KARACHI: Pakistan's banned pace bowler Mohammad Amir has decided to finish his degree during his forced isolation from cricket.
The 18-year-old abandoned his studies when he started globetrotting as his career with Pakistan took off but his promising future was abruptly halted after he was found guilty of corruption by an International Cricket Council tribunal last month.
Handed a five-year ban from the sport, Amir said he wanted to use the time productively.
“I had to leave my college studies because of my full-time career in cricket once I was selected for Pakistan. But now I am trying privately to get a college degree,” the teenager said on a news channel.
“I am passing through the toughest period of my life and I have realised just how important it is to get a good education.”
Amir, former test captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, were banned for a minimum of five years after being found guilty of bowling pre-arranged no balls during a test against England last year. They are appealing their bans with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The trio also face criminal charges of accepting bribes and trying to defraud in a case brought by Britain's Crown Prosecution Service and must appear in a magistrate's court on March 17 in London.
They all deny any wrongdoing.
Many Pakistan players such as Amir hail from rural backgrounds and are unable to get a good education.
The left arm paceman had been tipped to become one of the best bowlers in the sport after picking up 99 wickets - across tests, ODIs and Twenty20 matches - since making his international debut in July 2009.
But with his career now on hold, he said his family suggested he should focus on his studies to remain busy. He did not specify the nature of his degree.
“I have filed an appeal with the CAS through my lawyer and I am hopeful of a good result and I am also going to London next week to attend the magistrates hearing in the Scotland Yard case against us,” he added.
“I regret not being able to play in the World Cup but I watch the matches. One thing this episode has taught me is to differentiate between true friends and foes.”