England captain Alastair Cook is hoping that the upcoming Test series against Pakistan will be remembered more for cricket rather than controversy as tainted pacer Mohammad Amir makes a much-anticipated return to Test cricket on Thursday(July 14) at Lord’s.
Pakistan’s last two series in England were marred with controversies. 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.
Mohammad Amir, who is expected to spearhead Pakistan’s bowling attack, will return to the longest format after six years. Incidentally, Amir’s last Test, in August 2010, was at the same venue when he took 6 for 84 in the first innings. The whole cricketing world is divided over Amir’s return. While some have supported his return, a few have raised their voice against it. Earlier, Cook said that while fixers should be banned for life, he has no issues with Amir’s return as he has served his sentence. But for the time being, the English captain just the wants the focus to be on cricket rather than anything else.
“I’ve said all along I don’t think match-fixers should be allowed to play but at the time he [Amir] was given his punishment, he’s served it so he’s entitled to come back. He’s served his time,” Cook said.
“I just hope that we can concentrate on the cricket now. It’s the big story about this Test match, but I thought the way both sides played in the UAE [last year] that the spirit between us was different too in the past, and I hope we can carry that on and talk about the cricket.”
England will be playing the first Test without their star pacer, James Anderson. Anderson picked up a shoulder injury during the Test series against Sri Lanka. Jake ball is set to replace him in the team and Cook said that he is excited to see Jake Ball in action.
“Unfortunately, Jimmy has missed out, but it’s a great opportunity for Jake,” Cook said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes. He’s had a great year with Notts and looks a fine bowler. He’s got wicket-taking balls in him, the ability to get good players out on flat wickets, and he puts the ball in good areas with good pace.”
While Anderson has started bowling in the nets, Cook said the team is not willing to take any chance.
“He’s not [bowling] quite at full pace, and I think the risk of going into a five-day Test match with that injury, an injury that not too many people have had, just had a bit of a doubt about it,” Cook said.
“I think the selectors decided that there are three other games, and he should be fit for Old Trafford.”