Former England captain Michael Atherton says young Pakistan pacer Mohammad Aamir, implicated in the spot-fixing scandal, was in the "the grip of evil" and should be given a second chance by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Aamir, fellow pacer Mohammad Asif and Pakistan captain Salman Butt have been suspended after a sting operation by a tabloid revealed that they bowled no-balls to order during the Lord's Test against England last week.
Cricketer-turned-journalist Atherton said he hopes to see the 18-year-old Aamir getting a fresh chance to mend his ways.
"Nasser Hussain, who I once saw walking around the team hotel in Sri Lanka in the early hours of the morning before a Test match unable to sleep, so worried was he about his form, spoke for us all when he said, 'Please don't let it be the kid'," Atherton wrote in The News of the World.
"The 'kid' in question was Mohammad Aamir, the young, good looking and prodigiously talented Pakistan bowler who had blown England away on the second morning at Lord's with a mesmeric spell of left-arm fast bowling and who now, we had been told, had overstepped the front line twice for a few dollars more," he added.
Atherton, however, said underperforming for money is worse then even flunking a dope test.
"It is worse than doping, because the fixer is deliberately trying to underperform, so deceiving the paying public."
The former batsman said though he hopes to see lenient treatment for Aamir, the ICC is "unlikely to show any clemency now".
"This is not necessarily arbitrary or unfair, simply a realisation that there are mitigating circumstances for an 18-year old...It would be grossly unfair to ban a kid for life for overstepping the line twice."