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Day: February 5, 2011

Mohammad Amir banned. Call me selfish but I want to see him back – and soon.

So the ICC have banned three Pakistani cricketers for two different offences following the News of the World allegations of last year. Captain Salman Butt has been banned for ten years (five of them suspended) for failing to disclose information about a meeting and an agreement with a dodgy bookie. The two fast bowlers who bowled the no balls, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir (he was Aamer when he broke into the game – why has the spelling of his name changed?) have got seven (two suspended) and five respectively. So all three will at least be out of the game for five years but the likelihood of them ever returning seems low.

The only one who seems to have any realistic shot of taking the field again is Amir. The young left hander was like a breath of fresh air. A truly gifted swing bowler reminded many of Wasim Akram at his pomp. I first saw Amir during the Australian summer twelve months or so ago when he was the shining light in a pretty laborious Pakistani pace attack. He was making waves all over the cricketing world and every cricket fan thought a true great was being unearthed.

Then step forward to the English summer and the Pakistani tour. Again he impressed and showed he wasn’t a one-time wonder. The world was his oyster. He was set to become the poster boy of Pakistani cricket for the next decade or more. If there is one country where a great cricketer can truly have it all then it in Pakistan.

However a no ball later that seemingly was bowled deliberately in return for a few quid has ruined all that. Now these players will face a criminal trial in the UK and that trial will need to prove guilt whereas the ICC Panel didn’t. So I won’t be typing anything about any of them being guilty just yet but I know my heart sank when I read it was this kid involved last summer. I suspect others felt the same.

Now whether he felt pressured into doing it but senior players (if indeed he did do it) or that he was told it was the norm. The long and short of it is cricket is poorer that he won’t be around. Asif and Butt were fine players but neither was a great or had the potential to be one, Amir did. I feel like we are missing out on watching him play because of what happened and the world of cricket is poorer for it.

It makes me sad.

Criminal proceedings get underway in the spring and I know I’ll be watching them intently. If they are found not guilty it will be very interesting to see what happens next but I think the fear is that is less likely than the three of them spending time at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

I might be selfish but I want to see Amir again. He’ll only be 22 by the time his ban is up but I fear his name has been tarnished too much. We shall wait and see but true greatness being taken down before it has time to shine is a sad situation for us all.

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