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    Amir must appeal to ICC to reduce ban: Ashraf

    Lahore: Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Zaka Ashraf has expressed confidence that banned pacer Mohammad Amir could make an early return to international cricket if he appeals to the International Cricket Council (ICC) to reconsider his five-year ban on humanitarian grounds.

    "I think if Amir goes to ICC and appeals to them not now but after some time he might get a sympathetic hearing and ban period could be reduced," Ashraf said on a TV talk show. The 19-year-old Pakistani pacer has served his time in jail for his role in the spot-fixing scandal that hit Pakistan cricket on the tour of England in 2010.

    He returned home earlier this year after being released from a young offenders' institution where he spent three months according to a court ruling given in October last year. But, Amir still has to complete a five year ban imposed on him by anti-corruption tribunal of the ICC early last year.

    Amir, along with team-mates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, has been banned from the game by the ICC after the spot-fixing allegations broke out in England. Ashraf said that the PCB was clear that it would never stand by players involved in corruption but added that in Amir's case there was sympathy for him even in the ICC because of his young age.

    "We have, as per the ICC anti-corruption requirements, appointed a psychologist to have counselling sessions with Amir as part of his reform programme that is necessary under ICC regulations," Ashraf said.

    "We are hoping that Amir would have learnt his lesson from what happened to him. He has served his time in jail. As far as his ban is concerned he has to appeal to the ICC directly and plead to them to review his five year ban period," the PCB chief said.

    Ashraf said that personally he felt sad that the spot-fixing scandal had hit Pakistan cricket in the first place but also satisfied that proper action was taken against the culprits. "What these players did is unacceptable. But as far as Amir is concerned if he is willing to reform himself then anything can happen in future for him," he said.