KARACHI: Teenage Pakistani paceman Mohammad Amir faces an uncertain future following his release from jail this week after serving half of a six-month-sentence for his role in a spot-fixing scandal.
The 19-year-old's burgeoning career was cut short when he pleaded guilty to charges of corruption in a scandal that surfaced in August 2010 and rocked the sporting world.
Amir, once considered the hottest property in international cricket after a rapid rise from village boy to famed bowler, now knows nothing about what life has in store for him.
He emerged on the scene in 2009, regarded as a better left-arm paceman than the legendary Wasim Akram at the same age.
With 51 wickets in just 14 Tests, Amir was on the verge of getting the ICC emerging player award in 2010 — but his career and life then derailed.
The charges were related to bowling deliberate no-balls by Amir and pace partner Mohammad Asif in a Lord's Test against England, contrived with then captain Salman Butt and trio's agent Mazhar Majeed in return for big money.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) banned the trio for a minimum of five years while a UK court last year sent Amir to jail for six months, Asif for 12, Butt for 30 and Majeed for 32.
That scandal not only destroyed three top class careers but also shook the cricket world which demanded stricter penalties and measures to curb corruption, with many people feeling sympathy for the young Amir.
As soon as Amir was released from prison on Wednesday, speculation started about whether his career can be reignited.
Amir's former lawyer, Shahid Karim, believes the paceman can appeal against the ICC ban in the Switzerland based Court of Arbitration for Sports, however some experts believe his pleading guilty means he cannot.
Former Pakistan paceman Waqar Younis backed a reduction in the ban but there is no such provision in the ICC code in which the minimum penalty is a five-year-ban.
Former England captain Mike Brearley, also part of ICC's Task Team on Pakistan, showed sympathy for Amir.
“We also need to recognise that the pressure put on the young player by criminal bookies or their agents, or by their corrupt team-mates, can be appalling...some of those involved might need to be treated with compassion, especially if they admit their guilt,” Brearley said last year.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) legal adviser Taffazul Rizvi said Amir will have to undergo a rehabilitation programme under ICC's Anti-Corruption and Safety Unit (ACSU).
“Under the ICC anti-corruption code a convicted player undergoes an official education session to the reasonable satisfaction of ACSU programme during his period of ineligibility, in Amir's case it is five years,” Rizvi told AFP.
“Further Amir has to agree to such additional reasonable and proportionate monitoring procedures and requirements as the ACSU may reasonably consider necessary.
“PCB and ICC are on the same page in this matter and are already in contact over the official anti-corruption education session,” said Rizvi.
Amir's mentor, Asif Bajwa, remained optimistic.
“I don't think he has an uncertain future,” said Bajwa. “I will take Amir under my wing and educate him and there will be same grounds, same matches and same people who will accept Amir.
“Amir will be back.”