The selection of Mohammad Amir to Pakistan’s national squad stirred up a hornet’s nest not just in the local media but also had the nation and former and current cricketers divided about the merits or demerits of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s decision.
Two of his teammates Mohammad Hafiz and Azhar Ali refused to join the camp and relented only after some convincing by the PCB.
Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were banned for accepting money in a spot-fixing scandal involving a Test match at Lord’s against England in 2010.
The three players and their agent Mazhar Majeed were jailed by a British court in 2011.
They were also banned by the ICC for five years.
Amir was then only 18.
The ban has been served and Amir served notice of his precocious talent by handily claiming wickets by the bagful.
22 wickets in four non-first class games, another 34 in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy capped by another 14 in the Bangladesh Premier League.
The Pakistani selectors could hardly ignore him given their lack of pace options.
“My stance was based on principle and it was portrayed in a wrong sense. My stance is the same against all players who stained Pakistan’s image through corruption.
It’s my right to raise my voice, which I did, and I will do everything in my capacity to fight corruption. My stance is that all corrupt players should not be given another chance to represent Pakistan.”
The PCB stuck to their guns claiming that they were right.
Their statement read:
“There are a few players and commentators who are opposed to his selection. But in the past, spot fixers and drugs cheats have been permitted re-entry in to the international arena after serving their sentence. They include Marlon Samuels, Herschelle Gibbs, Tyson Gay [an American sprinter],
After serving his six-month probation, Amir has been participating in domestic first class cricket with success.
He has also performed well in the BPL. Accordingly, Amir has been called to the fitness camp which will enable him to bond with national players. His selection for the national team, for which he is eligible, would depend on the selectors.”
The PCB has a point. Amir has served his sentence and has to be given his chance for redemption.
Rashid Latif, who risked his career blowing the whistle on his former teammates in 1995, was not so forgiving.
“Amir is a living example of someone who betrayed Pakistan in an international match.
Let him live his life but don’t allow him to play for the country again. He can play domestic cricket and play in different leagues but don’t allow him to wear the same national colour which stalwarts like Hanif Mohammad, Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Wasim Bari, Fazal Mahmood and Javed Miandad wore with pride.”
Mohammad Yousuf felt otherwise.
“Amir is a wonderful bowler and since he has completed his sentence he has every right to play for Pakistan again.
Amir is performing very well since his ban was lifted and his inclusion will strengthen Pakistan team, so I back his inclusion.”
Azhar Mahmood, writing for PakPassion.net, said:
“I think it is the right thing to do and I support the PCB in this decision. Look, we as human beings are prone to make mistakes. This is human nature. In Amir’s case, he made a mistake and has served his punishment. Now that the ban has lapsed, it’s time for everyone to move forward and give him another chance. Even from a religious point of view, we need to forgive him and move on.”
Amir , the man at the centre of storm , said:
“I promise that I will do my best to respect the prestige of the green cap and Pakistan shirt.”