Sports Cricket 12 Jul 2016 Mohammad Amir's care ...

Mohammad Amir's career set to come full circle at Lord’s Test

AFP | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Jul 12, 2016, 1:16 am IST
Updated Jul 12, 2016, 7:41 am IST
Mohammad Amir
 Mohammad Amir

London: The floppy hair he had as a teenager may have been replaced by a shorter cut and the once clean-shaven face is now home to a goatee beard.

But there was no mistaking the whippy left-arm action as Mohammad Amir ran into bowl against Somerset at Taunton last week or the “airplane” celebration that greeted his three first-innings wickets.

It was a sight many fans would have been forgiven for thinking they would ever see again on an English field after Amir’s career came to a dramatic and possibly terminal halt at Lord’s in 2010. During that year’s Test against England, Amir and Pakistan new-ball partner Mohammad Asif bowled no-balls to order on the instructions of their captain Salman Butt as part of a sting operation carried out by a tabloid newspaper.

All three received five-year bans from cricket and, together with sports agent Mazhar Majeed, jail terms. There was a sense of shock and anger among cricket fans, although in Amir’s case there was also an overwhelming sense of sadness that an 18-year-old should have become caught up in such a scandal.

Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding is not given to excessive displays of emotion in his work as a television commentator and pundit. Yet he was in tears as he discussed Amir’s plight live on air the morning after the night the story broke during the Lord’s Test.

For Amir was — and on the evidence of the Somerset match still is — a superbly skilled bowler, with the rare ability to make the ball swing late at sharp pace off a good length, one of the most difficult types of bowling for even the best batsmen to face.

It helped him earn him the Pakistan man of the series award against England after he had taken 19 wickets at under 19 apiece in four Tests. Amir, Asif and Butt were all given five-year bans by the ICC and the trio were all jailed by an English court.

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