By Obaid ur Rehman.
Pakistan is taking on England right after a long gap of six years with the series starting from today at Lord’s. Pakistan’s tour of England has always been very exciting with all the media focusing on the field and trying to raise any controversy or conflict. This is exactly what happened last time July 2010, when Salman Butt, Muhammad Amir and Muhmmad Asif were found guilty of delivering deliberate No-Balls after News of the World carried out a sting operation and raised the biggest controversy to hit the world of sports.
All of three players immediately suspended by International Cricket Council (ICC) and received 5-year cricket ban and, together with their sports agent Mazhar Majeed, they also received jail terms as well. The spot-fixing scandal gave massive shock to the cricket world and everyone reacted strongly and demanded life-bans on the trio. Some of the cricket experts and fans highlighted that Muhammad Amir should be given leniency as he was a teenager and too young to understand that he was being misguided and forcefully indulged into the scandal. Muhammad Amir was the one who accepted his mistake readily and created further problems for then captain Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif. After the court’s procedures, Muhammad Amir also attended ICC’s rehabilitation lectures and sessions and it was Muhammad Amir’s behaviour and his cooperation with ICC and PCB due to which his return in international cricket after serving the ban became immediate and a bit easier.
Before the spot-fixing scandal, cricket experts were considering Muhammad Amir as the one to continue the legacy of the great Wasim Akram and his reverse-swing. Since his return to international cricket, Muhammad Amir, at his very best, has shown his class at every level, be it Bangladesh Premier League, Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand, Asia Cup T20 or World T20. Yet after coming from a long gap of 5 to 6 years, Amir is swinging the ball late on both the sides and realistically saying, it becomes sometimes difficult to even believe that Muhammad Amir has been out of international touch for that much long period of time.
After being through to some visa issues, Muhammad Amir is now with the team and about to resume his long lost career exactly on the same venue from where he had to leave international cricket, that is Lord’s – Home of Cricket. Amir’s return to international circuit in ODIs and T20s’ formats has formed a lot of breaking news uptil now, but his return to major format, that too against England and in Lord’s especially where the spot-fixing scandal took place, has created a lot of hype on social and international media. Everybody is eyeing Muhammad Amir’s return more than that of Pakistan’s clash with England in whites.
This is obvious that Muhammad Amir will face possibly harsh reaction from the crowd when he’ll step out there in the field. He is fully prepared to face the consequences and mentally strong enough to handle the pressure which is even exerted by England players as well. Alastair Cook himself stated that Amir should be ready to face harsh words and got critical response for his statement. But we know that whenever Pakistan tours England, the guests try their level best to play with the psyche of the opposition. History is full of such incidents; one to remember is of mega Oval-Controversy too.
Misbah-ul-Haq & Alastair Cook pose with the Investec Test Trophy ahead of First Test Match at Lord’s
Before Amir’s return, players from Pakistan Cricket Team and other former players were strictly against his return but now once all the matters got settled and Amir, through his performance, has justified his place in playing eleven, the team member and both the captains themselves are backing Amir and supporting him on his return to Test Cricket as well. Wahab Riaz, Azhar Ali, Misbah-ul-Haq stated clearly that they will face the consequences from front in case of Amir and they now support and back Amir completely. Test Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq has even said that Amir is almost the same as he was in his teenage and is completely ready to become world’s best bowler in a short span of time. Wahab Riaz considers Amir as his younger brother and has been playing an important role in helping him to adjust in the dressing room’s environment since his return to international circuit.
Amir, with his efforts to maintain friendly and cooperative environment in dressing room along with the support of his teammates, will now step in Lord’s with the higher hopes and determination. He is aiming to start the Test Matches campaign with the win. The way he has bowled last week in a side match against Somerset with the figure of 3/36 in first innings, has really put English batsmen in a worry. Former English cricketer Marcus Trescothick has clearly warned English batsmen that it won’t be easy for them to face the late swings of Muhammad Amir.
Muhammad Amir has been through to a very difficult phase. There is absolutely no doubt in it that once you have committed a mistake or a crime, you should be held accountable for it. But once you are dragged into some crime without knowing the possible outcomes, being misused by someone and then you have to sacrifice the precious time of your age then it becomes very difficult to cope with such circumstances. Inspite of all the hardships, Muhammad Amir didn’t give-up, he did whatever ICC asked him to do, he cooperated with PCB and its programs and he did everything that could pave his way towards playing international cricket again. With the fact that those 6 years cannot be brought back, the inspiration and his unique talent in Muhammad Amir is still there. He is more determined and passionate to play from the national side and to serve Pakistan so that he could regain the lost stardom which once he had.