Wahab Riaz has said that Mohammad Amir has the backing of the whole Pakistani team as he prepares to make his much anticipated return to Test cricket at Lord’s on Thursday.
The tainted pacer is set to make a return to Test cricket in England this summer and, should he be selected for the first Test at Lord’s, his comeback game would be at the venue the infamous fixing incident took place.
24-years old Amir spent three months in jail and was banned from all cricket for five years after he was found guilty of deliberately bowling no-balls at Lords in 2010. The young pacer’s ban ended in September last year and he made a return to international cricket when he was selected for Pakistan’s one-day and Twenty20 squads to face New Zealand. Since then he has only featured in limited overs game but is now in contention to make a Test comeback.
“I think he will deal with all those things,” said Riaz at Lord’s on Tuesday.
“He is ready to answer with his performance — and that is what counts.”
Some players were unhappy after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) decided to allow Amir to play again for Pakistan. However, Wahab is adamant that his teammates are now fully behind the pacer.
“No-one is reluctant,” said Riaz.
“We all take him as our young brother — he is a part of our family. We are all behind him.” He added: “What has happened has gone now.
“I want him to take five wickets in this Test match to get his name back and to get his image back which has been spoilt.
“If you make a mistake it doesn’t mean that you are out of (excluded from) this world.”
Riaz, who made his debut during that infamous series, said that the team’s sole focus is to play good cricket and anything apart from that will not matter.
“Our focus and concentration is to win this Test match and play as good as we can for our country and win this game. That is all we are thinking. We know things will come and go but you hear it in one ear and you leave it with the other and you just concentrate on your cricket.”
Pakistan’s last two series in England were disastrous. The 2006 series which they lost by 3-0 was marred by ball-tampering controversy while four years later the team had to suffer match-fixing problems. Pakistan’s track record in England is not impressive as their last Test series win came two decades ago, way back in 1996. Having won their five of their last six Test matches against England, Pakistani team would be hoping to improve their record in England.
“What has happened before has gone,” Wahab said. “It was six years ago and Pakistan have made their name in Test cricket. From the last four years we have had a Test ranking of two, three, four. Under the captaincy of Misbah this team is much more united.
“We have seen the hard time of Pakistan cricket. It’s easy to see and easy to talk about but we have worked hard after what happened. We have managed to make people all over the world believe that Pakistan is a good Test team. The belief will come – it depends how much crowd will come and want to see the Test matches. If it is a full house that means they do believe in the Pakistan team. Pakistan are a strong team and can always give you a hard time.”