No, Mohammad Amir, your spot fixing wasn’t a ‘minor’ offence

Published: December 7, 2015
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Although the spot-fixing scandal was both terrible and humiliating, I felt the cricketing community was being a little harsh on the young sportsman. PHOTO: AFP

Of the three cricketers convicted and punished in the infamous spot-fixing scandal, I felt sympathy only for Mohammad Amir, since the left-arm fasted bowler was the youngest of the trio, and quickly put himself (as probably advised by his lawyer) at the mercy of the courts.

On the other hand, both senior bowler Mohammad Asif and skipper Salman Butt fought legal battles to the very end. In fact, Salman Butt shamelessly exploited the nation’s hearts on Pakistani news shows by claiming that there were conspiracies against him. Finally, after exhausting all good will and legal recourse, Butt came clean. This is why the disgraced ringleader should ever be allowed anywhere near a cricket field.

PHOTO: AP

Recently, Pakistani opener Mohammad Hafeez and World-Cup-winner-turned-pundit Ramiz Raja expressed disgust at the return of Mohammad Amir. Hafeez says he simply doesn’t want to play in the same squad as the tainted cricketer, while Raja claims Amir isn’t nearly as innocent as he has been portraying.

Penning an article for ESPN Cricinfo, Raja wrote,

“The argument put across in Amir’s favour is that his talent was compromised at a young age due to poor judgement and his naiveté, and because he comes from a poor family. If that is the case, there are millions of other Pakistani youth who have had a tough start in life, and less than ideal upbringings. Does that give them a licence to use underhanded means and cheat to make a living?

“In fact, to quote an incident, I was approached to find out why Amir had turned down a more-than-decent offer made to him by an English county just a day before he was caught. During my conversation with him regarding the offer, I realised that because the offer was a few thousand pounds short of what he expected, he was willing to let go of an opportunity to play and establish himself at a renowned and historic county. I came to the conclusion that he was not, after all, so gullible and naive about money matters.”

Other Pakistani cricketers, as well as international superstars, including Kevin Pietersen, have also expressed dismay at Amir’s return.

Although the spot-fixing scandal was both terrible and humiliating, I felt the cricketing community was being a little harsh on the young sportsman. After all, he had paid his penalty, and if he was remorseful for a crime he had committed as a teenager, he deserved a second chance.

This was until I watched Amir’s interview on a TV show called Morning with Farah, with Farah Hussain.

To start with, Amir, much like Salman Butt, tries to turn it all into a nonsensical conspiracy theory hatched by the media,

“The way things were talked about wasn’t the way it happened. It wasn’t the way it was shown to the nation. Regarding the media… I feel sorry (for the way they behaved). One should take care of a country’s respect themselves, and the media should have saved our nation’s respect.”

Amir feels bad about the media’s behaviour, but what about his own? Did the Pakistan and British media accept money from a criminal and deliberately overstep on the cricket field to defraud bookies?

No, Amir, it was you who brought disgrace.

PHOTO: AP

Here he continues with his wild theory,

“If you look at England, (there) they killed a black guy. So, they let set all of London on fire. I think within one week, everything was clear and no one could tell that anything (bad) had happened. I was there and the media didn’t highlight the issue the way it was happening. They showed very small small events… minor events… In the same way if you want to create and save your country’s respect you have to do it through media. Such a small thing (was the spot fixing event), and you showed it through media.”

While Amir’s point about excessive sensationalism on Pakistani TV is valid, it is shocking to note how he displays little regret for his actions, and how he makes his wrongdoing out to be a minor transgression.

Here, Farah, the interviewer pleads with Amir to show some sanity,

 “OK, but this was a big deal…”

Amir cuts her off,

“But the way they showed it was if it was something huge (raising his hands), but in reality, it was tiny.” (Bringing his thumb and index finger together)

Sensing the shock written all over Farah’s face, Amir continues,

“What do you want me to say? A small thing is made so big here. It was spot-fixing but we were tried in a match-fixing court. What do you think this points to? Any intelligent person can figure it out. We were punished for a crime we did not commit.”

Next, Amir speaks of ex-cricketers who fed him conspiracy theories. He summarises,

“I would like to say to the media to show the event but stay in your limits.”

Farah is visibly upset. Desperate to find some compassion from Amir, she asks him to speak of his deceitful deed, but Amir will have none of it,

“Again, we will have to go back to the same thing. Did I do it, or was I forced to do it?”

Farah wonders if there is so much pressure on a cricketer, that he can be compelled to do something against his better judgment. Amir explains how a normal person asked to commit a crime can report it to his superiors, but here, his captain was the one beckoning him. Amir also reminds Farah of the strength of the murky betting mafia. Finally, Amir says he will never let history repeat itself, should the opportunity arise again.

Certainly, Amir has my sympathies for being roped in by a captain he trusted, that too when he was a teenager. He was also likely frightened by the thought of defying the powerful mafia lurking in the shadows of the profession he was a part of.

That being said, if Amir didn’t have his skipper to rely on, he could have turned to his manager, coach, the PCB, the ICC, or even the media. Although Amir was a young man, he obviously wasn’t a child, and it is disappointing to note how he blames the TV channels, his captain, external pressures, but has no words of repentance for his own sins.

Love him or hate him, we must remember how Shahid Afridi’s name came up as someone incorruptible during wiretapped discussions between the corrupt and those who exposed them.

PHOTO: AP

Yes, Amir was targeted because he was more vulnerable, and he has served his sentence, but should he be welcomed back into the international team with open arms?

I am not so sure anymore.

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

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

  • Saad

    Yes he should be welcomed. Everyone commits mistake and He has been punished for what he did. This article is as lame as Hafeez and Ramiz commentsRecommend

  • syed

    Everybody deserve second chance and you are quoting people like Kevin Pietersen who himself was thrown out of his own team for what he did. Again, why Rameez wrote article in favour of Samual when he was involved and punished for match fixing. Amir was not involved in match fixing and did not throw away the match. He was man of the match and man of the series for that particular series.Recommend

  • Sane

    He must not be in the Pakistan cricket team, anyways. He cheated and earned a bad name for country.Recommend

  • JB

    I for one am in support of Amir coming back in the team. However, Amir has to understand that he would have to regain the trust of the team as well as the nation and he should be ready for any backlash that may come from his inclusion. Mind you, the backlash would stay for a long time (maybe for a few years). Amir has to be patient and be more mature than he has ever been in his life. He has to realize that he has to give more. And that can be done through consistent performances and staying humble. Stop defending yourself and accept the fact that you were in the wrong. No use giving excuses now. It would only hurt you more.Recommend

  • Syeda Ali

    He had all my sympathies before I read about this interview. If he’s so not sorry, he shouldn’t be allowed againRecommend

  • Saj

    Its all relative. Compared to mass murder, terrorism etc. spot fixing in a test match is a minor offense, a victimless crime. Aamir may regret getting caught more than committing the crime itself, but the bottom line is that he has served his time and deserves a second chance. The rest of us should not be so judgmental.Recommend

  • raj

    I really think this should be over now. I am also sure that he has learnt alot from his mistakes and he won’t do such things in the future. The thing that worries me is the media (including bloggers) who still try to fire up the situation even more. There has been a lot of cases when sports person got banned and came back without much hindrances Shane warne being prime example. Now if some one says that wasn’t big deal then thats big ILLUSION. Crime is a Crime whether it is a drug abuse or spot fixing. None of the media now even remembers what he did and he is a STAR. Its always in Pakistan’s favour to leave the dust behind and move on of course learning from mistakes is better but from one interview you can’t judge a person.Recommend

  • Zahid Haseeb

    Every crime does not have death plenty ! He cheated people love(we know it), it does not means we hang his career till death!!!Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    I can’t believe this man’s audacity.

    Is Pakistan really going to allow this man to represent their country. This man is talking about media, God and how others are at their fault but not his own deeds. Disgusting.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Whether it is Sreesanth or Amir, these are people who have brought disgrace to their nation.

    There is no point wondering why he is so ungrateful leave alone being so unpatriotic when you have encouraged him in the first place by pardoning his unpardonable act.Recommend

  • Nabidad

    He paid the price for his wrongdoing. And he is already realised it. Now it is whole Pakistani nation’s responsibility to back him. There is no doubt about it that he is a great talent.Recommend

  • Abuzar Jamil

    He is super talented, he has served his punishment, he came clean from the start and last but not the least, we don’t have a world class fast bowler right now. We should admire Hafeez’s reaction but he should concentrate on showing that love through his performance for which he is paid and for Ramiz Raja, he is a good commentator but I guess being a part of world cup winning squad brought him much fame rather than his performance on the field.Recommend

  • ASAD

    Just for the sake of a blog getting published you write anything? Come on he has already faced his term for his sin.Recommend

  • ASAD

    Do I need to remind you of your own players who were caught in spot fixing and no one took action? You are such a hypocrite!Recommend

  • Saad Amin

    Does anyone remember Zulqernain Haider! He came on media with the truth. What happened to him?Recommend

  • Xpecialist

    Amir would do himself a great favor by keeping his mouth shut and staying away from media. He’s still naive and is trying to look at his deeds from a bird eye’s view while media [anywhere in the world] loves to knitpick minutest details to try to make some juicy stories. Every civilized society accepts giving second chance to an offender according to the extent of damages done by the offender. Amir did the crime as well as the time, now time for him to rebuild his career and character, but now by giving a free run to his mouth, rather to his cricketing skills.Recommend

  • Ali S

    I think he should be given he second chance but he should have to prove himself all over again (starting back at the domestic level). He’s done the crime and he’s done the time, his talent is exceptional and (aside from that interview) he’s publicly expressed remorse and guilt for what he did.

    Besides, the truth is that we don’t have many bowlers of Amir’s caliber – it’s a shame that he’d throw such potential away.Recommend

  • I m khan

    If all politicians get a chance to represent their country and to ‘serve’ their fellow countrymen (again and again) than what is the problem with M Aamir? At least he has the courage to say in public and admit his mistake. Our religion also supports to give forgive your enemy. He was below 20 and forced by his captain to follow his orders. will support his comeback to the Pakistan national team.Recommend

  • Rohail Usman

    committed crime and faced punishment, I would like to add committed crime of theft and punished for robbery indeed, He must return, Pakistan needs him, cricket needs him… He is an excellent talent. He and the other two have also completed their punishment so there should be no question on whether they should return or not because they must if they perform!Recommend

  • asad

    If he comes back, I am gonna say good bye to Pakistan cricket for good.
    I would not keep the same security guard once he is found guilty of a robery/crime even if he has served the punishment. Amir should look for other means of earning .. BPL for instanceRecommend

  • Swaadhin

    Think about it, I could be a Chinese and not an Indian but still end up making the same comment because it just makes sense.

    Whether Amir is an Indian or a Pakistani, it simply does not matter, he brought disgrace to the nation just like Sreesanth. These people should never be allowed to represent their nation at any level.Recommend

  • gp65

    No one took action? Those people were never allowed to play for India.
    If you are talking about IPL – please know it is not covered by ICC.Recommend

  • Khanum

    The question whether Amir is remorseful or not is now obsolete. Not because it’s not important but, because it has been answered by Amir again, and again. His official statement published at the time his ban was lifted states, “I’m full of shame for hurting my teammates and well-wishers..” and “I will make the emotions of regret and shame, my strongest weapon on field”. If this is not remorse, then what is? Is it what our politicians do..infinite, shameless corruption followed by a theatrical display of innocence? Amir has served his sentence as well but, still, all we expect from this young, talented power-house is for him to keep saying sorry every-time, everyplace. Now, for a change, how if we step up the ladder of collective consciousness and prove that we, as a nation, know how to redeem our past. We know how to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them in future. This is how individuals grow, this is how nations rise. Let’s make this is a lesson for many others among us who need to apologize for their past, for a better future of this country.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    I agree with you. My concern was his lack of remorse. Yes, everyone deserves a second chance.Recommend

  • Shah Muhammad

    What an idiot this author is who thinks he is some smartypants. Aamir is making a relative argument. And continuous remorse is not a part of his punishment sentence. He has served his punishment. He did not kill anyone. And in this country known killers become presidents, a known loan defaulter is the PM, and a known killer leads the biggest city of the country. Compared to all that this is minor.Recommend

  • Umair

    Noman Ansari , do you know what is the meaning of criminal ? .. i am sure you’ll be wondering it means the one who commits crime… no my friend all of us commit crime in small or large manner but the one who gets CAUGHT becomes a “criminal”. if you are so skeptical about Aamir were you sleeping when Justice Qayyum presented his report about Wasim Akram and went lenient with him .. Wasim Akram was suspicious, But he was a brilliant cricketer.. if you think nobody is above the GAME then you must take notice of the past events happened and how it was neglected. Everyone deserves a second chance. The accused should be humble but People should be humble about it aswell. My friend whatever you try to show through media won’t help! hope you gain some sense and soon you are going to be eating your words when Amir will win your team Cricket Matches!Recommend

  • Khurram

    they want him to apologise in every morning showRecommend

  • Yash Vora

    no need for him – don’t u have other options [ players ]Recommend

  • Parvez

    This boils down to …should we think with our head or our heart. I feel its the game called cricket and if we start thinking with our hearts it would certainly not be cricket.Recommend

  • ASAD

    I checked your profile before commenting so you are an Indian and not a Chinese. Doesn’t matter if IPL is not covered by ICC, people of India support it, that’s a perfect example of hypocrisy!
    ICC should have banned him for life, but if ICC gave him a term for 5 years and he completed it and then who are we to pass a judgment?Recommend

  • Usman Arshad

    He should be given a chance.
    We give chances to the same politicians, so why not him? Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    He does not Noman, he was old enough to understand he was representing his country.

    Just because the politicians are corrupt, the sportspersons need not go corrupt too.Recommend

  • lone

    The author is making a meal of this tragic situation. Amir had done his time – simple as that. The News of the World is in court for under hand tactics. This was not match fixing..it was pure greed set up by NOW so called the Shiekh who is being tried for illegal practices. What does that tell you? Amir did wrong but under pressure. Let’s wish him best for the future and pray he had learned his lesson.Recommend

  • Syed Babar Shah

    such a biased post – you forgot about Shahid’s ball tempering attempts , don’t you term it as corruption?Recommend

  • Malik Ehsan

    To all those who argue Aamir didn’t murder anybody I would say he is not being murdered either, to those who say he has served the penalty the answer is thats why he has been allowed to play cricket but it DOESN’T mean that he should be taken back into “NATIONAL TEAM” he simply isn’t worth it. Moreover anybody who commits a crime gets away with it in Pakistan whether its a politician, actor,model,businessman or bureaucrat, do you want sportsmen to be added into this list? If Yes, I feel sorry for u n this countryRecommend