The Rise and Fall of Mohammad Amir

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir was given 5 years by the ICCIt is amazing that we are talking about the rise and fall of a cricketer who has only eighteen years of life experiences. Rarely has such a young athlete experienced the peaks and troughs that Mohammad Amir has. Once heralded the new Wasim Akram, Amir now has a five year ban to deal with which threatens to ruin his career following his involvement in the Pakistan spot betting scandal. At only eighteen, the one thing on his side is time, but it will be extraordinary if he manages to scale the heights which once led to him being regarded as a beacon of hope for Pakistan.

Born in the isolated village of Changa Bangyaal in the Punjab region of Pakistan, the young Amir would often spend time trying to emulate his idol Wasim Akram. Coincidentally it was Akram who gave Amir his opportunity in 2007 by selecting him as a fast bowler for Pakistan’s under 19 side following a fast bowling camp at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. Amir was just fifteen when he toured England in 2007 with the under-19 side and a year later, his contribution of nine wickets at an average of just 11.22 anchored Pakistan’s victory in a tri nation tournament in Sri Lanka against the hosts and England. Many were tipping the young fast bowler to help Pakistan retain the Under-19 World Cup in 2008 but a case of dengue fever meant his campaign was cut short.

With the help of Pakistan cricket official Shakil Shaikh, Amir was able to make his domestic debut for the Rawalpindi Rams in 2008 while also representing the National Bank of Pakistan. In ten games, he took an astonishing 56 wickets for the NBP. This impressive showing at domestic level led to him getting a call up for Pakistan’s tour to Bangladesh but the hosts decided to postpone amid security concerns following the Sri Lanka team bus attack in Lahore in March 2009. However, Amir wouldn’t have to wait long to get his chance and as he was picked in the Pakistan squad for the 2009 World T20 tournament held in England. It was at this tournament when Amir truly introduced himself to cricket fans. With only his second ball of international cricket, he dismissed England’s Ravi Bopara in the group stage match and then went on to claim a further five wickets in Pakistan’s victorious campaign.

Following his strong showing at the T20 World Cup, Amir played in his first Test and ODI matches in Pakistan’s tour to Sri Lanka in July-August claiming his first wickets in both debuts. Over tours to New Zealand and Australia in 2009, the young left fast bowler built up his pace and by the time he arrived in England in 2010 he was considered to be one of the brightest prospects in the game. His ability to swing the new ball both ways and later utilise reverse swing made him a very dangerous opponent and soon people realised the Akram comparisons were not just hype. In Pakistan’s tour to England in which they played a test series against Australia as well as the hosts, Amir was at times unplayable in the English overcast conditions.

Amir concluded the tour having claimed 30 wickets in just six Tests which included two five wicket hauls. He also became the youngest bowler of all time to take fifty wickets when he dismissed England wicket keeper Matt Prior in the Fourth Test at Lords. However it was during that very Test when the damaging allegations of Amir being involved in a betting scandal first emerged following a sting operation by reporters from the News of the World.

From being a hero one day to being a villain the next, Amir’s life was turned upside down.

Along with captain Salman Butt and fellow pace bowler Mohammad Asif, Amir was in the media spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Pakistan fans spoke of their disbelief while cricket experts around the world were devastated. How could such a talented young cricketer with the world at his feet get involved in a betting scandal?
The rest is history. After months of investigations, Amir was handed a five year ban by the ICC on February 5th along with Butt and Asif. His lawyer has made it clear that they intend to appeal the ban but the chances of the decision being overturned are highly unlikely.

So where now for Amir? He faces five years of not being able to play the thing that he loves the most. Sponsors have cut ties with him and he will always have to carry the burden around of being labelled a cheat. It will take a lot of mental strength and at such a young age he needs as much support as possible to recover from such a predicament.

From being a nation’s greatest hope in years, Amir has become a disgrace to Pakistan. We should be talking about a cricketer who will shine at the upcoming World Cup but instead we are left to ponder whether we will ever see the real Mohammad Amir again.

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