It’s a beautiful sunny day in St. Lucia.
I feel my pulse racing as the final over of the hefty Australian innings commences.
Mohammad Amir accelerates his run-up.
Two seconds later, the ball lies in the hands of the short third man.
Brad Haddin departs after scoring a run.
I cross my fingers and tap my legs in anxiety.
Amir races against the winds, his eyes glued to the bails.
Next thing I see, the ball makes an abrupt, stunning contact with the middle stump.
“The typical Pakistani yorker!”
Mitchell Johnson is out for a duck.
Third ball of the over.
Steven Smith misses the ball, attempts a bye. Hussey from the other end hurries. But before i know it, Kamran Akmal knocks the bails off.
Mike Hussey is out.
Am I hallucinating?
Three in three.
Kamran Akmal is rejoiced. Amir initiates a celebratory high-five.
I can hardly believe what I have just witnessed.
“Are we watching an action replay?”
Dirk Nannes walks off the pitch.
Four in four! I am elated.
Fifth ball of the over.
Amir to Tait.
‘That’s the way, Amir! We need not concede any runs’, I say to myself.
Final delivery of the innings.
All eyes on the prodigy that is Mohammad Amir.
Takes his run-up.
Bowls to Shaun Tait.
“Can you believe that!?”
Australia are all out and Pakistan are all smiles.
Although Australia stood victorious, this match went down in history as the one with the ‘5 wicket maiden’. However, dismay took over when the supremely talented 17 year old from Punjab, who stunned the world with his magnificent display of talent, took down his own flourishing career and with it, a part of everyone who looked up to him as the next Wasim Akram. This heinous turn-of-events cost Pakistani cricket fans more than just emotional damage. With Pakistan’s cricketing body already paying for the unforgettable terrorist incidents of 2009, the nation’s fragile yet unbreakable bond with the game of cricket was once again disturbed. And with that, Pakistan knew it had lost who could have been, rather already appeared to be, the next big thing in world cricket.
It has been argued to death why convicted fellow-players Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif have been dealt with differently as juxtaposed to Mohammad Amir, considering the magnitude of their erroneous actions lies parallel. For starters, both of them failed to come clean publicly as well as in court, gave rise to unnecessary cover-up stories and assertedly denied the accusations. On the other hand, Mohammad Amir not only conceded from the beginning, but also apologized and pleaded for mercy from law and on media. Subsequently, people argued that apologizing and ‘playing guilty’ in itself is not enough – to which I agreed. But does that mean we continue to loathe a former National prodigy whose prime mistake was his gullibility to comprehend the consequences of what he was about to step into?
To strengthen my point further, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were both senior to Amir in ranks of age and international cricket exposure. It was known to them what would follow if they juggled with the country’s pride and honor. Besides, Mohammad Amir was, I agree, an easy target to lure – which brings us back to the essence of the entire dilemma, his gullibility.
The current state of Pakistan cricket team is painfully upsetting at best, unwatchable at worst. With Saeed Ajmal refurbishing his action, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan and Bilawal Bhatti fighting injuries and Mohammad Irfan struggling to clinch those crucial breakthroughs, Pakistan cricket team can not afford to overlook a fine player like Mohammad Amir if they are to re-strengthen what was once their primary weapon – their astoundingly damaging bowling clan. Although, there are two issues that present themselves to our minds when Amir’s probable comeback to international cricket is talked about.
It is argued whether or not after five years of complete disassociation from domestic and international cricket will Mohammad Amir be able to generate the same pace and swing he was once too well known for. Although he picked up 3 for 27 in a club game in January, it is too early to predict the damage he is capable of putting across on international turf.
In his short yet productive span of international cricket, we saw him become the youngest cricketer to have bagged 50 test wickets. What made him such a treat to watch was his effortless swing that left greats like Shane Watson, Sachin Tednulkar and Ricky Ponting puzzled – an attribute only last seen in the Pakistan camp from the legend Wasim Akram.
The question that now remains is whether or not Amir will make his long awaited comeback with the same aggression, generating that good-old pace and most importantly, producing the same puzzlingly lethal swing with the new ball.
2. Welcome by those around him
To say that the Pakistani cricket team immeasurably suffered after the 2010 chaos would be a major understatement. Neither you nor I have been able to forget the global frenzy this shocking revelation had caused. It not only tarnished Pakistan’s repute, but also had the team’s morale and esteem hit a new low. Where former cricketers Wasim Akram, Rashid Latif and Mohammad Yousuf have shown approval and backed Amir’s comeback, there are also a good number of those opposing it. Ramiz Raja insists that the idea of welcoming a convicted fixer back into the prestigious National side should not be entertained. Moreover, former Pakistani leg spinner Abdul Qadir is of the opinion that this spot-fixing story could have been an exemplary incident for young cricketers today, and by alleviating Amir, PCB has been unjust to the other two.
With this air of mixed reactions circling the town, Mohammad Amir’s possible comeback to international cricket is a question mark at best.
Lately, I have found myself asserting that it is high time the world showed some sportsman spirit and welcomed the kid back. He made a mistake at a naïve age; show me someone who never did. Every ex-cricketer, board official, analyst, keyboard warrior or couch-cricket expert who voices rants against Amir’s right to second chance needs to get out of his holier-than-thou shell. Pakistan cricket, right now, has stronger demons to fight than moral-policing Mohammad Amir. There lie more issues in the Pakistani camp that require your attention, dear experts. Now is not the time to point fingers at 5-year-old matters that have been lawfully executed. As the saying goes – do the crime, do the time. And then, move on.