The way Mohammad Amir has returned to wicket-taking mode in both domestic cricket and BPL, everyone from the chairman to the chief selector will be drooling to pitch him against the world’s best batsmen
Mohammad Amir has made his return to the international scene in the sense that he has now started playing with foreign players in a foreign league. And as expected, the verbal fireworks have started. His appearance in the Bangladesh Premier League has been a litmus test for what PCB can expect to hear from the foreign media to local writers, from international cricketers to Pakistani players. It’s beginning to happen.
And you can expect it both ways as happened in the case of Mohammad Hafeez. The Pakistani batsman announced publicly that he had turned down the offer of around ten million rupees from the Chittagong Vikings because that would have meant that he shared the dressing room with Amir.
The Vikings team adviser Akram Khan retorted that they had never made an offer to Hafeez.
That is a point to consider; these leagues have rules that specify that the team must submit names much before the tournament begins. Why did Hafeez wait till after the start of the tournament to reveal his refusal? Was it a publicity stunt? Or is it that Hafeez chose this time as an opportunity to win some brownie points on how fair he plays his cricket? Or maybe settle a past personal score with the bowler.
In fact these days Hafeez is not a hot property in T20 cricket considering his biggest asset, his cunning off spin, has been banned, which means he can only bat and in that capacity there are better options.
The Vikings have drafted Kamran Akmal and with Tamim Iqbal as captain they have a good opening combination.
Perhaps there had been a polite inquiry from Hafeez by a recruiting agent of Vikings in case of an injury. Or maybe the Vikings did make an offer and are now defending their morality that has been brought into question with Hafeez’s stand. But what has happened is that the former and current Pakistani players have now jumped into the fray.
Inzamam has said what I had written sometime back and that is that the induction of Amir, and maybe Salman Butt and Asif later on, will lead to distraction from the actual cricket on the ground.
Inzamam also wondered what we would receive from the crowd or international media if Amir bowled a no ball at a crucial juncture of the game.
In his playing days, Inzamam continued to play with tainted players. In his heart of hearts, he knew full well that some players in the side were fixers. Where were his scruples then? Did he not see that it was distracting from cricket as media lambasted the reputation of some of the players based on accusations from within the team itself, such as by Rashid Latif?
On the other hand, Amir has received sympathy from Misbah-ul Haq, whom he dismissed in that game against Rangpur Riders. Misbah walked up to Amir after the game and after patting him on the back and giving a light hug talked briefly in good spirits, indicating that he had a different point of view.
Misbah is probably being more pragmatic. He is just about twice the age of Amir and it could be that he felt that the young man needed some ‘elderly’ appreciation, especially after Hafeez’s statement.
Misbah could also be eyeing Amir as part of his armory when he leads Pakistan against England and Australia next year on their home grounds.
But earlier than that of course is the probability of Amir coming back into the Pakistani side for the series that is likely to happen against India or for the World Twenty20 in 2016. This can very well materialise even though the PCB has said that the three players would be given a full season to play before consideration for national selection.
The way Amir has returned to wicket-taking mode in both domestic cricket and BPL, everyone from the chairman to the chief selector will be drooling to pitch him against the world’s best batsmen.
That of course will mean talking to Azhar Ali and Shahid Afridi, who lead the Pakistani ODI and T20 teams, respectively. Azhar will probably jump at the opportunity, considering he is losing too many games because he lacks the killer touch in his bowling that can defend low scores or bring down the target in the death overs.
When it comes to Shahid Afridi, it could be dicey as the Pakistani superstar has been hugely vocal against anything that harms the ethics of the game. He’s also led Pakistan to the number two position in ICC T20 rankings, so won’t be too hard pressed to bolster his bowling. But he is also big hearted and forgiving.
What will be interesting to watch though is what Hafeez will do if Amir is selected to play for Pakistan again.