Fast bowler Mohammad Amir is now set to be reintegrated into the country’s cricket fraternity after more than four years of tumult, pain and disgrace. The ICC made the formal announcement of his return to domestic cricket under “the auspices of PCB” on January 29. Purely in legal terms, Amir deserves to return after having paid his debt to society by admitting to his wrongdoing in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal, enduring punishment for his role in it by serving a prison sentence and also by serving his ban from all forms of cricket, as well as contributing to anti-corruption activities. He will restart his career, first at the domestic level and if he continues to progress in the right direction, we may see the talented fast bowler donning Pakistan colours again.
But difficult times may lie ahead for Amir. He might have served his sentence, however, the damage his actions caused to Pakistan and the reputation of the game cannot be quantified. At present, the PCB is basking in the glory of successfully pleading the youngster’s case at the highest level but the depth of the merit of their decision would only be ascertained when Amir represents Pakistan again.
Media reports suggest that many of the current national players, especially the ones who were subjected to unparalleled humiliation when the scandal broke out merely for being part of the squad in England in 2010, are perturbed, rather incensed, at Amir’s return. The PCB needs to dig deep and counsel both the players and Amir on this count if it indeed harbours hopes of the return of the fast bowler to top level cricket. What is also worth pondering over is the reaction of crowds around the world when Amir takes the field. While many players with tainted reputations have enjoyed long careers with various teams, no scandal has ever been as deeply scathing as the 2010 spot-fixing saga was. Amir is in a unique situation: while he may deserve a second chance, is the average cricket fan and the cricketing fraternity at large ready to accept him again? Only time will tell.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2015.
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