KARACHI – Pakistan fast bowler M Asif on Friday said there had been no evidence for his conviction in Britain for corruption and spot-fixing, a day after he was released following six months in prison. “I spent the six months under difficult circumstances,” Asif told a Pakistani channel in London, in his first public remarks since being freed from Canterbury jail on Thursday after serving half his 12-month prison term. “But despite the difficulties, I kept my fitness and I am thankful to my fans and family for supporting me during this difficult phase,” he said.
The 29-year-old was jailed by a London court in November after being found guilty of conspiring to cheat and conspiring to accept corrupt payments over deliberate no-balls during the Lord’s Test against England in August 2010. Team-mate M Aamir was released in February, while former Test captain Salman Butt is still serving his 30-month term in the same prison from which Asif was released. The International Cricket Council (ICC) separately banned the trio from playing all cricket for five years. “I was shocked when I was handed that 12-month jail term, and when they termed me guilty I was very surprised because there was no evidence against me,” said Asif. He expressed hope that his lawyer, Ravi Sukul, can overturn the ICC ban. “I am fitter than before because I was using the gym and although I didn’t get to play much cricket, I played badminton and football,” said Asif, confident he could still bowl as well as ever. “You don’t tell a fish how to swim, so I have not forgot how to bowl.” Once considered a fast-rising talent, Asif twice failed dope tests, in 2006 and 2008, the second during the inaugural Indian Premier League season which ended in one-year ban. He was also detained in Dubai for 19 days in June 2008 for possession of a banned drug.