One of the Pakistani cricketers at the centre of the Test match betting scandal has consulted an immigration lawyer about possibly applying for asylum, according to The Telegraph.
Fast bowler Mohammad Asif, 27, apparently met with a solicitor at London firm Malik and Malik last week because he is concerned about a 'potentially violent backlash' from criminal gangs linked to the illegal betting underworld in his native Pakistan.
Asif reportedly asked the lawyer what avenues were open to him to remain in the UK. "He didn't say anything about asylum at first," said the source. "He just said, 'what's the way to stay?' Then we told him there's the student way - you can come here to study - or you can apply for a work permit. But then he asked about asylum."
According to the Telegraph, Asif intends to await the results of International Cricket Council and Scotland Yard investigations into the betting scandal before deciding whether to proceed with an asylum or visa application.
Asif could face potential imprisonment if the allegations against him are proved, which would almost certainly scupper any hope he may have of remaining in the UK long term.
Asif also tested positive for the anabolic steroid Nandrolone in 2006 and remains barred from travelling to the United Arab Emirates after he was deported from the country in 2008 for possessing drugs. These facts could also count against an asylum application.
Moreover, very few Pakistanis who apply for asylum are granted it. In 2009, for example, only 65 were given sanctuary.
For his application to succeed, Asif would need to prove firstly that he had "a well-founded fear of being persecuted" by persons out to cause him harm, and secondly that the Pakistan state would not protect him. Neither fact is easy to establish.