Mohammad Asif aims to clear his name

First published in Sport

A Pakistan cricketer jailed for his part in a fixing scam says he hopes to clear his name and return to the sport after being freed from prison in Kent.

Mohammad Asif, 29, the former world number two Test bowler, was freed from Canterbury Prison on Thursday after serving half of his 12-month sentence.

He continues to protest his innocence, and is appealing against his conviction for bowling deliberate no-balls in the 2010 Lord's Test against England.

In his first interview since being released, he told Pakistan's Geo TV: "I am hopeful that I will come out of the problem that I found myself in unwittingly."

Asif said he had little chance to practise his cricket skills in prison, but kept himself fit by playing badminton and football, and by working out in the gym.

Asked if he would be able to return to first-class cricket, he said: "A fish will never forget how to swim. A bowler doesn't forget how to bowl well. I have maintained fitness and I will try my best to keep up with this level of fitness.

"I am thankful to all those who have prayed for me. I would like to be back in the ground playing and I hope my fans will soon see me back."

Asif was one of three Pakistan cricketers who received custodial sentences at London's Southwark Crown Court in November over a scandal that rocked world sport.

Ex-Test captain Salman Butt, 27, was jailed for two and a half years for his role as the "orchestrator" of the spot-fixing plot. Mohammad Amir, 19, who had been tipped to become one of the all-time great fast bowlers, was released from Portland Prison in Dorset in February after serving half of his six-month sentence.

All three players are serving five-year bans from cricket imposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

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