Yes Ramiz Raja, Amir does deserve a second chance

Published: January 27, 2015
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On the one hand, Ramiz wants the rehabilitation of a young man. On the other hand, he wants to deprive him of the only skill he possesses.

Ramiz Raja is Pakistan’s most famous voice at the commentary box during a cricket match. His in-depth analysis of matches clearly depicts his love for the game.

As an international cricketer, he played between 1984 and 1997 – a career that spanned for 13 years. He played 57 Test matches and 198 ODIs, and also captained the team for a brief moment. Moreover, he was a part of the World Cup winning side in 1992. Since his retirement in 1997, he has played an integral part in making policies on countless occasions, in official and unofficial capacity. But above all, I believe that Ramiz’s biggest trait has been his integrity and goodwill.

During the notorious 90s, when almost every major cricketer from Pakistan was tainted and/or accused of wrongdoing and match-fixing scandals, Ramiz’s integrity remained unquestionable. I have nothing but praise for Ramiz as a person and a cricketer who is partially responsible for the success and thriving times in the history of Pakistan cricket.

But for the first time, I was forced to question his impartiality towards his own former team. His recent article on the return of Mohammad Amir, titled ‘Pakistan should not welcome Amir back’ is an exhibit of his biased opinion.

Ramiz takes a position that Pakistan should not permit the 22-year-old pacer to reintegrate with the Pakistan team and that he should not be allowed a chance to redeem himself for all the wrongdoings of his past. Ramiz writes,

“The international cricket fraternity is a small, tightly knit unit, and not a community where serious offenders are accepted and absorbed.”

He concludes his article by saying,

“Don’t get me wrong – I am all for rehabilitation and for finding ways to set a young man back on course in his life. But it just can’t be in the very game that he sullied and brought disrepute to.”

I see his argument as, at best, willy-nilly.

I ask Ramiz, why should Pakistan not welcome him back?

On the one hand, Ramiz wants the rehabilitation of a young man, while on the other he wants to deprive him, and the team, of the skills and talent he possesses. He says that Amir cannot be allowed to play in the game he once sullied.

Did the respected commentator refuse to play alongside players who brought disrepute to the game during the 90s? He kept on playing under the captaincy of Saleem Malik, who was banned for lifetime due to match-fixing charges. Ramiz was well aware of the scandal and what was happening around him, so did he choose the high ground and raise a voice against match-fixing then?

How come the same cricket fraternity accepted Samuel BadreeShane Warne, Mark WaughHerschelle Gibbs, and a few others, none of who were Pakistani, but were charged with match-fixing?

Dear Ramiz, did you know that most of the jails in Netherlands are being closed down due to lack of prisoners.

Do you know why that is so?

Because the Dutch jails, as well as their society, provide rehabilitation services to the prisoners by letting them return to their normal lives. They believe that if they are not isolated, their surroundings and the people around them help them recover. If they did not do so, based on your ‘black and white’ argument, they would not be renting out their jails to Belgium.

Five years is a long time for rehabilitation and recovery, and I believe Amir must have learnt a lot during these long years. He missed playing in three World Cup tournaments and numerous important matches. He was once an emerging star, about whom the sultan of swing, Wasim Akram, had said,

“Amir is much cleverer than I was at 18.”

Ramiz believes that Amir is being exonerated only due to his poverty and lack of education. This is partly correct. However, you cannot forget that he had immediately admitted his misconduct in the court of law, unlike Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt.

Ramiz then goes on to generalise on Amir’s “lust” by citing his private discussion with the pacer regarding how he had rejected a county contract due to a disagreement over “a few thousand pounds”.

My dear Ramiz, in case your judgement is clouded, this is not “lust” for money. In modern terms of sports business, this is called “professionalism”. Indian cricketers are even paid for TV interviews, let alone playing cricket for franchisees. Moreover, how can you cite private discussion to public domains in order to validate your argument and say that,

“He was not, after all, so gullible and naive about money matters.”

Of course, nobody should be that naive. So why should Amir?

Furthermore, Ramiz imagines Amir to be a “virus” who can spoil the “good work” being done by Misbahul Haq and the team. In a more civilised environment, Ramiz may have faced a lawsuit for using such narrative against a young man, but in Pakistan, this is just pep talk.

In the meanwhile, Amir is set to return to international cricket soon. And I thank God that Ramiz was not among the decision makers. For if it were up to him, he would ban all the Pakistani cricketers with even the slightest of accusations to return to the gentleman’s game.

A famous expression states:

“Some days you’re the bug, some days you’re the windshield.”

Amir was once a bug, but he deserves to get a second chance to redeem himself and act like a windshield.

From a world of fame, money and stardom to obnoxious disrepute, four walls of a jail, and bans, I am sure Amir has learnt his lesson, a tough one at that. His ban itself must have taught him more than his jail time. For a country that thrives on second chances, we should not be so quick to close doors on people because of their tainted image. We, for one, should know better.

With plenty of cricket around the corner, we need all the talent we can get. You, Mr Ramiz, are no one to judge a person. As long as Amir has decided to mend his ways, and has an abundance of talent that can possibly win us the trophy, I think it is a good decision to let him play again.

Faisal Nadeem

Faisal Nadeem

An electrical engineer with a PhD in Computer Engineering, Faisal Nadeem's interests include sports, art, literature, culture and religion.

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

  • zaffar

    Ramiz says what his masters want to say. No body should bother what his opinion is?Recommend

  • Sawja

    Just one question.. how many chances are we going to give to the corrupt people within our society? Be it our politicians, our religious leaders, or our celebrities. Its time to put the foot down and create an example for everyone, esp for the young people of our society that it is not acceptable, not today, not in the future.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    If Mohammed Amir wasn’t so darn talented, would the Pakistani nation be so enthusiastically backing him?

    When there is a gain to be had, calls for leniancy sound hollow. Why hide behind morality when the actual intention is convenience and greed?

    Can anyone honestly tell me if they would have supported equally a guy who wasn’t nearly as talented as Amir, but had done the same crime? I’m pretty sure mob would have descended upon him, all bloggers calling for his blood and seat on the team.

    Since, Amir playing for Pakistan is a gain for everyone here, all of a sudden, everyone have found their inner Gandhi in them and falling over backwards in condoning his crime and asking for forgiveness on behalf of him.

    So, in Pakistan the mantra is: You have power(which in this case is Amir’s talent), you can do whatever you want and get away with it.

    Future Pakistani Cricketers, Administrators, Engineers, Civil Servents and whatnot make sure you have talent, you can get away with anything short of murder,Recommend

  • Ammar

    Awesome article ….thats how you respond to baseless accusations – with class. The kid has paid his dues….I don’t know but this poor kid paid a big price for what he did. He deserves respect and opportunity.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Cricket is not only a game, its our passion, our honour and our prestige. Cricketers are not mere entertainers. They are our heroes and role models for our kids. They are our ambassadors, our image and our conscious. They make and break relations with other countries. Imagine Amir getting insults and rude behaviour from spectators and media. Imagine authorities taping his phone and following him everywhere. Imagine spectators shouting at him on every no and wide ball. No sir, he does not deserve a second chance.Recommend

  • Mustafa

    He should be allowed to play cricket but never for Pakistan!Recommend

  • Waseem Sarwar

    I second Ramiz. In a corrupt society like ours, we should make an example out of him and others. Otherwise induct Asif and Salman in these programs too.Recommend

  • pak

    Hey thats good… Our dog is dog, your dog is tommy… Your stewart binny, dhoni had fixing in IPLs and you still gave them in international cricket chances… but we have one player and you all are carving death for him… he paid all the dues and served the judgement of the murder hes done ok… now he should come back… we can do whatever we want to do if he is legally served the judgement…Recommend

  • OK

    Let him come back. I will be wishing that he gets smacked around by Rohit Sharma and then Ashwin on bouncy tracks and then gets dropped from the team for good.Recommend

  • andy

    Everyone deserves a second chance. Ramiz is a sellout. He will say whatever the BCCI want him to say. Recommend

  • Khan

    It is not IPL and Amir is not Yadev.Recommend

  • Saad.W

    This was the article I was searching when Ramiz Raja offended M.Amir return to international cricket..Hope this article now convince Ramiz that he was wrong..Recommend

  • Ali

    Well put ……. He should be allowed to play domestic to earn a livelihood , but the doors of international cricket should be closed on him forever . Can anyone assure cricket watching public that he will not do this again ? Next time he would be even smarter to cover his tracks better.
    Recommend

  • US CENTCOM

    I have mixed feelings toward Amir’s return. A part of me wants him to serve as a lesson to those who may ever think about cheating the game, but then the other part of me feels that he has paid his dues, and he should be given the opportunity to start afresh.

    Ali Khan
    Digital Engagement Team, USCENTCOMRecommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    In Pakistan, Terrorists roam free forget about petty criminals.Recommend

  • Nouman Ahmed

    If Mohammed Amir wasn’t so darn talented, would the Pakistani nation be so enthusiastically backing him? Yes. Got your answer?Recommend

  • Yusuf

    This very mentality is responsible for downfall of our country and culture. This mentality of second chances is what creates kings like nawaz sharif and zardaris. This mentality of another chance is what brings disrepute on our society from every corner of the earth. This second chance mentality is very reason we will continue to be ruled by corrupt politicians and our institutions will continue to reap rewards for the rich and continue the decline of poor. But lets all protect our second chance mentality.Recommend

  • Emmad

    Correction: The only time Rameez played under Saleem Malik was during the 92 tour of England, two years before the spot fixing scandal broke…Saleem though played under Rameez in 1997…None of the players you mentioned were ‘charged for match-fixing’Recommend

  • Waseem Sarwar

    did i mention Saleem Malik anywhere? :)Recommend

  • Moe

    An awsome article .. A perfect depiction of the decrepit moral state of this nation .. Since the entire nation is corrupt from top to down, we dont really consider corruption to be that big of a deal .. Thumps up to you sir .. You fit in perfectly here :)Recommend

  • Usman Khawar

    First things first. The is NOT a second chance. A “chance” is given when the punishment is not served. M. Amir has served the sentence. Not just the a ban of 5 years but an imprisonment of 6 months. So let’s not kid ourselves by using the term “second chance”.

    If you cut the hands of a convicted thief and return him to society, it’s not because of a “second chance”. It’s because he has served the punishment and you do not reserve the right to hold him any longer.

    Secondly comparing him to corrupt politicians is yet another injustice. Hardly any politician has served for his crimes. And this kid has not only served his time but shown remorse. It’s tragic, unjust and wrong to compare him to the corrupt politicians.

    A better way would be to hold a rehabilitation program for him, because that is more humane rather than punishing him further. Simply put, you do not have any right to punish him any more. He has served his time.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    I highly doubt it. Pakistani society is highly hypocritical as we have seen in International affairs.Recommend

  • Midhat

    Imagined if Shane Warne had been banned from Cricket. Would have been a bigger loss for the game itself than the cricketer. Talents like Amir deserve a chance for the sake of the game itself. It will be a big loss for Cricket if a talent like this goes to waste.. And he has pad his dues!Recommend

  • Rehan Ali

    I would request everyone who supports this comeback to at least drop the cloak of hypocrisy and allow the Pakistani politicians to abuse their power and political weight to amass wealth as like Amir they too possess a talent i.e. getting them elected and re-elected.
    As the author opines if you have talent than no amount of inflicted dishonor should keep you away from your game. As for integrity and respect… Pakistanis have come to live without them. At least his view portrays it that way.Recommend

  • Mazhar Khan

    Are you a licensing authority to give certificates of morality? You are also part of this nation which is “corrupt from top to bottom”, so you are no different according to your judgment and that’s why you also fit in here nicely.Recommend

  • Dr. M Faisal Nadeem

    It is strange that people in comments are venting out their hatred against the corrupt politicians and likes, against poor Mohammad Amir who has already paid the price of his wrongdoings.

    It reminds me of a scene from the movie, Munna Bhai MBBS; when Sunil Dutt protects a pickpocket thief on railway station from a highly charged mob who is about to lynch the thief. Sunil Dutt orates in front of the charged crowed and tells the thief that all these people have nothing to do with your purse-stealing. They are just venting out their personal anger due to poor governance, societal issues, domestic troubles, and generic cruelty of life.Recommend

  • Nouman Ahmed

    Lol and how can u judge 20 crore people on the basis of action of maybe hundreds or thousands people?Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Brilliant answer. I am stumped.Recommend

  • Sameera

    After all the criticism, he is back in domestic matches. Soon he is gonna make it to Internationals. Critics cannot keep Amir away from Cricket.Recommend

  • dawn

    “We, as a society, need to realise that justice has been done. Amir was declared guilty and subsequently completed his jail sentence and a five-year suspension from every sort of cricket as well. Not only that, Amir has been also a regular participant of the board’s rehabilitation programs and training sessions to educate younger cricketers to stay away from corruption.

    Why are most of his countrymen not ready to accept him back? Just because Amir gives the impression of being ‘clever’ and has sought the help of a former board chairman?

    He has promised that he will not disappoint the nation and will try to allay the concerns of the fans with his behaviour and performance on the field.

    That’s all we should be worried about for now.”Recommend

  • Nouman Ahmed

    Being sarcastic?Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop
  • Nouman Ahmed

    Appreciated. But there is no such thing as hypocrisy in international affairs. It is called diplomacy, which in fact Pakistani government lacks.Recommend

  • Shah-Ji

    Dishonest, Disgraced. Dishonored. Sentenced.
    Not only that three individuals.
    The brought it to whole Cricketing Nation.
    England refused to host anymore Pak home Series.
    Chappel demanded to ban Pak Team for 10 years.
    Some honest young men under Misbah have worked very hard to recapture
    the lost honor and dignity for the Nation.
    You want to get the bite from same hole
    Simply NO NO NO…Recommend