Pacer Mohammad Amir might stage a comeback if the current PCB chairman is made to leave in the wake of the regime change
Fast bowling has always remained a strong point for Pakistan cricket. From Fazal Mehmood to Shaheen Shah Afridi, Pakistan has produced a number of world class fast bowlers.
The 2017 Champions Trophy final hero Mohammad Amir is once again in news for his expected return to the national squad.
The 30-year-old is playing first-class cricket in England for Gloucestershire County. Two and a half years after taking retirement from Test cricket, he is playing in county as a replacement for Pakistani fast bowler Naseem Shah who was ruled out due to some injury.
According to some media reports, Amir is considering making a comeback from retirement and can play international cricket for Pakistan again. But he says it is too early to talk about a Test return.
"I am playing after three years and I haven't played any first-class cricket in the last four years, so it isn't easy as a fast bowler, but I am getting better after the first game and just trying to help the boys and do well for them," he said in an interview.
"As a bowler it is my duty to bowl well and lead from the front, so that is what I'm trying to do. After recovering from the side strain in the PSL, I was training and feeling so good and thought why not give a chance to red-ball cricket," he said.
"I think I am getting better and on the right path now. I am enjoying red-ball cricket. For now, I'm only here for three games and afterwards I'm planning on going to the Caribbean Premier League," he said.
Amir might return to playing international cricket if the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Ramiz Raja decides to resign from his post after Imran Khan's ouster as the prime minister.
Since his international retirement, he has focused on playing in various T20 leagues around the world.
Amir played his last Test in 2019. He last played for Pakistan in T20Is in England in August 2020 when he was only 28.
Amir has represented Pakistan in 36 Tests (119 wickets), 61 One-day Internationals (81 wickets) and 50 Twenty20 Internationals (59 wickets).
Amir retired from international cricket in December 2020 citing differences with the team management. He openly criticised then head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis for mentally torturing him.
"I was not dropped from the side because of my performance," says Amir.
In July 2019, Amir had announced his retirement from Test cricket, saying he would continue playing white-ball cricket for Pakistan. Amir laments that his decision to retire from Test cricket is linked to his participation in T20 leagues.
He was unhappy when his name was not included in the 35-member squad for the New Zealand tour. "I am leaving cricket for now because I'm being mentally tortured. I don't think I can bear such torture. I've borne lots of torture from 2010 to 2015," Amir said.
But an important question is: is Amir still as effective as he was in the past? Before the ban in 2010, Amir averaged 24 in ODIs. Since his comeback in 2016, he has averaged 39.17. In 36 ODIs, he conceded 1371 runs and took just 35 wickets without a four-wicket haul.
Amir should realise this is the national team, not some franchise cricket team where he can play at his will.
In the early days of his career, Amir was compared with legend Wasim Akram for his exceptional ability to swing the ball into, or away from, the batsmen. But the ban for five years for spot-fixing in 2010 badly damaged his career.
He was part of the Pakistan squad which won the 2009 World T20. Upon his return to the international side, Amir led Pakistan's pace attack and helped the side win its maiden International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy title in 2017.
Amir, who made his debut as a 17-year-old in July 2009, had played 14 Tests, picking up 51 wickets at 29.09 before the ban.
In 2010, he was, along with his new ball partner Mohammad Asif and then Pakistan captain Salman Butt, banned from cricket for five years and handed a jail sentence.
When Amir was banned, he was at his peak and according to a Pakistan cricket statistician in those five years he would have scalped 250 wickets in Tests and ODIs.