Mohammad Asif appeals seven-year match fixing ban

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Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Asif began his appeal at world sport’s highest court yesterday to overturn his ban for a betting scam fix in a Test against England.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) scheduled a day-long hearing for Asif to challenge a seven-year ban imposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in February 2011. CAS said the three-man arbitration panel is expected to give its verdict within several weeks.

Asif and two Pakistan team-mates were jailed after being convicted in an English criminal trial of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments. Asif was found to have deliberately bowled a no-ball at a prearranged time in the August 2010 match. The scam was discovered by a British newspaper, which paid a reported £150,000 pounds to the players’ agent in a sting operation.

Pakistan’s then-captain, Salman Butt, appeals against his ten-year ban from all cricket today. Five years of Butt’s sanction were deferred by the ICC and Asif had two years suspended.

Asif, now aged 30, served six months of a one-year prison sentence and was released last May. When filing the appeal to CAS, his lawyers said the ICC’s ruling was “not only flawed, it could also be unlawful”.

“The ICC disciplinary tribunal breached its own procedures, and in other ways infringed fundamental human rights to which Mohammad Asif is ­entitled,” London-based firm 
SJS Solicitors said last year.

Asif’s case is being decided by CAS panel members: Canadian lawyer Graeme Mew, Anglo-Belgian Romano Subiotto and English judge Robert Reid.

Mohammad Amir was the third Pakistan player involved in the conspiracy. Amir was 18 when the match was played, and was banned by the ICC for five years. He served three months of a six-month sentence at a young offenders’ institution.

Meanwhile, England are wary of the threat posed by Ross Taylor even though the former New Zealand captain is taking his first tentative steps back into the fold.

Taylor’s breakdown of communications with Kiwi coach Mike Hesson, after being stripped of the captaincy last year, has been well-documented. But, after missing New Zealand’s tour of South Africa, the batsman is in the squad again for three Twenty20s – the first is tomorrow – and three one-day internationals.

Taylor was back at nets with his international team-mates yesterday, including his successor as captain, Brendon McCullum, for the first time in months. There was no sign of frostiness in the camp and Taylor even had time for a quick chat with Hesson at Eden Park.

However the 28-year-old is welcomed back and England are well aware of his match-winning potential. Taylor’s near opposite number, Eoin Morgan, made that clear yesterday.

“He is a big danger, a very successful one-day and Twenty20 cricketer and someone we look to as a possible threat in this ­series,” said the Irishman.

As for Taylor, it appears to be a case of so far, so good. “I can’t speak for anyone else, I can only say what I see myself and I haven’t seen anything untoward towards me,” he said, of his welcome back to the squad.