Does Amir have a future in the game?
It was disconcerting and depressing to see bowlers like Sohail Tanvir and Abdul Razzaq being handed the new ball in the third ODI against New Zealand; some months ago, it was the greatly talented duo of Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir sharing that responsibility for the national team.
The verdict on the banned trio’s future is due on February 5 and Pakistani fans will be praying desperately for the ICC tribunal to at least show some leniency towards Mohammad Amir.
Is Amir our only realistic hope?
Inn my view, Mohammad Amir has the best chance of being acquitted, with a light or even no sentence at all. However, it is difficult to foresee the same fate for Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif. In Butt’s case, the fact that he was captain at the time the fiasco unfolded is something which will tilt the tribunal’s decision against him. Coming to Asif’s record, the less that is said about it the better – it is full of a wide range of indiscretions.
So what Pakistanis can realistically hope for is that Amir be proven innocent, and also that he is allowed to be included in the World Cup squad if the ban is lifted.
The factors that might go in Amir’s favour are his age and inexperience. In fact, ICC’s anti-corruption law does dictate that a player can be dealt with compassionately if he is young and his past record is clean, which Amir’s thankfully is. Additionally, his claims that he was ordered to bowl the no-balls by his captain Salman Butt, could also soften the tribunal’s stance towards Amir if they do find that Butt had exerted undue influence on the youth and even threatened to axe him from the team if he did not comply.
Amir: Politically incorrect
The ICC tribunal, however, may have made a mental note of Amir’s daring and stupefying decision to wear a T-shirt sporting the logo “legalise cannabis” to the third day of the hearing at Doha. While it may have been childish behaviour on Amir’s part, I doubt that it will have much effect on the tribunal’s verdict.
Amir also has another infraction. I am referring to the practice match he played in Rawlapindi, which the PCB claims it had nothing to with. Why Amir decided to risk his future at such a crucial juncture in his career, is beyond comprehension. It also brings to light the haphazard manner in which the PCB is dealing with this issue of substantial importance.
PCB’s general apathy
While the BCCI hushed up similar charges leveled at Suresh Raina, the PCB has appeared reluctant to lend any helping hand to our suspended players.
For Pakistan’s World Cup success and the team’s long term good, it is vital that Amir be absolved of the charges. The youth is an example of natural talent, the likes of which Pakistan has not produced for at least two decades.
If the PCB had shown more interest in standing up for him rather than participating in a power struggle within the team, the results could have been very different for the prodigious Pakistani fast bowler.
Let us then continue to hope (while there is still hope) that the teenager is proven innocent and is given an opportunity to shine for Pakistan at the World Cup.
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