Muhammad Aamir Set for World T20 Return
The cricket world can see the return of talented Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir in international cricket at the World T20 in India.
Having served his five-year ban on spot-fixing and performing extra-ordinarily in domestic cricket, Amir is in Pakistan’s plans for the biennial ICC event in India and there are discussion between the selection committee and team management over how and when to bring the young fast bowler back into the fold.
Although the Muhammad Aamir may receive some serious opposition from the current players, there are signs that current Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi is in favour of Amir’s inclusion in the team.
Sources close to Amir disclosed only two players who were in contact with him were Afridi and Ahmed Shehzad.
“Afridi wants to go on a high and since World Twenty20 will be his last international event he wants to use all the available resources to win the tournament,” said a source.
Afridi was reappointed Twenty20 captain after Hafeez was replaced following Pakistan’s failure to reach the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. But very few people know that the main reason behind Hafeez’s removal was that he was not willing to accept Amir in the team.
Amir has come a long way since his ban was relaxed in April 2015.
Regarded as the “hottest property” in international cricket by none other than legendary Pakistan all-rounder Imran Khan, Amir’s career hit the cruelest of roadblocks when he, along with new-ball partner Mohammad Asif and then captain Salman Butt was caught in a spot-fixing scandal on Pakistan’s tour of England in 2010.
Amir was only 18 then, so the world-wide sympathy he received for his age was natural. He also pleaded guilty before the court and although some may still argue and are not ready to give him the leeway, even the ICC Anti-corruption tribunal chief Malcolm Beloff conceded he would have given the teenager lesser punishment than the ICC code had allowed — minimum of five years.
That assertion by the QC allowed Pakistan Cricket Board to request the ICC to relax certain conditions of Amir’s ban. The ICC responded as the game’s administrative body also wanted to help the youngster.
The ICC amended its code in January 2015, allowing all banned players to feature in domestic matches a few months prior to their bans end. That allowed Amir to play in the Grade -11 games in April. He showed signs of rustiness but still took 22 wickets in the three-and-a-half matches he managed to play.
Amir worked on his fitness and was ready for the first-class season when all the conditions of his ban were lifted by the ICC on September 2. It allowed him to practice in the National Cricket Academy in Lahore where he had his first interaction with senior players like Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Hafeez and Shehzad.
“Amir, Butt and Asif were allowed to practice once the Pakistan team players leave the nets but at times Amir bowled to Misbah who showed no opposition towards him but Shehzad and Hafeez did not allow him to bowl at them. In fact one day Shehzad asked a net bowler to take the ball from Amir who was about to bowl at him,” said an eye witness.
Unperturbed by the snub, Amir set out on a wicket taking spree. He took 34 wickets in four matches to help Sui Southern Gas Corporation qualify for the main rounds of the country’s premier first-class tournament – the Quaid-e-Axam Trophy.
He has since taken 13 wickets in three first class matches and scored 60 and 66 to help his team avoid defeats.
“Amir is a better bowler than those who are currently playing for Pakistan,” said a source in Amir’s camp. “In fact what gives him the edge over Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali and Sohail Tanvir is his skills as batsman. Although international cricket is not on his mind, yet many believe he is ready to return to top grade cricket.”
Coach Waqar Younis also hinted Amir will be welcomed, but only after playing two home seasons but it is widely expected the coach will be convinced by Afridi.
With his form, Amir is also a target for the county teams, with Liecestershire in the lead. If that comes about Amir will be mature enough to return to international cricket sooner than expected..