Disgraced player has been named for fitness training camp, paving way for his return to national team.
Paceman Mohammad Amir promised to respect Pakistan’s green cap and shirt after being named for a national camp on Friday, the first step toward regaining his place in country’s team following a spot-fixing ban.
The 23-year-old has shown impressive form in domestic matches as well as in the Bangladesh Premier League since his five-year ban was relaxed in April this year then completely lifted three months ago. On Friday cricket selectors cleared him for fitness training camp, which could pave the way for his inclusion in the national team.
Amir was tipped as one of the most talented young fast bowlers when he was jailed in 2011 after admitting bowling no balls the previous summer against England at Lord’s in exchange for cash. His captain Salman Butt and fellow bowler Mohammad Asif were jailed for similar offences.
Amir said he would do his best to prove he is a changed man. “I promise that I will do my best to respect the prestige of the green cap and Pakistan shirt,” he told AFP.
At the time of his ban, which derailed his career, Amir was only 18. Legendary Pakistan fast bowler Imran Khan had described him as “the hottest property in international cricket.” Since his return, Amir has taken 22 wickets in four non first-class games, while his tally of wickets in the qualifying rounds of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy stood at 34. He then took nine wickets in two first class matches of Quaid-e-Azam trophy while scoring two half centuries.
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shaharyar Khan and head coach Waqar Younis earlier this month hinted Amir could return to the national team after completing a rehabilitation program following the lifting of his ban. The 26 players included for the fitness camp will be eligible for team’s limited over series in New Zealand starting from Jan. 15.
“The main objective of the camp is to improve the overall physical fitness of all players and to enhance the technical aspect of each player’s game and to prepare them for the upcoming international events,” said a PCB press release.
Pakistan will play three one-day and as many Twenty20 internationals on their tour of New Zealand. They then feature in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh followed by the World Twenty20 in India in March-April.
Amir’s return was opposed by some current players, including former Twenty20 skipper Mohammad Hafeez, who vowed not to share a dressing room with the tainted player. But Amir said he hoped he could win them over “with my performances and with my acts.”