Would you want Mohammad Amir back if he was not talented?

Published: August 13, 2013
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If the PCB or the ICC want to sweep the game of cricket from corruption once and for all then the 'zero-tolerance' motto must be implemented in its true letter and spirit.

From the moment the News of the World (NoTW) published the spot-fixing story, the cricketing world, it seemed, was taken by storm. A large number of Pakistani cricket fanatics went about expressing soft sentiments for the young Mohammad Amir and each had their own argument.

The majority seem to converge on two points:

(A) he is exceptionally talented

(B) He is very young and has a good amount of cricket stamina left in him.

This school of thought seems to believe that the young fast bowler should be given a second chance to play sooner than the expiration of the five year ban imposed by the ICC.

Fans are fans and they will always want to see their heroes in action, at any cost, so they can’t be blamed for their emotions, but the authorities that are administering the game have a greater responsibility. Their role should be to refrain from transmitting a one-sided opinion. If a cricket board chief hints of having a soft corner for a player then it should not be appreciated – no bias should.

The above mentioned points that are playing their role in seeing Amir’s early return to the field are not persuasive enough for me. I disagree with statements like ‘he is very young and was trapped’ simply because he was not young enough in terms of the experience he carried under his belt. Before the infamous Lord’s Test, Mohammad Amir had played a fair amount of cricket and was taught the rules and regulations by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

My question to everyone is – what if Amir was not exceptionally talented? Would your reaction have still been the same?

By incessantly talking about Amir’s return, the Pakistan cricket authorities are indicating to the world that we are probably short of talent in Pakistan or willing to compromise ethics for cricketing gains. What this does, combined with our previous indiscretions, is raise questions about whether talent is the only decisive factor when considering the fate of a player involved in malpractice.

Amir mentioned in his first interview to Sky News that since he was ‘not used to bowling no-balls’ he had to practice rigorously before he was able to make those notorious deliveries at Lords. Here I agree with him, because his track record suggests the same – 14 Tests and 24 No-balls – but what happened in his seventh test match where he over-stepped 13 times is glaring evidence.

Keeping this point in mind, I would like to remind you all about the incident where Amir was seen talking on his mobile phone during a domestic match in Pakistan and was also penalised. Therefore, describing him as purely innocent and only a victim of the trap allegedly set by former skipper Salman Butt and the others, is not an argument I am willing to digest so easily.

When he stated that a man named ‘Ali’ blackmailed him – he was probably right but then he, Amir, must have done something before the England tour due to which Mazhar Majeed was able to blackmail him as well. Who knows if his seventh test – against Australia – was the starting point of the relationship between Amir and the spot-fixing gang?

If the environment is deliberately being molded in Amir’s favour then this shows that either we, in Pakistan, are short of talent and don’t believe that there is another Amir present in the entire country or we don’t want Amir to open up any further so that any other possible culprits can remain unharmed.

If, at the end of the day, the PCB or the ICC want to sweep the game of cricket from corruption once and for all, then the ‘zero-tolerance’ motto must be implemented in its true letter and spirit.

Muhammad Asif Khan

Muhammad Asif Khan

Head of Sports section at News One TV and a TV show host of 'Sports One.' He has also worked with Business Plus and Indus TV. He tweets @twitter.com/mak_asif

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