Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir has claimed that match-fixers should be banned for life as he is anxiously waiting for his Test cricket return at Lord’s, where an infamous 2010 spot-fixing scandal handed him a jail term and a subsequent five-year ban from cricket.
The fast bowler supported comments from England captain Alastair Cook, who a few days ago suggested anyone caught match-fixing should be thrown out of the game for good.
“If fixing is still happening then it’s really alarming,” Amir said in an interview before his departing for the four-Test tour of England. “I fully back that fixers should be banned for life.”
The 24-year-old left-arm fast bowler is expecting a tricky reception from the crowds at Lord’s, where he was caught bowling no-balls in a sting operation carried out by a tabloid newspaper.
But Alastair Cook earlier this month made it clear he had no such problem playing against Amir, who has served his ban and returned to international cricket in January this year.
Amir and his new-ball partner Mohammad Asif intentionally bowled no-balls on the instructions of their captain Salman Butt during the infamous Lords Test. All three received five-year bans and jail terms.
Since his ban ended, Amir had the opportunity to play only limited-overs cricket, but now he has a Test return at Lords in hand, a twist of fate that he regards a “blessing”.
“To be honest, I never thought about my comeback and I feel seriously lucky to be back in the role to play Test cricket again,” he said.
“I was all excited for Test cricket because that is where my career was held back and I still can’t believe that this is happening.
“You call it a coincidence or whatever but for me, it’s a blessing that I am restarting (Tests) right at Lord’s from where I stopped in 2010.”
Amir’s quick pace and wicket-taking ability make him an automatic choice for the first Test of the series starting on July 14 and he hopes to be able to put his past behind him.
“I may have registered my comeback months ago but Test cricket is actual cricket, and playing it again is what I was looking forward to and this is my real comeback,” said Amir.
“I won’t say that I have forgotten my past and those incidents won’t come back to haunt me, but I am looking at it positively as I want to replace the past with a better future.
“My memory still holds those moments from 2010 but I want to perform well, want to get my name (on) the honour board at Lord’s once again,” said Amir, whose bowling figure of 6-84 in that tainted Test of 2010 still today features on the honours board, where outstanding performances are chronicled.
Amir also claimed he is ready to face any kind of on-field sledging and the inevitable chants by England crowd. During a Twenty20 international match in New Zealand back in January, the stadium announcer intentionally played the sound of a cash register before one of Amir’s overs.
“Crowds, in general, get nasty sometimes but you are professional only if you handle any kind of situation wisely. It’s my duty to be focused on the game,” he said.
“Sledging is a part of the game and it indeed isn’t new. But I don’t want to think a lot about this. I will think about my performance,” Amir further said.
Amir now believes his experiences from the dark past had made him a stronger person than he was before 2010 when he was still an inexperienced teenager.
“I went through tough times which actually taught me a lot of good lessons and now I am much stronger than before. I have got enough in my life to stand strong,” he said.
Pakistan will also compete in a five-match ODI series and a Twenty20 international against England during the tour.