I was tricked into spot-fixing – Mohammad Amir
Amir, how have you been coping with this very difficult period in your life?
It’s a very difficult time. I’m aware of that but right now I’m carrying on because I’m receiving a great deal of support from my family, and especially from my Sir (Asif Bajwa). I have support.
Good people are boosting my morale and giving me courage and it is a very good thing for me that I have good people with me at this time boosting my morale.
You spent time in prison, how were you treated? How did the guards treat you?
Everybody knows that prison is not a good place for anyone and nobody would feel proud to be there. But I’d like to mention that I was treated really well in there.
Let’s go back now to the village where you’re from, you’re from Changa Bangyaal, a couple of hours outside of Rawalpindi. Tell us a little bit about the village, about your family, and how you first came to be interested in cricket?
I come from a village, Changa Bangyaal. It is a very beautiful village. I am from a poor family. Right from the beginning I always had a great deal of love for cricket.
Although I was good at my studies, I also thought to myself that I should play cricket as well. And when the cricket team that consisted of the boys from our village used to play, I was able to play with the team that had older players.
They never allowed anyone else who was younger apart from me, and that was because they considered me to be good.
After this they took me to Rawalpindi. I was delighted. They introduced me to Sir. It was nets time, Sir was practising. They said to him this is Amir and introduced us.
Luckily he was batting in the net. He asked them to give me the ball. I didn’t understand what the seam was; it was a very heavy ball. Since I had started, I had only ever played with a tennis ball. I’d never had a hard ball in my hands before.
If I remember correctly I asked him about the seam. He explained the seam to me. Then when he batted and I bowled he said I was good, very good. Despite me being so young and the ball being so heavy he was impressed and said “fine, I’ll have him.”
The academy also had a hostel and a school so I could do everything there. I said I was ready and would stay. I was happy as it gave me a possibility for my greatest dream to come true.
Because I always had this dream that I wanted to play cricket, I wanted to play cricket. And I even left home to play cricket.
How important was Asif Bajwa in your development; he became a mentor and a bit of a father figure to you?
You could say that he is like a father to me. He has been both my teacher and my mentor. And with Allah’s grace he will always remain so.
I respect him and always will for playing a huge role in my life. I will never forget this and even now in this difficult period when lots of people desert you, he has continued to support me from the first day until now in exactly the same way as before.
And even in your rehabilitation now he has continued to play a role?
Absolutely, absolutely. He told me during the last few days, he rang me and told me that he has installed nets on the roof, and he said once you are back I’ll do net practice with you. This is the kind of thing he is doing.
It wasn’t all straightforward though. You had dengue fever and you suffered from two stress fractures of the back, eventually you got picked for Pakistan for the first time, tell me what it felt like when you got the sweater and the cap?
I was full of joy inside but at the same time wondered whether my dream was real. I couldn’t quite come to terms with it because when you’re so happy you can’t quite come to terms with reality.
Then suddenly Sir rang me and he told me that my name was included in the team and that he was delighted for me. He told me he was going to come to the Academy straight away and that he was going to give me a big hug.
The phone was red hot then and the next day was ever more joyful because they asked me to come to the National Academy for the team’s training camp.
When I went there I couldn’t wait for my kit, wondering what name and what number would be on the back. We got it all in the evening. First of alI, I left all the training kit untouched because I wanted to see my coloured clothing. I saw Amir was written on it. I literally couldn’t believe that Amir was written on it and that my number was number 90.
I couldn’t believe it was actually Pakistan’s kit and that it had Amir written on the back. Then I went up to the mirror wearing it like that, touching the collars, and checking how well the shirt fitted and if it was too loose or not and how it suited me, and then I turned around to see if the name looked right or not.
At that time I really felt like throwing myself in submission before Allah and no matter how much I thanked him it was not enough.
Ever since I had left home I had dreamed that I would play cricket, but to do so soon, within 2 or 3 years it was beyond anything I had imagined.
I couldn’t believe that I was playing for Pakistan.
When you were at the national academy you met Salman Butt for the first time. Tell me what were your initial impressions of Salman Butt?
When I first met Salman Butt, he was a senior player and he was a star for Pakistan and I was a junior, but he had a very good image amongst the juniors. It wasn’t that he was only nice to me, he was close to all the juniors, cracking jokes and socialising with them and being pleasant to them.
When we turned up for practice, he’d give gloves to anyone who needed them, or a bat to others. He was educated, well behaved, and most of the time the seniors did not mingle with the juniors the way he did.
Because of that and because he treated the juniors differently to the others, I thought he was a nice man.
And clearly this friendship developed over time and you became very good friends with Salman?
Yes because we both played for the National Bank. From time to time we talked about cricket, and he told me that he’d mentioned my name to someone and told them that I was a very nice boy and that I was a very good bowler.
He treated me like an elder brother treats his younger brother.
It was during the world twenty20 I think in England that you met Mazhar Majeed for the first time. Again, tell us what were your initial impressions of him?
I was introduced to Mazhar Majeed by Salman. Mazhar also made a very good impression on me. He came across as a very good guy, who made jokes, the way a well-educated man and a well-mannered man would behave. He looked like a family man because I also met his wife. She wears a hijab and is religious. She says her prayers and he did too.
So let’s get to the summer of 2010 then. Now prior to the Lord’s match when you bowled the no-balls, Salman Butt approached you twice about fixing, just talk us through each occasion, how he said it, and what your reply to him was?
Salman had asked me twice. Once he asked me like a joke. He was smiling and laughing and I didn’t take it seriously either. I said “no, bro”. I smiled too, and stepped aside.
The second time he asked me I said to him “bro this is forbidden”. I was a bit rude to him. I said to him “this is forbidden, leave it, I am not going to do it”.
Just before the Birmingham test you took a call from a businessman you knew as Ali. Who was he?
Ali was Salman’s friend, and we had met in Dubai. I had bowled a world record while playing against New Zealand, and at that point everybody was trying to meet me and get a picture with me and get an autograph.
It was at that point that he had introduced himself to me as Salman’s friend and that he knew some of the other players. I said ok and then he asked me if I needed anything in Dubai.
If I did he said I should just call him. I said thank you, but it’s not necessary as we were leaving the following day for New Zealand.
He then said that he was often in Pakistan, and that I should give him my Pakistan number so that he could contact me when he was there.
I gave him my contact details because he was Salman’s friend I thought it would be fine to do so. When I got back to Pakistan, he rang me once or twice and we met up
So when we came to England, he called me while I was at Edgbaston and asked me for my UK mobile number and I gave it to him.
And then he asked you for your bank account details at some point and you sent your bank account details to him. Then on the eve of the Oval test there are a number of text messages that you sent to Ali which in turn read yes; yes what; for how much; but what needs to be done; it would be too much friend; so in the first 3 bowl whatever you like and in the last 2 do 8 runs. How do you explain those text messages?
Since he had asked me about my bank account details I asked him why he needed them. In response he said just give me them and I’ll tell you later what it is for.
It was then that I sat waiting for someone and was bored. I was curious and I asked myself what exactly he wanted from me. I had to find out.
Twice he asked me if Salman had had a word with me and then he asked me for my bank account details. Had anyone been going through what I was going through then, they would have reacted in the same way asking themselves what does he want from me? Let’s try and figure this out. That was why I had sent him these texts.
At no stage, or let me ask the question differently. At any stage did you receive any money from Ali?
During the Oval test you told Salman about the fact that Ali had been bugging you and that there were certain texts that you’d sent to him?
Yes I told him. I told him on the morning of the Oval Test before fielding practice. I told him about the type of texts that Ali had been sending me and what he had asked me to do.
He laughed and said that he hadn’t spoken to him about anything; that he hadn’t spoken to him at all. He laughed and walked away.
Ok, so we’ve got to the eve of the Oval test match now. In the conversations between Mazhar Majeed and the journalist, there is talk of Pakistan bowlers bowling no-balls at the Oval. Did you know anything about that?
No. I had no idea..
Did you bowl to the best of your ability at the Oval?
Yes. I was man of the match at the Oval. And it was a great moment for me, because it was the first time in nine years that we had beaten England and I was man of the match. As far as I could, I tried my best.
So at the end of the Oval test you’ve performed to the best of your ability, but you have received approaches from Ali and from Salman at this stage, again, do you regret not having informed the team management or the ICC?
Yes, exactly, I was stupid, I should’ve told someone. I didn’t have a clue what was happening to me at that point. I was on top of the world; I was performing brilliantly, everyone wanted to know me, and everybody wanted to have a contract with me.
And I was lost in that world, nor had I ever considered this thing to be serious. Nor was it anywhere in my mind that I would do something like this, or that it was a good thing for me. I had never thought about this kind of thing.
And had I taken it seriously then perhaps I would have gone and told the management “that these guys want to do this with me. What are they doing to me?”
Anyway, I didn’t take any of it seriously; I thought it was a load of nonsense This led to my downfall.
Ok, let’s go to the day before the Lord’s test which is August 25th. What happened on that day?
25th? I was in the hotel, I think, and I had just come out of the shower. I received a call from Mazhar saying that I should go to the car park because he wanted to talk to me about something very important. I said, ‘ok I’ll get myself ready and then come over.’
Then when I got to the lift I bumped into Salman. Now, I can’t remember if it was he who told me to turn left at the signal in the car park but that is where Mazhar was.
I think he did say that. So I went out and Mazhar had a grey coloured car in the parking area. I went and sat next to him in the front seat.
All of a sudden it was as if someone had launched an attack. Suddenly he said ‘oh bro, you’ve got yourself in big trouble, you’re trapped, and your career is at stake.’
I said “Bro, what’s happened?” He told me that my calls and texts with Ali had been recorded and had reached the ICC.
I said ‘what?’ He said that he had received a phone call from a friend of his saying that my name was involved. I said, “but I have not done anything for him.”
He said “nevertheless you’re trapped; your name’s being mentioned, and the case is now open.”
I said, “What now?” And he said “he’s my friend and you’re lucky that he’s the one who is in charge of this case.”
He said that he told him, “bro, put an end to this case, shut this file. Whatever you need me to do, I’ll do it. Whatever needs to be done, I’ll do it. I’ll do anything.
But Amir’s name should not be mentioned”. I said, “And then?” That’s when he said “can you do me a favour?”
I asked him what favour? He replied ‘do 2 no balls for me.’
I said ‘what?!’ And here there’s something crucial that I’d like to say at this point: I’d like to say how stupid I was.
I mean on the one hand he was telling me that a report about me had gone to the ICC, and on the other that he wanted me to do 2 no balls for him.
My next question should have been to him “bro, on the one hand you’ve just told me that a report about me is on its way to the ICC, and then at the same time you’re asking me for 2 no balls?’
I panicked so much that I didn’t even think to ask him that… what are you doing?!
On one hand he had spoken about the whole ICC intelligence investigation, and on the other hand he was asking me to deliver no balls.
I was panicking so much it didn’t even occur to me how ridiculous it was.
I said in any case, I don’t do this kind of thing, nor do I know how to go about it.
I don’t know how to bowl no balls. My front foot is always behind the line. I very rarely delivered no balls throughout my entire career.
He said ‘no, no, just go to the ground and practise.’
He told me that Salman would help me and that he was with me. It was precisely at this very moment that Salman turned up and sat behind us.
And he didn’t say anything. All he did was to rest his elbows like that on both the seats and listened.
He didn’t utter a word. The only thing that he said was to bowl 2 no-balls. I can’t remember now whether it was then or later when he told me which ones they were to be.
I left the car. Then Salman remained sitting where he was. To begin with I thought,’ oh dear’. I panicked and went and sat in the bus worrying.
We were on our way to practise. It was raining when we got there so we went into the indoor school. Then Salman said, ‘are you going to do it or not?’
I said ‘bro, I’m very scared. I can’t do it. He said ‘don’t worry; nothing’s going to happen, bro.’
I’m pretty certain that Mazhar came around in the evening? I can’t remember exactly. He said then, or maybe on the following day, I can’t remember. I think the first time he told me exactly when the no balls were to be bowled was in the car.
I can’t quite remember if it was the 3rd in the 1st over, or the 3rd in the 3rd over. Anyway, that’s what he said.
When the match started the next day I remember that it was raining, and I remembered that no-ball. I think it was supposed to be the 3rd ball in the 3rd over. I was churning inside, though, thinking about it and I was cursing myself.
I wondered what was happening. I knew that it was cheating cricket; that it was out of order, and that it shouldn’t happen.
It was a really horrible feeling. Then I thought on the other hand that are being kind to me and helping me.
I thought that they are saving me and if I don’t do it, it might become a problem for me.
That’s what I was thinking at the time. Then I did it.
Let’s just go back to the meeting in the car, or the 25th, did he at any stage mention money to you, to bowl the no-ball for money?
He didn’t mention money at all. He didn’t talk about Mazher Mahmood, whoever he was. Whether he was his dealer or not, he never mentioned anything about it
He didn’t even tell me how much money he was spending on it, or how big the bet was to be.
He never talked about any of this.
And at practice, it was Salman who said to you practise the no balls and just do it, it is nothing?
How are you feeling before you bowl a no ball?
You know, horrible. Inside I was cursing myself for getting involved in such a thing
I knew it was unfair to cricket, because it is cheating. No matter how small the dishonest deed is, at the end of the day cheating is cheating.
Whether it’s a no-ball, or match fixing. No matter what it is, and whether it’s the tiniest of the tiny, it’s still cheating.
I thought that whatever was happening was unfair to cricket. I knew it was cheating. But I was also thinking how helpful he was being to me; that they were helping me.
I was worried that if I didn’t do it, then it might create a problem for me.
What I am really trying to say is that I was very confused; I couldn’t think straight. I panicked.
On this day. Mohammad Asif also bowled a no ball. Were you aware of his situation?
No. I never knew anything about his situation.
Ok, let’s talk about the money. On the evening of the first day, Mazhar Majeed came to your room and gave you 1500 pounds. What kind of mood was he in when he came to your room?
He was happy; he was over the moon, as happy as I am when I take a wicket. He said “you’re my little brother”. He was buzzing with excitement, like he’d hit the bullseye. He told me to keep this 1500 pounds.
I said I didn’t need the money. He insisted though that I keep it anyway.
He said he was very happy and that I should spend it on buying some stuff, clothes or whatever.
I said no because I knew why he was happy and that he got what he had wanted that day. No-one is so naïve not to understand what the money was for.
I knew why he was happy. That’s why I said I didn’t need it. He said no, no, no, you keep it. He gave it to me in an envelope.
I don’t think I even looked at the money; I put it in the safe. I had 8000 pounds lying separately in an open bag. And so I kept the 1500 separate in the safe, I didn’t even touch it.
That was because I knew he had made me do something wrong. And that was why he was happy and now he had turned up telling me to keep the money and do some shopping.
So although you didn’t know about the deal between Mazhar Majeed and the journalist. You drew a connection between the money he was giving you, and the no ball you bowled.
Yes because of his happiness and the no-ball situation. No-one is so stupid not to realise that if he was getting me to deliver no-balls, it must be because of some sort of a bet.
He must have been involved in some sort of gambling. I knew that’s why he was so happy.
He must have won some money or something like that, and that’s why he’s giving me the money.
Ok, let’s move to the second day, the second no-ball, did Salman remind you about bowling the second no-ball?
Yes he came to me. If you were to watch the video you can see him standing next to me. He’d come over and all he said was “you remember don’t you?”
I said yes I remember. Even then I was saying to myself, what’s happening to me. It’s not right. It shouldn’t happen. But I bowled the no-ball.
I was distressed; I was in a state of panic. And I was also scared inside, uncertain as to what was going to happen to me.
At the same time I thought they were helping me. Although I did it, I felt the same way as I had before when I bowled the first no-ball, knowing that this was wrong. This was cheating cricket, and that was out of order.
And even worse, you were in the middle of an astonishing spell of bowling, you were bowling as well as you have ever bowled?
Yes, and I’d like to mention a story here about when I came to England in 2007 to play with the under 19’s. We visited Lord’s and I told a friend that one day I’d come back and play here and give an outstanding performance.
Memories of those days were rushing through my mind. It was the same pavilion where I’d made that pledge. England were the home team and Pakistan the visitors.
And I remembered that moment when I’d said that to my friend that I’d return to perform at Lord’s, the home of cricket.
If you perform there it boosts your image, you go down in cricket history. Those were some of my most cherished moments.
At lunchtime, after the second no-ball, Waqar Younis suspected something because he asked you what was going on.
Yes. I was silent, feeling ashamed. It had been such a mega no-ball for the entire world to see.
I was panic stricken. I was untying my shoe laces and suddenly he came up to me and asked me what on earth I’d just done? I was thinking “what should I say?” When suddenly Salman spoke up, which was a relief as I had no idea what I was going to say.
Salman explained to Waqar that he’d told me to “go forward and bowl a bouncer”. I remained quiet, I said nothing.
After the police came and searched your room, you were in the lobby of the hotel and you bumped into Mazhar Majeed’s brother Azhar Majeed. And you sent Ali a text at this point to ask him to delete the earlier text messages that you’ve sent. So at this point you are still certain that you are in trouble for the text messages that you have sent Ali, rather than anything you have done at Lord’s?
Yes because I never knew about the News of the World story. In fact I’d only really found out round about then that the News of the World was in fact a newspaper.
So I didn’t know what it was; and secondly, I still had a thing in my mind that all this was linked to the ICC. The police came round, but I never thought they had any connection with Scotland Yard. I thought ICC had sent their own people over.
So I sent Ali a message telling him to delete any calls and texts that he’d sent me. I was overcome with panic.
I had no idea what was going on. Had I been aware, I would have rung Mazhar and asked what had happened; why the police were here; and what was going on with the News of the World.
I knew nothing. The first thing I did was text Ali. I can’t remember why. I don’t know how it happened.
It was beyond all comprehension. My emotions were all over the place, out of control, like when I’d taken the 6 wickets at Lord’s and felt I was on top of the world. This came out of the blue. I couldn’t come to grips with what was happening. I panicked. What had happened to me? I couldn’t understand anything.
At this stage, you still don’t know about the amounts of money involved and you don’t know about Mazhar’s arrangement with the man who turned out to be a journalist?
What was the atmosphere like in the Pakistan dressing room that morning?
Everyone was anxious because it was a shocking day for cricket. It was very damaging to the reputation of Pakistan cricket. All the media were shouting out “spot fixing, spot fixing”.
Our name was being tarnished everywhere. Not just the players but also Pakistan as a country. And because of all our roots, that was more painful.
It was Pakistan’s name being dragged through the dirt. So everyone was very concerned.
Everybody felt the same way, even the masseur was worried.
One day I was on top of the world, and the next I’d come crashing down. It was as if someone had shot me and that I simply didn’t exist anymore; that I was dead. That’s how I was feeling then.
At what stage then did you realise you were in trouble for the no-balls at Lord’s and not for the text messages to Ali?
To start off with, it was in the papers. It was everywhere. The News of the World had said it and then it was broadcast by other channels that these no-balls were delivered at Lord’s etc.
At Lord’s, I knew that it was due to Mazhar’s instructions to me. And in the newspapers, the people at the News of the World I think, they wrote about the entire sting operation that told in minute detail how we had acted, whatever it was.
It was then I found out that it was not Ali’s incident with me, but in fact it was the no-balls that were being scrutinised in the News of the World.
Did you realise at this point that you are in serious trouble? Absolutely. That’s why I’m saying it felt like I’d been shot.
My entire life was destroyed. I had begun to receive phone calls from home and for five days I couldn’t eat. To be honest for five days I got cramps, even when I was just sitting.
I could scarcely swallow water. I was so worried and in such a state of absolute panic. I was overwhelmed. I felt like I wasn’t in this world anymore. The cramps were unexpected and frequent.
At the end of that game you received a man of the series award in the long room at Lord’s. What were you feeling at that point because on the one hand you’ve got your man of the series award and on the other there’s this big story about fixing, I mean what was going through your mind at that point?
To be honest, since I am telling you the story of my life, at that time my security officer had wanted to take me downstairs. I had told him that I did not want to go.
The reason for that was because I was so worried and so panic stricken and under so much pressure that I had told him from the start that I didn’t wish to go downstairs.
He said “No, no, come with me, nothing will happen.” When I went down, everyone’s eyes were only on me. People had forgotten about (my performance at) the Lord’s test completely.
Everyone was focussing on the story. So I was completely… I was thinking where I was. Once I looked up like that and considered where I’d been before, and where I’d ended up.
So let’s be clear, you bowl the two no-balls at Lord’s, not for money, but because your agent and your captain had said you are in trouble because of the earlier texts to Ali and they said if you bowl the no-balls they will help you out of your difficulties?
Yes absolutely. Because everyone thinks that I did it for money. I want to clarify that is not the case.
Cricketers in any case make enough money to keep themselves satisfied. So to cheat in this way is futile. It’s pointless to do such things.
So I didn’t do it for money. And with the grace of Allah, no-one, not my parents, my teachers, no-one has ever taught me to behave in such a manner.
Thanks to Allah, I trust myself to distinguish between right and wrong.
I have never done anything dodgy, and I won’t in future if Allah is willing and this is Allah’s grace.
How was I manipulated? How was I made to do a thing like this? How was I trapped? Why did those people do what they did to me? Up till now I have not been able to figure it out.
However I never did it for money. And I think that if they were aware I was interested in doing it for money, they wouldn’t have created this story.
They told me that I was in trouble for texting Ali and what was in those texts. And they said that ICC had managed to record them.
There had been no need for these guys to make this story up.
If they thought I was prepared to do such a thing they’d simply have come up and asked me. That’s why I’m so angry with Salman. He took advantage of my friendship.
He used to call me “innocent one”. Like how an elder brother would speak to a younger one.
And I used to respect him like an elder brother. He should have helped me instead of involving me in all this.
Between the test match at Lord’s and the eventual trial in England, you continued to protest your innocence along with Salman and Mohammad Asif. Why?
Mainly because of fear; I just didn’t know what I ought to do.
There was so much pressure; from the media, from everyone. From all directions all you could hear was “spot fixing, spot fixing”.
And you can imagine how any 18 or 19 year old lad was feeling under those circumstances. I’d gone from the height of fame to being disgraced in such a horrendous way.
Anyone going through that would panic and fail to understand the situation.
Had I fully realised what had happened or had a bit more sense, I would have gone straight to the ICC or cricket board and informed them. I was so stupid. I failed to comprehend any of it.
I didn’t realise that it was real and I was in serious trouble. Why didn’t I do something? I had no idea who to turn to or who to trust. Everyone was saying they could help me.
What I was thinking was that the man whom I’d trusted the most, had landed me in trouble. After that, who could I possibly trust? And how could I know that person would help me?
I couldn’t find the courage to talk it all through with anyone.
The PCB, the Pakistan Cricket Board were trying to help you at this point?
Absolutely yes. Twice they asked me to tell them the truth. They assured me they were in a position to offer me help.
They repeatedly asked me to speak the truth. But I failed to do that.
How was I to tell? I was so anxious and very afraid. I wasn’t even able to confide in my family.
It’s only now that my family has found out the whole story. They’ve been kept in the dark. They never knew what I went through.
Eventually you did plead guilty ahead of the trial. Did you feel relieved at that point that you were finally able to tell the truth?
Before pleading guilty, when I was at the ICC hearing I was secretly beating myself up from within, thinking I’m telling lies.
What was I doing? This was a complete lie. This was all rubbish. So when I came here (to England) I decided I would tell the truth.
And I just couldn’t tell more lies. My decision was to stick to the truth.
At the end of the day I did do it, whether it was entrapment or whatever, I did make a mistake. If I had been sensible I would have gone and told the management or gone to the ICC.
I don’t know what fancy remote world I was lost in. I couldn’t understand anything.
I got so famous with so many new people entering my life. You can imagine how it was for an 18 year old who was playing effortlessly and savouring every moment of my success. I had lost all sense of reality.
But I told myself that I’d definitely done wrong and would accept the truth, whatever the consequences. The country’s reputation was being tarnished.
I had become infamous. My family’s name was being ruined. Because of that it’s better that you tell the truth. If you know you’ve been out of order then you must tell the truth.
Then I said I would plead guilty. And to be honest, when I pleaded guilty in court I had this profound feeling of relief.
It was as if someone had removed tonnes of weight from me, leaving me relieved and feeling utterly relaxed.
I felt light. Thank god I spoke the truth. That was a moment of extreme peace for me.
You had to remain silent throughout the trial whilst others had their say. How difficult was that?
It was difficult. I remained quiet because I had done something wrong and had confessed. What more could I do?
What they did was their business. What they were saying and what they were keeping to themselves.
I had nothing to do with them. As far as I was concerned I had confessed.
However, I stress, it was not for money.
I admitted that I had made a mistake. That was the reason behind my silence. I couldn’t have said any more than that. What more could I have said?
After the trial, you were led away with a handcuff on your bowling hand. You’ve talked earlier about receiving the Pakistan kit being the greatest moment of your life, was that the worst moment?
Yes absolutely. One of the greatest moments in my life was when I first played for the Pakistan team.
That had been the best moment, and now when they put handcuffs on me, it was the worst. I was looking at my handcuffs and telling myself that from now on I would never play cricket again.
I was crying, and saying to myself that I wouldn’t play or touch a ball again, nor would I even think about cricket.
During my journey to the prison I decided at that single moment in time that from now on I would never think about cricket, nor would I play it again.
That was a very difficult time for me.
Do you think you deserved to go to prison for what you did?
What I can say is that I think I deserved to be punished. If you’ve done something wrong then you must receive some sort of punishment. Whenever there is any wrongdoing it has consequences.
In prison you’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the events of 2010, looking back now, what lessons have you learnt about it all?
In prison the very first thought that occurred in my mind was what on earth has happened to me? How did it happen?
Has it actually happened for real? It was as if I was in a daze, just having woken up and not really being in touch with the real world and its activities.
Then I would tell myself that with such people, however trivial a friendship is, and no matter how insignificant the meaning of the words that friend has spoken, if those words are to lead you astray then that person cannot be a friend.
He is your biggest enemy. This is the lesson that I have learnt during this time. If anyone were to tell you to do something that is even a tiny bit dodgy, it’s impossible for you to consider them your friends.
They are your enemies. It is of very little importance where this happens, whether it’s an office or in the cricket world, it could be anywhere.
Any person who tells you to do wrong regardless of what scale, it is wrong and therefore he is your greatest enemy.
Your job is to go and tell someone in authority. For instance if you are an office worker and are being asked to indulge in devious acts, then you must go and tell the head committee of that office.
In future this might have terrible consequences for your life. If you deal with a situation like I did, that is, with total stupidity, I never grasped the seriousness of what was happening.
As a result, today here I am in a huge mess. This can happen to anyone, not only to someone called Mohammad Amir but it can be any youngster’s fate.
It can happen to anyone. The thing to do is not to place your trust in anybody. The only person who can be considered a worthy friend is the one who stops you from doing wrong. And your enemy is the one who encourages you to do bad things.
Many people think that the Pakistan team in that summer of 2010 was corrupt in a general sense. What would you say to people about the Pakistan team and your team-mates?
Of course that’s how it was reported. It was something that we had heard frequently. We got to hear things like “he is corrupt” or that a certain player is dishonest.
But it is not like this at all. In the year and a half that I’d been playing regularly everyone tried their hardest. No-one at any point said anything to initiate something dodgy or to cheat.
Everyone always gave a hundred per cent to win every match. Everyone was aware that respect is earned through winning matches.
Everybody knows that. Who doesn’t want to be respected?
People all over the world want to experience that feeling of being highly regarded. Or that they should be viewed as someone who’s tried their best.
When I was part of the team that’s what drove me too. To give my best.
That was the intention of each and every one of us. They wanted to do the best they could for the Pakistan team.
We played to win. Everyone tried their best. But then the public’s outlook immediately became negative and that started rumours accusing players of being corrupt.
You cannot make such generalisations. Just because there were a few bad people you cannot judge the whole of Pakistan or the team as being the same as them. That’s not how it is in reality.
You were 17 when you first came into the Pakistan team. You were still a teenager when all this happened in 2010. Do you think that you slightly lost sight of yourself given your rapid rise to stardom and the fame that accompanied it?
Yes that’s true. And actually, the way I performed and then how it was reported, I was caught up in a world of glamour.
I could not see what was right and what was wrong. New friends were becoming part of my life and almost everybody wanted to speak to me.
What it meant was my way of thinking changed completely. I wasn’t even spending time with my family. I was being dragged away into another remote fancy world.
Perhaps though it’s natural that anyone in my position would have been the same way. Your ability to think was numbed. You would fail to judge whether your behaviour was right or not.
When you are doing so well, you don’t think logically about the bad. In cricket terms it’s like when you are winning no-one points out mistakes. Like if your technique is faulty or your wrist is wrong.
No-one says a word. But if your performance is not good, and the team is losing then your mistakes get highlighted.
I had been carrying on with no idea who I was speaking to and whether those people were honest or not.
So you think very differently now, about friendship, about loyalty, about trust, about what’s right and wrong? Yes. If I had done that then, then right now I would still be playing cricket.
I would still be part of the Pakistan team. And there’s a famous saying that “if you learn from your mistakes then it doesn’t matter how long it has taken.”
It is crucial for a person to come to his senses. At the moment I am trying to be mature, and therefore look at the world in a mature way as I do that.
I am concentrating hard on how I can improve and behave in the best way possible as I mature. That is what I am trying to achieve at the moment.
You haven’t seen your family for 11 months now. How have your mother and father been coping? You’ve been speaking to them on a daily basis since your release.
Yes because all parents love their children. And as for my family, no matter how much I thank them for their support, it will not be enough.
Even though they have always loved me, that love has increased while I have been going through such tough times.
You’ve taken responsibility for your actions by pleading guilty and you’ve spent some time in prison. There will still be millions of people, cricket fans in Pakistan who will feel let down by your actions. What message have you got for them?
I apologised to cricket fans when I pleaded guilty. I was always aware of their love and respect for the game.
When fans sit down to watch a match it is with hope and expectation. They are relying on you. Just like if a country places faith in a President, they expect the country will be run properly.
The same applies where fans are concerned. They look up to you in expectation that you will win.
I have said sorry before and I say sorry again today. No matter how it happened and how I was manipulated to make this mistake, I can only apologise.
What else can I do apart from saying sorry? Secondly, I’d like to say a word of warning for young players out there. As I’ve said before, if anyone asks you to do something wrong, you must inform the authorities.
I want to stress this point. Today it’s me in this situation; tomorrow it could well be someone else.
Not necessarily a Pakistani, but a player from any other country. Any youngster who could get stuck in a mess like this.
I want to say there are people out there who will try and get you involved in fixing. And they don’t trap you by pointing a gun to your head.
They befriend you in a way like what’s been demonstrated here with me. It’s with kindness; they’ll try and give you gifts and establish a relationship with you.
It’s not written on anyone’s forehead saying that person is a match fixer or a bookie; whether they are honest or dishonest.
It’s very hard to try and figure these people out. They become your friends; they try and meet you through other people you know and trust.
Then eventually they succeed in trapping you somehow.
When I pleaded guilty I said I was sorry. And I am going to say sorry again. I am also aware that as a result of what’s happened, cricket has been harmed.
Cricket was damaged and the sport suffered. It is not just to the fans and to the entire population of Pakistan that I’d like to apologise. But also to people all over the world who watch and cherish the sport. Whether they follow on television or watch the games live.
People watch the sport and follow the stars because of their love of cricket.
That’s why I apologise to everyone. Because I know the game, and it doesn’t matter in whatever walk of life, whether it’s at school or not, if you don’t do things the right way then you will be punished.
In the same way, if you do something out of order, your fans will express anger against you. They are bound to react. It’s because although they love you, they’ve lost the respect they had for you.
That love they had turns to anger. And considering all that, I understand they are right to have those emotions. Whether its love or anger, the least I can do is to ask them for their forgiveness. I ask everyone to forgive me.
I will continue to say sorry because I did do something wrong. And bearing in mind the Pakistani culture, where my situation is concerned, it hits very hard.
Even speaking from just a cricketing point of view, the public has such passion for the sport that you are recognised immediately, even if you are just walking down the road.
Just by thinking about that you can get a glimpse of the feeling of adulation.
And from that you can see how much the sport is loved by the Pakistani public. When this happened, as the whole world found out, everyone was so angry.
Particularly in my case. The way I had come onto the scene so young; and within a year Allah showered me with so much blessing.
Along with that was the love I received from the people. Therefore I understand they were angry and will keep feeling that way.
I apologise to them. I ask for their forgiveness. I messed up.