Asif looks to get ban overturned
The lawyer for disgraced Pakistan seamer Mohammad Asif is "reasonably optimistic" his five-year ban for spot-fixing will be overturned at a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing this week.
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London-based barrister Ravi Sukul will fly to Switzerland to front Asif's appeal to CAS on Thursday.
Asif and Pakistan team-mates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were suspended from all forms of cricket by the ICC in February 2011 after they were found guilty of deliberately bowling no-balls - as part of an illegal betting network - during the Lord's Test against England in August 2010.
Sukul has revealed to Press Association Sport that he will, however, attempt to "completely quash" Asif's playing ban in an argument set to focus on the ICC's handling of the case.
Sukul is set to claim the ICC should have waited until after the criminal proceedings against the three players was finalised before delivering their sanctions.
All three were subsequently jailed in November 2011 after they were found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments at a Southwark Crown Court trial in London.
"I will approach the court with an argument that their (the ICC's) procedure was flawed. This will be the basic tenor of what I will say to them," said Sukul.
"I am reasonably optimistic of a favourable outcome in this appeal.
"The appeal has been launched on a legal basis.
"The ICC were in a position they had never been in before. They had never been a position where a cricketer faced criminal proceedings while they (the ICC) were deciding sanctions for a player.
"They opted to hold proceedings before a criminal trial in the UK.
"On common-sense grounds the fact that it happened here in the UK would give legal procedural precedent over the ICC. The ICC decided off its own back to prosecute."
Sukul will be joined in Switzerland by Asif for a potentially important week for the ICC and their fight against spot-fixing.
Butt is also due to have an appeal against his ban heard by CAS a day later on Friday. Both players could, therefore, be freed to make an international return having served just under half of their playing sanctions.
"Quashing the ban completely is what I hope the decision will be," said Sukul, who will only represent Asif.
"If CAS do not hold that view then I will argue that it should be reduced, especially after he has spent time in jail. We would hope that Asif could start playing cricket again soon.
"It might take a few weeks to find out their verdict on the matter. That is the usual process for this body."
Sukul revealed Asif had been keeping fit ahead of the possibility of his ban being lifted and suggested the Pakistan Cricket Board would entertain recalling him.
"He's in training. He has been keeping fit and swimming which I think is the wise thing to do whatever the decision may be," he said.
"I suspect (the PCB) will look at bringing him back on the basis of the skills he has.
"He was second in the world rankings before he was banned. If he can prove that he can return to that level then I am sure the PCB would be interested in allowing him his chance again."
The fixing scandal emerged after an undercover News of the World reporter approached corrupt London-based sports agent Mazhar Majeed in August 2010 pretending to be a wealthy Indian businessman seeking major international cricketers for a tournament.
Majeed, who was jailed for two years and eight months, was secretly filmed accepting £150,000 in cash from the journalist as part of an arrangement to rig games.
Majeed promised the reporter that Asif and Amir would deliver three no-balls at specific points during the Lord's Test between Pakistan and England.
The ICC banned all three players for five years with Butt, who was Pakistan captain at the time, given an extra five years suspended term. Asif was handed a further two-year suspended sentence.
Butt was described by Mr Justice Cooke as the "orchestrator" of the spot-fixing and served seven months of a 30-month prison sentence.
Asif was released from Canterbury Prison in Kent on June 3 last year after he served half of a year-long sentence while Amir spent three months in a young offenders' institution after admitting his charge at a pre-trial hearing.