Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar extended support on Sunday for Salman Butt, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Amir saying he doesn’t see why the cricketers should not get a chance to redeem themselves.
“People deserve a second chance and, as a human, I don’t want to give up on another human being,” said 40-year-old Akhtar, according to Gulf News.
“They have made a mistake and have served their sentence so I can forgive them. I hope they have learnt their lesson, and now I really want them to go out there and prove once again that they are good people.”
Read: Afridi advises PCB against making hasty decisions regarding return of tainted trio
The blemished sportsmen were found guilty of spot-fixing in 2010 and received five-year bans from the sport, were also charged fines and handed over varying prison sentences.
Their ban will expire on September 1, however, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has decreed that the trio can only play club cricket for now and may return to first class or international cricket after February 28 after having completed the six-month rehabilitation program.
Read: One step too far
Akhtar, who was the first bowler to cross the 100 miles per hour barrier, said the trio would enhance the current Pakistan squad because they have so much to prove.
“They are indebted to Pakistan and every day they play for their country they will carry that burden until the minute they retire,” he said.
“They have done something wrong, very wrong, but now to wash that one off they will go out and play at their optimum and bring glory back to Pakistan. That way people will forgive and forget," he added.
Further, the pacer said, "There will be a million judging eyes and stigma upon them, it’s not going to go away, so they have to try and make it fade away.”
Akhtar, who took more than 400 international wickets in a 14-year career spanning from 1997 to 2011, said the three players would feel absolved of their sins if they could help the team win next year’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup in India.
Read: The return of Butt and Asif — no easy fix
“The perfect apology for me would be if they went on and won the T20 World Cup. If they want to apologise don’t say it verbally, bring the World Cup back from India, or perform at the best of your ability and bring laurels back to Pakistan, and we will forgive you.”
The pacer also addressed the question of the hour that is, if the trio still had what it takes to make the Pakistan squad.
“Age is no factor nowadays depending on how you train. Asif has a good three years left in him, Amir could have got to 250 or 300 wickets if it wasn’t for the ban. I really want him to grow up, mature and get serious help, get a serious shrink, and serious advisors, and go out to perform to the best of his ability.
“Amir has six or seven years to go out and have a bold time for Pakistan.”
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