amir last appeared for the national team in a Test against England at Lord’s in August 2010 before the scandal came to the fore. Amir and two other players – captain Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif – were suspended by the International Cricket Council after the Test for taking money to bowl predetermined no-balls in a spot-fixing scam.
The trio was than banned in February 2011 for five years for spot-fixing by the anti-corruption tribunal of the ICC and also served varying jail terms for corruption and cheating in the United Kingdom. Their bans expired in September last year and the ICC, under a special clause of its anti-corruption code, allowed relaxation to Amir to resume playing domestic cricket in early 2015.