In light of Mohammad Amir’s recent return to Pakistan’s cricket scene after his ban, this is an ideal moment to re-assess his career.
There is no denying that this young bowler made a severe error in judgement and he has paid dearly for it. However, even thought he has wasted precious time, Amir is only 22. It is still not too late to pick up where he left off.
In his years of absence, this Pakistani star may have faded from our minds. However, before his trial, the misguided youngster enjoyed many (uncorrupted) victories. Even though he has become a very controversial figure for cricket, in 2010, he was, in my opinion, Pakistan’s most inspiring young player.
Domestic Career - A National Triumph
Cherry picked by the great Wasim Akram at the tender age of 15, Amir created quite a stir with his early performances. His first real breakthrough was during Pakistan’s U-19 tour of England where he picked up 8 wickets at an average of 16.37.
In 2008 he excelled in a tri-nation tournament against England and Sri Lanka, taking 9 wickets at an average of 11.22 in 3 matches.
This type of performance ripened him for an international career by 2009. It is heart-breaking to think that this golden boy was facing a scandal merely 1 year after his international debut.
2009 ICC World Twenty20
Although Amir certainly had a strong start, he really reached all new highs in 2009. Indeed, his consistently outstanding performance in every game propelled Pakistan to victory. Throughout this tournament, Amir sustained speeds of around 85 miles per hour and even reached peaks of 95 miles per hour in the final against Sri Lanka. At this point, he truly established himself as a world class bowler.
Following his success at the ICC World T20 2009, Amir made his test debut in late 2009 in the 1st Test against Sri Lanka at Galle; he was merely 17 years old. The 14 test matches which ensued lead to a set of very impressive records as the table below goes to show. This bowling champ was really snatched from his prime.
With a strike rate of 59.21, by 2010, Amir was at the forefront of the cricketing world. Indeed, he was heralded as one of Pakistan’s finest fast bowlers.
One Day Internationals
The thriving bowler also broke batting records during a one day international match against New Zealand in 2009. On this occasion, he scored 73 runs, which was more than what any number 10 batsman had ever achieved in the history of ODIs.
England v Pakistan at the Oval
Sadly, despite his string of successes, England vs Pakistan at Oval is the test match which truly made history and not because Amir impressed with his bowling.
After the conclusion of that test, reports emerged that Amir and Asif had delivered three deliberate no-balls during the match. It was said that the whole plot was put in place to scam bookmakers.
Mazhar Majeed was taped informing reporters, who were posing as gamblers, at exactly which moments the 3 no-balls would occur thus giving the gamblers inside information.
This infamous moment in which Amir collaborated resulted in his very public down-fall. This was one of the worst scandals in sports history.
5 years later, the news about his return has been featured every where. The ICC has allowed Amir to return to domestic cricket sanctioned by the PCB, which will eventually pave his path back to international cricket once his 5-year ban expires on 2nd September 2015.
After a bittersweet initial career, the bowler will take faltering steps back into the game.
Amir has been able to train regularly so there is no reason why this talented player cannot resume where he left off. However, it is likely that his game will take a hit, as he is not in the same psychological state as he used to be.
At 18, his main aim was to thrive; now he needs to repent. He still has many critics out there, and many who believe that he should not be allowed to return. Some team mates have also been vocal about how they would not want to see Amir return.
It is not going to be an easy road back for Amir. It will be challenging, it will be demanding, and it will require double the effort that he put in 5 years ago.
I believe everyone deserves a second chance, but I also truly believe that everyone who gets that second chance must make the most of it because no one ever gives you a third one.
This is Amir's second chance and he needs to grab it with both hands and make the ball talk once again.