Legendary paceman Wasim Akram cautioned against discounting Mohammad Amir ahead of next month’s World Cup, saying Pakistan’s pace spearhead would return to form following a disappointing string of performances at the crease.
The 27-year-old Amir was left off Pakistan’s preliminary World Cup squad but has a chance to force his way back into the final 15 if he does well in the five-match one-day international series against England starting from May 8.
All teams have until May 23 to change their World Cup squads.
Missing the upcoming World Cup would likely serve as another crippling setback for the young bowler’s career after he missed the tournament in both 2011 and 2015 due to an embarrassing five-year ban over match fixing.
Since returning to competition, Amir has fallen into a rut after guiding Pakistan in a dramatic win over India in the Champions trophy final in June 2017—with just four wickets in 14 matches.
However, Akram said he still believed Amir could stage a comeback. “We can’t discount Amir from the World Cup,” Akram told AFP. “Amir would have been my first choice for the World Cup considering English conditions where he performs well.”
Akram went on to say that Amir had both youth and the experience of competing at the highest levels of the sport on his side, including international Tests and English county cricket. “I am confident that he will do well once his rhythm is back,” said Akram, a veteran of five World Cups in 1987, 1992, 1996, 1999 and 2003.
Pakistan’s preliminary World Cup squad is largely comprised of young players, with only a handful of veterans—Sarfraz and Haris Sohail, who played in 2015, as well as Shoaib Malik, who played in 2007, and Mohammad Hafeez, who took part in the 2007 and 2011 tournaments.
Akram added that big events are won with a mixture of youth and experience. “I am all for youth but experience has no substitute, so we should mix youth with experience,” said Akram who guided Amir during the Pakistan Super League earlier this year. “He is a good learner so I hope things will come good for him sooner than later because Pakistan team needs him.”
Pakistan is set to play three one-day matches against county teams before taking on England in the five-match ODI series from May 5. The squad will then kick off two warm-up World Cup games against Afghanistan on May 24 and Bangladesh on May 26, before taking on the West Indies in their first World Cup match in Nottingham on May 31.
All 10 teams will play each other in the first stage, with the top four playing the semi-finals.