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Short Leash for Amir in England Tour

by AFP
Arif Ali—AFP

File Photo. Arif Ali—AFP

National cricket team manager warns disgraced player will be under strict observation and must prove he has been redeemed.

Pakistan cricket team manager Intikhab Alam Friday warned fast bowler Mohammad Amir cannot afford to put a foot wrong on the tour of England where he was caught in a spot-fixing case six years ago.

The images of Amir’s shocking over-stepping of the crease to bowl no-balls during the Lord’s Test in 2010 will re-emerge as he is all set to take the field on July 14 in the first of a four-match series. Amir and his new-ball partner Mohammad Asif bowled deliberate no-balls on the order of then Test captain Salman Butt in return for money—a sting operation by the now defunct British tabloid News of the World. All three players were banned for five years from playing cricket and jailed by a U.K. court.

But since the ban was lifted in September last year, Amir has been in a superb wicket-taking form and will be the key bowler for Pakistan on the tour, which also has five one-day and a Twenty20 international.

Alam warned Amir would be under strict vigil. “Amir cannot afford to put a foot wrong,” said Alam as the team prepares to depart for England early Saturday. “Amir has to prove a point to the cricketing world that there will be no slip-up, make up for the five years he lost and do justice to his talent by bringing laurels.”

Alam said he fears people would provoke him. “I fear people will provoke him on and off the field but he has been told to remain calm and not react,” said Alam. “That happened on his first tour [New Zealand] when he was fielding on the boundary line but they die down once you don’t react,” said Alam.

Fans shouted slogans and a stadium announcer played a sound effect of a cash register before the start of one of Amir’s overs during Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand in January this year—his first international tour on return.

Alam said Amir in particular and other players in general will have to follow a strict code of conduct on the tour. “The message is clear for all the players and that is there will be no compromise on discipline and zero tolerance,” said Alam, a former Pakistan captain. “Amir will have to follow strict code of conduct which stops him from meeting people and focus on cricket,” said Alam, who praised Amir’s conduct.

“Since his return, Amir has been very good and has shown remorse of what he did,” said Alam. “People expect miracles from him but he has been very good on the three tours he has had so far and we hope he will deliver to the best of his abilities in England.”

Alam said Pakistan’s team was up for England’s challenge. “I have always had good memories of England and this time too I believe we will be challenging for our opponents,” said Alam who led Pakistan on the 1971 and 74 tours of England.

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