LAHORE - The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will allow former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and pace bowler Mohammad Asif to play the domestic one-day cup in 2016.
The decision has been taken with both players about to complete their rehabilitation in February 2016.
"We have decided to allow them to play the one-day cup starting after the ongoing first-class tournament in January," a PCB spokesman told ESPNcricinfo. "By the end of Quaid-e-Azam trophy they would have finished all of their rehab programmes and they will be free to resume their domestic cricket. The [one-day] tournament is slotted in the second week of the January."
The International Cricket Council‘s five-year bans on both players ended in September this year, but the long road back for the players was under heavy restrictions. The pair was under strict monitoring for months before being allowed to play cricket again.
After the ICC lifted its restriction, they were included as non-executive 17th grade employees by Water and Power Development Authority. Both of them have been travelling with the team but have not played any cricket yet.
Butt and Asif were banned for spot-fixing during Pakistan‘s tour of England in 2010, particularly for bowling deliberate no-balls by pre-arrangement during the fourth test at Lord‘s.
Both have served jail sentences in Britain and were given minimum five-year bans by an ICC tribunal. Butt was also given a two-year suspended sentence.
A third player, fast bowler Mohammad Amir, was also banned until September but the chairman of ICC‘s anti-corruption unit exercised his discretion to give him an early reprieve in January.After that, Amir was allowed to play domestic cricket from January and now he is playing for Chittagong Vikings in the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
Earlier on Thursday, PCB Chairman Shehryar Khan and Coach Waqar Younis expressed willingness to include Amir in the national squad.
Though the restriction has been lifted, but serious opposition from officials and hostility from Pakistan‘s cricket-obsessed fans will mean the road to redemption will be a long one for the tainted players.