LAHORE: 3 Pakistan Test cricketers suspended over allegations of spot-fixing left Tuesday for Qatar to appear at an international tribunal that could ban them from the game.
An International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-corruption tribunal headed by Michael Beloff QC will hear the case in Doha from January 6-11.
The two other members of the tribunal are Albie Sachs of South Africa and Sharad Rao of Kenya.
Former Test captain Salman Butt, and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, were suspended by the ICC in September following spot-fixing allegations against them during the Lord’s Test against England a month earlier.
The suspension followed a sting operation by Britain’s News of the World claiming that several Pakistani players took money from a bookmaker to bowl deliberate no-balls and bat maiden overs.
Butt and Amir had their appeals against suspension rejected in October, while Asif withdrew an initial appeal.
Butt’s appeal to postpone the hearing was also rejected last month.
Butt has changed at least three lawyers since his suspension, including Pakistan’s former law minister Khalid Ranjha. He will now be represented by London-based lawyer Yasin Patel during Doha hearing.
Butt criticized the ICC for victimizing Pakistan cricketers when his appeal was rejected, while Asif has made no statement since the suspension.
Meanwhile, Asif is represented by by Allan Cameron, brother of British Prime Minister David Cameron, while Amir’s lawyer is Shahid Karim from Pakistan.
Amir, who has taken 51 wickets in 14 Test matches with his left-arm fast bowling, was confident he would be exonerated. Talking to reporters at Lahore airport, Amir said his priority was to clear his name.
“My lawyer has prepared the case extensively and I hope that I will be cleared,” said Amir, who is accused of delivering deliberate no-balls during the Lord’s Test for money – a charge he has denied.
“This is the toughest period of my life but I am confident that it will be over and I will be playing for Pakistan soon,” said Amir.
Punishments the players face range from a five-year suspension to life bans.
Pakistan’s Twenty20 and one-day captain Shahid Afridi will join coach Waqar Younis as witnesses at the request of the ICC during the tribunal.
Younis told the ICC’s code of commission he was surprised when Amir bowled a huge front-foot no-ball, even asking the fast bowler “what the hell was that” during the break.
Afridi said when he met the trio at a hotel room in London he thought they were guilty. Afridi also told reporters on Monday the ICC had lot of important information on the case, but he ill feelings toward his former teammates.