Forgetting the main character is not very common.
The players just agreed to take him in, the PCB already has its arms wide open. But everyone seems to be looking over the most basic question of all; is Mohammad Amir himself ready?
Does he understand what this second life is for, and is he prepared to undertake the formidable journey?
It is not just about proving that he deserved a comeback, the rest of Mohammad Amir’s career may well be a detailed apology.
No doubt that he is talented, and his recent domestic record makes a strong case for his inclusion in the national squad. However, this is not an opportunity to shine. The prime objective should and will be the clearance of his debt that he owes to the entire nation. Wiping the dirt of his name should not be his primary objective.
In his rebirth as a cricketer, Amir fights a battle bigger than ever before. This time around the pressure will be a constant companion regardless of how the game turns out. The recent wickets in Bangladesh will seem far, the ones from his first life even further. It will be more than bowling line and length that he’ll need to get right. With every breath he needs to show that he’s learnt something.
He will have to face boos from the crowd, and bear the thoughts that abuses meant for him are putting the whole team under pressure. At some point he might see his inclusion in the squad, not as recognition of his talent but as an extension of his sentence.
The young pacer has recently completed a 5 year sentence for the 2010 spot fixing scandal, which included a brief visit to a British prison. However, can he simply walk back on to the field and bowl his overs? Hard to say. Most people think that the most serious hurdles have been overcome (teammate mutiny, board’s consent, ex players’ comments etc), I say the most difficult part is yet to come.
Only a year into international cricket, Amir was already being compared to the legendary Wasim Akram. Not just Pakistan’s fair haired boy, he was an emerging sensation across the cricketing globe. His achievements include a 5 wicket haul against Australia, in Australia and 6 against England, in England. Add to that, the fact that he was 18 at the time, and you’ll have an impressed smile on your face. You can say that the age makes his crime understandable, but that debate is fruitless and long over.
His international debut came in the World T20 in 2009, where he bowled the first and last overs in almost every match. Only 17 at the time, he bowled his way to a permanent place in the squad. And in case you don’t remember, we won that world cup.
Let’s say it aloud. Amir won our hearts and we were proud of him. Then, intentionally or not he sold himself, and our trust with him. The crime has been punished, but not all damages have been accounted for. Fortunately for him, the wrong he committed is perhaps less striking than the great displays he gave us. Still, Amir will not be able to rely on the fondness we have for his memories.
Mohammad Amir must have regretted the spot fixing more than anyone else, I guarantee it. The coming time will be an attempt by him to lighten the burden. If he thinks his punishment is over, his forehead is going to get heavily creased soon. The tools are the same, talent and patriotism. However, glory might not be his fortune anymore. He will have to give it all he’s got, and even then he might only break even.