Karachi: Pakistan’s banned pacer Mohammed Aamer is hoping to be allowed back in international cricket in 2015, when he will complete a minimum five-year ban for his role in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal that shook the game.
The 20-year-old, appearing in his first television interview on Wednesday, insisted he has learnt from his mistakes.
“No one can understand the hurt I go through when I watch the Pakistan team playing anywhere. I want to be with them. But there is nothing I can do now except to keep my chin up and hope for the best. It is a huge punishment to realise that I had the world at my feet and I messed up my life because of one mistake,” the left-arm pacer said.
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“I don’t know what is going to happen but I am targeting a return in 2015. I have nets in my home and I go to the gym. I am keeping myself motivated. I know I can achieve anything with hard work,” he added.
The youngster also asserted that before the spot-fixing scandal, he had never been involved in any kind of corruption.
“Even in 2010 what happened was that I was forced into a trap to avoid an unpleasant situation. Some people see it as greed, may be it was that. But apart from that incident, I played honestly,” he said.
Aamer, however, declined to blame his former captain Salman Butt, who also served a jail sentence for his involvement in the scandal, or anyone else for his predicament.
“It was my mistake… I regret it and I have apologised to my people. But now I want to move on and start a new life,” he said.
“I don’t want to indulge in any blame game or mud-slinging because already the image of Pakistan cricket has been damaged a lot because of this controversy. I think it is time we move on. No one can change anything and I can’t change what I and my family has gone through,” Aamer added.
Aamer is presently serving a five-year ICC ban for his role in the scandal that broke out on Pakistan’s tour to England.
Aamer and teammates, Butt and Mohammed Asif were all banned by the ICC anti-corruption tribunal in early 2011 and in November the same year, they were given different jail sentences by a crown court for cheating and corruption under British laws.
Their bans became applicable from September 2010 when they were first suspended after the fourth Test at Lord’s between Pakistan and England in which Aamer and Asif bowled deliberate no-balls.
Aamer said he wants to make amends for letting his people down.
“I want to do a lot for Pakistan whenever I come back. I know I can give a lot of joy and pride to my countrymen if I get a chance again,” he said.
“Frankly speaking I don’t want to see any other player go through what I have gone through. I died when the police handcuffed me. I have conveyed to the PCB and ICC I am available to them in any manner they want to use me to send out a message to others that corruption does pay,” he added.
The youngster, who completed 50 Test wickets in 14 Tests, said he was happy the ICC was using his videos to educate players in the cricket world and especially in the youth World Cup.
Aamer also denied allegations that he accumulated wealth and purchased property of millions due to his corrupt practices when he was playing. “Whatever is reported in the media is not true. When we won the T20 World Cup in 2009 I earned around Rs 13 million with which I purchased a home and car. I earned in millions from other endorsements and logo sponsorship deals."
“Today cricket pays a lot and players don’t need to fall into any trap.”
He also made it clear that he was not paying anything to his legal team. “They are assisting me and fighting my case on legal aid under British laws. And when I requested for legal aid I had to submit all my bank statements, tax returns and details of assets to seek legal aid so I have nothing to hide from anyone.”
Aamer also admitted that education was necessary for sportspersons. “Today I regret I couldn’t continue my higher education but once I get this ban out of the way I will try to complete my college education, age is on my side.”