London: Mohammad Asif is this week expected to become the second of the three Pakistan cricketers jailed for spot-fixing to be released. Asif will have completed half of his one-year sentence and becomes eligible for release from Canterbury Prison under British law.
The disgraced Pakistan trio - Asif, his fellow fast bowler Mohammad Amir and captain Salman Butt - participated in a betting scam involving the deliberate bowling of no-balls for financial gain during a Lord's Test match between England and Pakistan in 2010.
Asif and Butt were found guilty at Southwark Crown Court in November 2011 of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments. All three lost an appeal that their sentences were "manifestly excessive" to the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, who upheld the sentences later in November and said that widespread corruption could "destroy the game".
Amir, the youngest at 18, pleaded guilty before the trial and was released from a young offenders' institution midway through his six-month sentence earlier this year. Butt will not become eligible for release until next February, when he has served half of his 30-month sentence. Mazhar Majeed, the agent who was accused of setting up the deal, received a 32-month jail term.
Asif is 29 and his Pakistan career could be over unless he overturns a seven-year ban (the last two of which are suspended) imposed by an ICC tribunal in February last year. Butt was banned for 10 years (five of them suspended) and Amir for five years.
Mohammad Haroon, who described himself as "a friend and cricketer" told the AFP news agency that Asif still intended to go through with his appeal against the ICC ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. "Asif has already appealed against the 12-month sentence and he will also appeal against the ICC ban," Haroon said.
Amir has no plans to appeal and has taken part in an anti-corruption video produced by the ICC.