A second chance for Amir

Published: February 9, 2012
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The bad guys don’t show up at your door and ask you to fix. Surely, they must have their methods of trapping you. PHOTO: AFP

For a long time, I was so gutted by what Mohammad Amir did that I felt his crime was unforgivable. He had been with the team for a year; a year of travelling, a lot of learning and a lot of guidance. But I guess the guidance came from all the wrong quarters; Salman Butt was his best friend on the Pakistan cricket team, as he once claimed during the World T20 in the West Indies. And that friendship cost him.

Did anyone expect a street-smart character like Amir to be so gullible? Was he so innocent that he just got sucked into this dirty game?

Let’s go back in time a little.

Amir was in a league of his own. He was just too good with the little red cherry in his hand and the statistics proved it. Five-fors against the Australians and the English – an unforgettable and devastating spell at Leeds against Australia, with two gems bowled at Steven Smith and Mitchell Johnson.

Aged just a touch above 17, he set up the tone for victory in the World T20 Final – and that too at Lords, Surely, he was someone special.

For the next one year, the accolades just did not stop coming. He was praised and celebrated as the boy to look out for. Fame, money, stardom – he had it all; it all happened for Amir at the tender age of 17. A dream come true perhaps?

Surely, this fairytale too had to have its share of bad patches. But such a rough patch? After securing five-fors in the last two Test matches he played, Amir may have been dreaming of new sponsorship deals, more media attention and more cricketing fame. Surely, a stint at a young offenders institute would not have been on his mind. A five year ban from a game that probably means everything to him, would not have crossed his mind even in his wildest dreams. But this is how real life works. You pay the price for your wrong actions, and sometimes you pay so much more.

But Amir may have paid more than he ought to.

So what will become of this young man?

People like  former England captain Mike Brearley feel that Amir deserves leniency. When we talk about Amir’s culpability, it is important to understand how his crime was committed. Amir was young, clearly corruptible and was perhaps sucked into the corrupt culture by his ‘friends’. The bad guys don’t show up at your door and ask you to fix. Surely, they must have their methods of trapping you. In my head, it plays like any Hollywood movie where a clandestine operation takes place. When you make a small mistake, you are caught in the net. This is perhaps when the threats start floating in. And before you know it, you are in the grips of people you should be far from associating with.

When I put myself in Amir’s shoes, I shudder for a second; what would I have done in a similar situation? When I think of this situation, I remember a time when I was robbed at gunpoint; before the incident took place, I used to talk big about how I would kick the robber in the guts and escape. When it actually happened, with that 9 mm pistol placed on my head, I froze. I had nowhere to run, nothing came to my mind. I gave up.

Perhaps Amir gave in.

When it comes to the question of whether he deserves a place back on the Pakistan team, I feel that after serving his sentence, he should be able to build a new life. But will cricket let someone like Amir back? The powers that be allowed Marlon Samuels to make a comeback. But there was a major difference; Samuels did not commit a criminal offence – he violated ICC’s anti-corruption laws.

Call me biased, but like Amir needs cricket, cricket needs Amir’s magic. Asif and Salman will be well past their prime when they complete their bans, and my basis for pleading Amir’s case is not just that he was a gullible teenager. What he did was wrong, without any doubt. He admitted that he made a mistake. We need to accept that and move on from it.

My empathy for Amir really just boils down to the fact that he will still have a considerable amount of overs left in his tank once the ban expires. Of course, the underlying assumption is that his bowling will do the talking in the domestic circuit if he gets back in action. With that in mind, the question really is this: will he be forgiven?

I feel he should get a second chance. In fact, he deserves it.

 

Imran Ahmad Khan

Imran Ahmad Khan

The author is a student of journalism at Columbia University. Before this, he worked for the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan Super League. He tweets @imranahmadkh

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • zeeshanmuneer

    i agree with u that Amir gave a 2nd chance,he deserves itRecommend

  • http://clinicalhammer.blogspot.com/ Khalid FAROOQ

    I am a big fan of Amir and I strongly believe that he has had enough of the punishment. What is worse than going to jail at such an age. His sin is a collective sin of our society. Let us accept him back and commit ourselves to save our children from such things.Recommend

  • Khan

    Your article speaks a lot about the mindset of our society where its very easy to forgive the ‘corrupt to the core’ ones and kick out all those with good character. He was not trapped rather he decided willingly to cheat .. If you put a gun in front of 18 year old .. not every one will take it and start shooting but only a criminal will do that.
    I wonder where were all these people when our real talented players like Abdul Razaq, Saeed Anwar, Mohd Yusuf, Basit Ali, Rashid Latif, and at least a dozen more players.
    You don’t make a convicted murderer a security guard … If we give him another chance for the rest of his career people around the world will repeat this incident which brought not only shame to us as a nation but we could have got banned from the cricket just because of these cheats.
    I really don’t know what do people see so special about him … and when will we stop comparing newbies with our legends … First it was Mohd Sami that we thought will become another Younis & Akram because he had speed and can swing both ways and now Aamir, who has taken only 25 wickets (mostly on bouncy pitches where A.Mehmood & A.Razaq were successful too) so far and has not played again big teams and has taken only couple of wickets against Australia & India.
    We are a country of fast bowlers like Sarfaraz, Imran, Akram & Younus, there are dozens of Akrams & Imrans .. we only need to find those raw players instead of defending cheaters.Recommend

  • Afaaq

    Its not just about giving him a second chance. He needs to prove that he deserves another chance. He should spend the remaining of his time doing something productive. Which shows that he has worked hard to be back into contention. He should go back to school get educated. Do some sort of public awareness campaigns about the lure and evils of being caught into something bigger than himself. Recommend

  • ASAD MALIK

    plz give him a chance plzRecommend

  • Imran

    @ Khan

    To begin with, Amir has 98 international wickets to his name, not 25. Also, FYI, out of his 14 test matches, in which he claimed 51 wickets, he played 4 each against England and Australia and 3 each against New Zealand and Sri Lanka. In the last six matches he played, he picked up 30 wickets at an average of 19 (against Australia and England). So that should put to rest any doubts that you might have regarding his talent.

    And as far as the rest is concerned, it is your opinion and I respect it fully. In fact, I shared the same feeling for a long time.

    Cheers!Recommend

  • http://yahoo.com Nadz

    I think its wrong to say ‘he deserve the second chance’ rather he has to earn a second chance by whatever positive things he can do as an individual.Recommend

  • Fahad Siddiqui

    SHOULD NOT GIVE IN
    Whatever the case may be I still think an example needs to be set, until when will we give into doctrine of necessity. About time that we give Nation’s pride and prejudice more importance then corrupt talent. His name will forever be tainted and even if he wins the World Cup for us single handidly I can see how his Man of the Match Ceremony will look like.Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    I hope Aamer is back soon in Pakistan colours.Recommend

  • Afe

    What a joke – “cricket needs Amir’s magic”.

    This shows our mindset, do you really think individuals are more important than institutions? In reality, it is the game that must go on even if it means few self-inflicted casualties like Amir.Recommend

  • DejaVu77

    There is no iota of doubt on his talent. However we must understand that he has been only punished for being involved in spot fixing in England and he wasn’t trailed for bringing disrespect to green flag which he represented. I would have loved to see him growing up to be another legend in cricketing history of Pakistan but we should not try to seek exceptions and reason out things to reach to a personalized solution. Your logic of gun point snatching has no resemblance. In such a case you are being a victim of crime against your wish whereas in Aamir case he was assisting his partner. Recommend

  • Khan

    @Imran:
    I was referring to his ODI wickets … which is the most watched and celebrated format of the cricket.

    FYI, out of his 14 test matches, in
    which he claimed 51 wickets,

    I will never defend a cheat no matter how great he is … but lets get in to breakdown of those 51 wickets you referred to.

    Mohammadd Amir

    He played 3 tests in Asia and took 6 wickets at an average of 43.50
    He played 6 tests in Europe & took 30 wickets at an average of 19.80
    He played 5 tests in Aus/NZ & took 15 wickets at an average of 41.93

    There are two things to remember, one that its easier to get wickets on bouncy surfaces i.e England & Australia etc than on flat batting pitches of Asia. Secondly, Its easy to get few wickets at start of your career, As a new bowler many batsment don’t know your technique yet but good or best player maintain their averages throughout the career and that reflects your class .. people compare him with our legends without getting in to details .. lets just compare his statistics with that of Waqar Younis’s test career now,

    Waqar Younis:-

    In Asia: Played 47 tests took 215 wickets at an average of 20.64
    In Europe: Played 10 tests took 45 wickets at an average of 27.48
    In Aus/NZ: Played 15 tests took 14 wickets at an average of 31.06

    Wasim Akram’s average was 22.53 Asia, 28.73 Europe and 20.05 in Oceania.Recommend

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/PakistaniHindus?feature=guide Pakistani Hindu

    Alas..!! Pakistanis still support such traitors who “sell motherland for money”.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/talentidols sanaahamed

    Totally agree with you. PCB has to give him another chance he is a talented player.Recommend

  • http://none Juzer Mohd Hussain

    I think he has learned so much from that mistake.PCB has to give him another chance he is a excellent bowler and good future of pakistan cricket.Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    He is good … no doubt … but ALAS … he should get a taste of reality …

    Please … this has been, and is a trait of our nation … no wonder we are again and again being governed by cheaters who are given second chances !!!

    Let’s finish fraud, “jhoot”, cheating and “dhoka” from our society .. giving second chances will not help the cause … it is written all over our history ….Recommend

  • zehra

    no dnt want hm back, it is already that we forgive corrup leaders that we are still in ther same vicious circle, i dnt want a cheat to be playing again, it should be his long lasting punishment, he should nto be allowed to play for the flag he sold for his luxuries, the lords incident was not the fisrt as i feel, he must have tried before also, lured by greed and easy money, whatever may it be, i find it more horrifying that such a young boy had the courage to cheat and pull off such a stunt, without fearing anytihng, must be glaoting rather how he manged to make additonal money! it was his cheekiness his over confidence his arrogrance actually.
    i feel now is the time we start taking stabnd agianst corruption,fne may not have a talented bolwer like him , i am ok with a mediocre hardworknig honest player than a progidy kid who is unrealiable!!

    wish has a pollin this blog, i want to see how many could forgive corruption? i personally feel we have carried the curse of corruption far too long, it is time to swallow the bitterpill nowRecommend

  • Mohammad Rao

    I believe that there have to be sacrifices made for the good of the nation as a whole. We have already had our reputation ruined and are now as corrupt people.

    I have sympathy for Amir, but his punishment will act as a deterrent to all the kids that are prone to fall into bookies’ traps.

    If the new generation of cricketers comes up to be clean, thne Amir’s punishment will be a success.

    We have enough talent in our streets. We can live without Amir’s talent, but we absolutely cannot live as a nation known for its corrupt ways.Recommend

  • Rehan Ali

    The trio should be tried in Pakistan for bringing the country’s name into disrepute. They knew what they were doing and did it. We would have to put our foot down to prevent such happenings in the future.

    If they had even an iota of “love of the game” let alone country they wouldn’t have committed such acts. Hence, Amir doesn’t deserve a chanceRecommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/242/nicholas-sharaf/ Nicholas Sharaf

    Amir was found guilty and has been tried according to the court of law. No exceptions.Recommend

  • Imran

    No one is asking you to reduce his ban. All I am saying is, once the ban is served, he should be welcomed back without any extra baggage. We all make mistakes and he made this huge mistake…and he is paying an equally huge price for it.Recommend

  • Khan

    Wish to see Mohammad Amir back as a normal. It is enough for him but we do not want to see Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt as they are trouble creater.

    Khan
    United Kingdom.Recommend

  • Atirav

    Well written bro! I can understand what you’re trying to say. It’s really sad to see such a talented young bowler not playing cricket. But its necessary that he has to pay the price for what he did. An example has to be set; if you let Amir go, you are giving out the wrong message. Sacrifice has to be made for the greater good.Recommend

  • Parvez

    He certainly does not deserve it – no way.
    Let him play county cricket or provincial or company sponsored cricket and earn his place to play for Pakistan again.Recommend

  • intelektual

    He confessed and served his time !! learn to forgive people ! Cuz he sure as hell learned a lot from his mistakes ! this terrible mindset that no one will or can change is smothering and down right wrong. Everyone deserves a second chance and especially after he has paid for what he did wrong by Penalties, Prison & public humiliation.Recommend

  • Habib Kazi

    The question should not be whether Amir should be forgiven under the umbrella of a teen, but the question should rather be, “what if he is forgiven and yet bowls another no ball?” Recommend