ISLAMABAD: Tainted fast-bowler Mohammad Amir is shattered at being jailed for deliberately bowling no-balls but will come back a clean player and a good man, claimed a former mentor.
The 19-year-old left-arm bowler, once regarded as the hottest new talent in the game, was sent to the Feltham Young Offenders Institute for six months for his role in fixing parts of the Lord’s Test against England in August 2010.
Asif Bajwa, whose academy in Rawalpindi groomed Amir in the early 1990s, said the youngster was ‘mentally shattered’.
“I told him that he should be mentally prepared for this,” said Bajwa. “But once he comes back I’ll hide him from this cruel world and make him a better human being and a clean cricketer. He’s very worried about his future. I was talking to him on the phone every day and I have told him that once he comes back I will not allow him to meet anyone, he needs mental peace.”
Amir was the only player to plead guilty, a step which Judge Jeremy Cooke said ‘took courage’ and saved him a nine-month sentence.
Bajwa, 43, said the verdict was inevitable after such damning evidence but ‘very, very sad for a youngster’. But he refused to accept any blame for not better grooming the prodigy, instead pointing the finger at team management.
“As a young boy he was very disciplined and straight forward but once you come into the limelight, into international cricket, it’s tough to handle yourself. I think 80% of the blame goes to the management of the England tour. Has anyone called manager Yawar Saeed? Has anyone asked the security manager of the tour how unwanted people mixed up with the players? No one has done that.
“I fear more players will fall in the pits if strict measures are not taken,” said Bajwa. “When you send your kids to school, you know a strict teacher will take care of his every move, but not in the Pakistan team.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2011.
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