LONDON  - M Aamir should not be welcomed back into international cricket and should have been excluded from the game for life for his involvement in spot-fixing, according to Kevin Pietersen.
Pietersen has become the first England player involved in the 2010 Lord's Test, which ended in uproar with newspaper revelations about the scam, to state openly that all players involved in the spot-fixing should never play cricket again. His comments are made in Kevin Pietersen on Cricket, a follow-up to his controversial autobiography a year ago which railed against his removal from the England team.
"I know M Amir was only 18 when he got into trouble, and that he was a special talent," Pietersen says. "I also know that he and M Asif were from poor backgrounds and were offered a hell of a lot of money for a few seconds' work. But I don't care; they should not be coming back. I don't feel badly towards them and I wish them well in their lives, but the game is bigger than us, the game will be around a lot longer than us, and we don't have the right to steal from it. We play fairly, we play tough, we play positively, we play negatively, people play the way that they want to play. But there's no place in the game for corruption, and if you get caught you have to be given a life ban."
Aamir was predicted to be a world star when he wrecked his cricketing career by deliberately bowling two no-balls to order during the Lord's Test. He served three months in a young offender institution in the England after he was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court, along with Asif and Salman Butt, of a conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments.
His five-year ICC ban ended in September and he has vowed: "I let everybody down but I will return with honesty and dignity."
Pietersen would show no mercy. "When the spot-fixing story broke… that day was the worst I've experienced in cricket. The guys didn't even want to bowl to them, we didn't celebrate the wickets that we took; everything about it was horrendous. We just felt so much anger towards them. We could not believe what they'd done. Match-fixing, spot-fixing - I'm fierce about anything like that. If you're caught you should never play again, because we have an amazing game. There are so many honest blokes out there, trying their hardest and committing to everything to make a living, and if you're cheating then sorry, I'm afraid that's got to be it."
Pietersen said his attitude towards match-fixing first hardened when he was playing for Natal in a one-day warm-up against South Africa, during which South Africa's captain Hansie Cronje ran from the field to receive a message. The next day revelations about match-fixing filled the papers and Cronje's career was disgraced.
"I'm not a person who has lived a perfect life," Pietersen said. "I don't think that anybody has the right to judge anybody: if you make mistakes, you make mistakes. We all do, because nobody's perfect and I was raised to recognise that. He obviously just loved money and got into the wrong scenario. So once he'd apologised and been punished, I was proud of how the country forgave him and happy that he could stay a hero. But that doesn't mean I disagreed with his life ban."