Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Do We Believe Mohammad Amir's Story?

I want to. I really want to. I want to believe that Mohammad Amir was an innocent 18 year old boy who was set up by his friend and captain, and his fixer.

But I can't.

There are a lot of things about Mohammad Amir's interview that are bothering me, and I feel like we are being told a story that is not true. I feel like we, the Pakistan cricket fans, are being lied to again.

Since the interview aired, I've heard a wide variety of thoughts from the general public and Twitterati. A section feels sorry for the kid and believe he was truly set up, and another section believes he is lying.

Many also feel that this is just the start of his rehabilitation and image building plan that has been put in place by his well wishers.

That it may be, but let me start with why I am having a hard time believing this story of a set up.

Why Now?
Even those who believe Amir have been asking this question since last night. Why now? Why tell the world that you were set up now when you had 18 months to do it? Why stay quiet all this time?

The day the story broke in the News of the World, there were senior men in the Pakistan dressing room like Yawar Saeed, and many back in Pakistan, like Ijaz Butt, who had repeatedly requested Amir to be honest and tell them the truth.

But Amir remained quiet. Why?

I understand that at first he denied all accusations because he panicked and then finally pleaded guilty after he was guided appropriately. That's fine.

But then why remain quiet after pleading guilty? Why not tell your story then? Wouldn't that have been the right time to tell the world that you were set up?

I am not sure if there is some law that does not allow those who plead guilty to turn into a witness in a case, but if there isn't then why didn't Amir just become a witness in this whole spot fixing hoopla? His story would have surely helped the prosecution!

So why now Amir?

Why Couldn't he Trust anyone else besides Salman Butt?
Amir says that the reason why he chose to remain quiet was because he did not know who to trust since the person he trusted the most had just betrayed him. He hadn't even told this story to his family according to him.

Did he really not trust anyone else more than Salman?

Wasim Akram is his self proclaimed idol. He has talked about calling Wasim bhai on many occasions for advice. Wasim bhai was also the one who spotted him in a camp and groomed him whenever he got the chance.

So how difficult was it to pick the phone up and tell Wasim bhai how badly you had been trapped?

Waqar Younis was the team coach. Waqar had been working with Amir for many months and surely Waqar would have taught him a thing or two about bowling and how to conduct oneself considering Waqar had also burst into the scene as an 18 year old. I'm also quite sure that Waqar would have developed some sort of relationship with Pakistan's rising star in the dressing room. So why was it so hard to sit down with Waqar and explain to him how you had been set up?

Aqib Javed was also with the team. Aqib must have seen Amir during his time with U19 team and the NCA as well. Aqib is known to have a good relationship with all players, and in particular with the juniors. Aqib has been one of the most respected members of the team's coaching staff in recent years. Why couldn't Amir trust him?

Moreover, before Salman Butt, Amir had played under the captaincy of Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, and Shahid Afridi during his 14 month cricket career. Were Pakistan's senior most cricketers not trustworthy for Amir?

Where the F&*$ is Ali?
There is enough evidence in the text messages exchanged between Amir and Ali for the authorities to implicate Ali in a spotfixing case.

Here is a man who was trying to corrupt a young cricketer and he is no where to be found? Whose failure is that? His numbers and texts were found on Amir's phone so why didn't anyone try and get hold of him? Amir says Ali was Salman Butt's friend whom he had met in Dubai. How hard could it be to trace him? Why did no one try and question Ali in the court?

Amir has openly accused Ali of being complicit with Salman Butt and Mazhar Majeed in setting him up. If Amir was fighting this case in court, Ali would be a key witness wouldn't he?

Now I am no psychiatrist but if you take a look at the interview again, then when the first time Atherton mentions Ali, Amir changes his posture, raises the pitch of his voice, and then speaks about him. Now it could be that Amir got angry, hence the change in body language, but to me it just seemed like he was lying.

Did He Really Not See the Setup Coming?
Now we all know that he is an 18-19 year old boy, but he is not a dimwit.

Amir himself said he was curious to find out what Ali wanted from him, which is why he initially entertained his text messages and asked him what he wanted, before telling Ali that he would not do it.

Amir knew that he had done nothing wrong with respect to what Ali had asked him, so why did he get scared of ICC getting a hold of those text messages? The ICC didn't get hold of them but that is what Mazhar Majeed told him to set him up according to Amir.

I find it hard to believe that an inquisitive person like Amir who has enough sense to probe Ali to find out what he wants, and has enough sense to tell Salman Butt twice that he would not get involved in fixing, doesn't have the sense to say to Mazhar that it doesn't matter if the ICC has got hold of the text messages, they can't do anything to him because he hasn't done anything wrong.

He could have very easily walked away from Mazhar's car in the parking lot after saying that he would not do it. But he didn't.

According to Amir he panicked and he really thought he was in trouble. But how could one be in trouble when you haven't taken any money from a bookie / fixer, nor have you underperformed?

If you have not seen the interview then please go here and take a look and decide for yourself if you want to believe Mohammad Amir or not.

Whether its true or not, Michael Atherton has done a wonderful job getting us this story. And despite the fact that I have my doubts about the credibility of the story, I do feel sorry for Mohammad Amir, who I believe suffered from a generally corrupt dressing room environment.

He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Atherton ends the interview with a very pertinent question: will cricket ever want Mohammad Amir back?

Its a difficult question. A part of me wants to see him in those green colours so badly, but another part of me is frustrated that I am still being lied to.

But does it really matter that Amir has lied in this interview? Or what matters more is that fact that he has served his punishment in jail, he is serving his ICC ban, he has learnt his lesson and will never fix again, and that he has apologized endlessly to all his fans?

Make your pitch on this post...

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2 Pitched:

  1. Mudassar said...

    I believe in second chance and I will like to give him one

    but the cricket world is getting even more muddy as after every couple of months some jerk sits in front of a journalist and shakes our belief and love for the game by calling few of the matches we cherish being fixed etc

    this is just making fans sick and causing some damage to cricket the sport.

  2. Anonymous said...

    Why Now? You already answered. If you plead guilty, you can't be used as a witness on an ongoing case.

    He couldn't have told Wasim Akram... Wasim Akram himself has been embroiled in match fixing.

    However, the body language and his answers seem too far fetched... I am pretty sure he is lying, at least some parts of his stories are absolute lies.

    I had developed sympathy for him, but after watching that interview... I don't have any left... and he continues to lie. It would be better if he would have said that he gave in to human nature and became greedy...

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