London: Mohammad Amir, the Pakistan fast bowler, has been released from Portland Young Offenders Institution in Dorset after serving half of a six-month sentence for his part in a spot-fixing scam.
Amir is expected to spend the next few weeks in London before returning to his native Pakistan. He will meet his lawyers to draw up an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the five-year ban imposed on him by the International Cricket Council.
He has a visa to stay in England until the end of March and there is no suggestion that he risks the threat of deportation.
An ICC tribunal banned Amir for five years in February last year, his team-mate Mohammad Asif was given a seven-year ban, with two years suspended, and the captain, Salman Butt, was banned for ten years, five suspended. Shortly after the decision Amir announced his intent to appeal the decision to the CAS, an arbitration body set up to settle disputes relating to sport.
Amir and his two team-mates were sentenced in November 2011 at Southwark Crown Court of conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat at gambling after a plot was uncovered in a News of the World sting operation to bowl deliberate no-balls in a Test against England in 2010. Amir and Butt lost an appeal against the sentence in November in the Court of Appeal in London.
The judge, Mr Justice Cooke, ruled at Southwark Crown Court that the affair was "so serious that only imprisonment will suffice". Butt was sentenced to two and a half years, Asif was jailed for one year, and Amir for six months. Mazhar Majeed, the players' agent, received a sentence of two years eight months. Under the terms of UK law, all were eligible for release after serving half their sentences.
Majeed had boasted to undercover reporters that he could arrange for Pakistan cricketers to rig elements of games for money. He was surreptitiously filmed accepting £150,000 in cash from a journalist.
Mr Justice Cooke said: "'It's not cricket' was an adage. It is the insidious effect of your actions on professional cricket and the followers of it which make the offences so serious."
Amir apologised through his lawyer for his involvement in spot-fixing, stating: "I want to apologise to all in Pakistan and all others to whom cricket is important. I did the wrong thing. I was trapped, because of my stupidity. I panicked."
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said in the Court of Appeal that the corruption had been "carefully prepared" and the cricketers had betrayed their team, their country, their sport and the "followers of the game throughout the world". Lord Judge accepted that Amir's guilty plea should be counted in his favour.
Amir seemed to contravene his playing ban last summer by appearing for Addington 1743 Cricket Club in the Surrey League. He insisted that he had been told it was only a friendly and that he had made an innocent mistake. It was later reported that the ICC had decided to let Amir off with a warning.