sport

Asif fears the worst

Mohammad Asif's lawyer has admitted the banned seamer fears his career is over despite an appeal hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Asif was one of three Pakistan players banned by the International Cricket Council after being found guilty of fraudulently bowling no-balls - as part of a betting scam - during the Lord's Test against England in August 2010.

The 30-year-old has repeatedly denied he was part of any such plan before appealing his five-year playing ban, handed down two years ago, to the CAS on Thursday.

Salman Butt, who was Pakistan captain at the time, attended his own CAS hearing on Friday. The third player, teenage quick Mohammad Amir, has opted not to contest his suspension.

Asif's CAS hearing in Lausanne, Switzerland lasted eight-and-a-half hours during which he appeared before a three-man tribunal headed by International Rugby Board judicial officer Graeme Mew.

A decision is due within a month and while the bowler's London-based barrister Ravi Sukul, who attended the hearing but was unable to give detail of the proceedings under a CAS order, remained optimistic he revealed his client had become anxious about his future.

Asked if Asif feared his international career could be over, he said: "That would be right. Something about that came up (in the hearing).

"It's natural I think that he would feel this way. He wants to play cricket again."

The CAS appeal is set to be Asif's final point of appeal to his playing ban and Sukul revealed the 23-Test right-armer, a lithe figure during his playing days, had visibly lost weight in the lead up to the hearing.

"He is still fit although he has lost a bit of weight. If you see him now from how he was on the day of the Lord's Test he is a lot slimmer," he said.

"I think quietly he has been worried about how this will all go. He remains, as do we, that there will be a hopeful outcome.

"Mohammad wasn't deliriously happy afterwards but he was comfortable with the way the proceedings went.

"He was labouring under the effects of the ban as he has been doing so for many months. It was almost two years to the day since the ICC handed down the ban."

Butt, who has an added five-year suspended sentence on his playing ban, emerged from today's hearing hopeful he could soon resume his career.

"I am grateful to the CAS that they have allowed me this opportunity to appeal this sentence," the 28-year-old said in a statement.

"Since September 2010, until now, I have not been able to play any meaningful game of cricket: to coach or to even be involved in the administration of the game.

"I love cricket: it is something that runs through me in my veins and my blood. I await the decision of the CAS. It means so much to me. I truly pray that they can change it for me by reducing the sentence."

All three players have served half of their respective five-year ban, after they were back-dated to September 2010, with Asif having a further two years suspended.

Asif is also due to appeal his criminal conviction after he spent half of a year-long sentence in Canterbury Prison before his release on June 3 last year.

The three Pakistan players were found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments at a Southwark Crown Court trial in December 2011.

Sukul revealed earlier this week that the ICC's decision to hand down their sanction before the criminal case was heard would form a part of his argument at his hearing.

Asif's assertions that he was not involved in the scam were also to play a key role in the appeal.

The judge at the players' criminal trial, Justice Cooke, had said there was no evidence that Asif had taken part in fixing before the Lord's match but added: "It is hard to see how this could be an isolated occurrence for you."

Justice Cook also labelled Butt, who served seven months of a 30-month sentence, as the "orchestrator" of the scam.

A decision on Butt's hearing is also due to be made in the next three to four weeks.