Tainted pacer Muhammad Aamir on Friday returned to the Pakistan cricket squad for the limited-overs away series against New Zealand, completing a cycle of redemption following his spectacular fall from grace in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal.
Aamir, who served a five-year ban and jail time for indulging in spot-fixing during the 2010 tour of England, was expected to make the squad after being brought back into the national camp despite some resentment by fellow players.
“We have picked Aamir in the touring squads for the internationals in New Zealand because he has done lot of hard work and shown intent to do well for Pakistan since returning to domestic cricket last year,” chief selector Haroon Rasheed said.
But Aamir’s comeback to international cricket remains dependent on him getting a visa and clearance to tour New Zealand, Haroon said.
“If there are problems with travel documents and Aamir can’t tour than Muhammad Irfan will replace him in the T20 squad. Irfan is not originally selected in the T20 squad because we want to give him a short break from the game,” Haroon said.
Aamir, 23, last appeared for the national team in a Test against England at Lord’s in August 2010 before the scandal came to the fore.
Aamir 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 Aamir to resume playing domestic cricket in early 2015.
The left-arm pacer was just 18 and had appeared in 14 Tests, 15 ODIs and 18 T20 internationals when he played in the Lord’s Test. It remains to be seen whether he would be able to reproduce the same form and talent he showcased five years back.
Haroon also announced the comeback of experienced pace bowler Umar Gul to the T20 squad.
Gul, 31, was recalled after a string of impressive performances in domestic first class cricket this season, triumphing over fitness issues that had derailed his Pakistan career in the last two years.
Gul last played a T20 against Bangladesh in last April but before that had struggled with a knee problem and lost the confidence of the national selectors.
“We felt he is ready to come back to international cricket that is why we have just included him in the T20 squad,” Haroon said.
The seasoned pacer has taken 163 Tests, 173 ODI and 83 T20 wickets.
The chief selector also made it clear that while selecting the T20 squad importance was given to players who were utility players.