KARACHI: Pakistan's former bowling great Wasim Akram swung behind Mohammad Aamer on Thursday, saying he deserves to be forgiven and allowed back into international cricket after serving a ban for spot-fixing.
"I think we should move on in Aamer's case, forgive him as he has served his punishment for the mistake he committed and allow the youngster another chance," Wasim told AFP.
The 19-year-old Aamer was released from a British jail after serving half of his six-month sentence for spot-fixing at the Lord's Test against England in 2010.
Aamer bowled deliberate no-balls, together with his new-ball partner Mohammad Asif. Pakistan's then captain Salman Butt and agent Mazhar Majeed were found guilty of contriving the no-balls in exchange for cash.
Butt and Asif are still serving 30- and 12-month jail terms respectively. The International Cricket Council (ICC) also banned the three players for a minimum of five years.
In his first interview since his release, which was broadcast last week, Aamer accused Butt of tricking him into taking part in the scandal.
"As a cricket-loving nation we must forgive him (Aamer). He has done his time and once he serves his ban he should be allowed back into international cricket as he is one of the most talented bowlers," said Wasim.
Aamer was likened to Wasim during the 2010 England tour and Wasim himself admitted Aamer was a better bowler than he was aged 19.
"Lots of people including Imran Khan praised his talent and he was the hottest property in international cricket until he committed that mistake," said Wasim, who played 104 Tests and 352 one-dayers for Pakistan.
Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid, who retired from international cricket this month, also backed Aamer's return. But England's Kevin Pietersen said no player caught spot-fixing should be allowed to play again.
"If Pakistan is fine, the ICC is fine, then it doesn't matter what others say. Aamer should play once he serves his ban," said Wasim.
The Pakistan Cricket Board said this month that they would liaise with the ICC to start a rehabilitation process for Aamer and consider him for selection once he completes his ban.