I believe in Mohammad Amir but there is a slight problem with his comeback

Let’s get one thing out of the way; Mohammad Amir should be forgiven for all his wrongdoings. Plenty of people disagree and think he should continue to pay for his sins. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but, I’m sorry, are these people heartless?

I want to see him represent the country with pride and reward his compatriots and those who have continued to believe in him, even though he disgraced the nation.

It’s not just Pakistan who should be behind this precocious bowler, who some believe was well on his way to becoming the greatest bowler, such were his feats at his tender age, the cricketing fraternity should support him as well, in a bid to see the unharnessing of a cricket prodigy’s unique talents.

Photo: AFP

I believe in him and think he deserves another chance. It would be a difficult task to describe my reaction when I heard that Amir, the young prodigy capable of hustling batsmen with sheer pace, had been selected for the Pakistan squad against New Zealand after serving a lengthy ban of five years for spot-fixing.

His selection provoked an outcry from some quarters, but we all make mistakes and Amir has learnt the hard way.

Amir, along with then Test captain, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, were charged with accepting money in exchange for arranging deliberate no-balls during a Test match at Lord’s in 2010. The trio, along with their agent Mazhar Majeed, were jailed by a British court in 2011.

Photo: AFP

After pleading guilty, Amir was sentenced to six months in prison at the Southwark Crown Court where he spent only three months. Salman, Amir and Asif were also banned from cricket for at least five years. Last September, the International Cricket Council (ICC) lifted the sanctions against all three players.

Cricket is Pakistan’s most popular sport and Amir’s emergence and subsequent fall affected the country greatly. In 2009, after a slow start to his international career, Amir’s impressive potential was showcased against Australia and England. It seemed he was destined to have a legendary career, following suit of great Pakistani pace bowlers.

Amir had the rarefied ability to bowl at an express pace and conjure a late reverse swing. At the tender age of 18, he became the youngest bowler to notch 50 wickets. In his 14 Tests, he claimed 51 wickets at an average of 29.09, and in 15 One-Day Internationals (ODI) he bagged 25 wickets at 24 runs. In 19 T20s, he has picked up 23 wickets at less than 20 runs.

Photo: Reuters

With these impressive statistics, it is evident that Amir is an all-format bowler. Everyone was hoping he could replicate the superstar left-armer – the great Wasim Akram, who was reported to have said Amir was a better bowler than him at his age; effusive praise, to say the least.

Amir was also handy with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 73, which went down as the highest score by a number 10 batsman in ODI history.

Photo: AFP

I have fond memories of Amir before his career came to an unfortunate halt. No doubt he was foolish for committing such a pathetic sin, but I am hoping the five-year ban taught him his lesson. It should have shamed him and he should definitely emerge as a stronger and more resilient player. Most importantly, he should emerge as a better human being.

An alluring Pakistani bowling trio of Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir and Muhammad Irfan awaits the cricketing world now. It may even have the potential to trump Australia’s vaunted pace stocks.

There is a slight problem with Amir’s comeback, everyone isn’t happy with it. A lot of drama ensued with his return. Some influential voices and top players opposed his return, while some left the training camp at the national academy in Lahore.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) convinced ICC to relax his ban, allowing him to feature in domestic matches last April. Since his return, he has taken 22 wickets in four non first-class games, while his tally of wickets stood at 34 in the qualifying rounds of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

“I have a good team around me, a very supportive team who are looking after me in all aspects of my cricket and life. I’m indebted to them for their guidance and help,”

Amir said recently.

I am eager to see how Amir plays in the upcoming matches. In his first international comeback against New Zealand, he managed to take one wicket for 31 runs, an average performance, but we should not be too quick to jump to conclusions. With a series of matches lined up, as well as his participation in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in February, we can only hope that Amir performs his best in order to silence his critics.

Amir’s comeback will inspire cricket lovers and serve to become a powerful tale of redemption.

from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/31645/i-believe-in-mohammad-amir-but-there-is-a-slight-problem-with-his-comeback/

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