It is said a fast bowler reaches his peak around the age of 27-28. That’s when the body and mind has matured and there is enough gas in the tank to make things happen with a cricket ball.
But if you made your international debut as a 17-year-old and took the world by storm immediately, 10 years can seem a long time even if five of them were spent serving a ban from the game.
Maybe it was that workload which prompted Mohammad Amir to retire from Tests and concentrate on white-ball cricket. But even so, it was a bolt from the blue.
Reports from Pakistan suggest Amir is looking to relocate to the UK – his wife is a British passport holder – which is why he took the decision.
To me Mohammad Amir retiring from Test cricket is a bit surprising because you peak at 27-28 and Test cricket is where you are judged against the best, it’s the ultimate format. Pakistan will need him in two Tests in Australia and then three in England.— Wasim Akram (@wasimakramlive) July 26, 2019
Whatever the reasons behind the move – relocation, freedom to choose assignments, extend franchise cricket career – the reality is Pakistan are without their main all-condition red ball bowler and that too at the start of the new World Test Championship.
Pakistan are scheduled to play two Test in Australia at the end of the year and three in England in the middle of 2020. That’s five Tests which are part of the Test Championship. And Pakistan have little time to find a pace spearhead in that period.
Amir was effective in his last two major overseas Test assignments – 12 wickets from three Tests in South Africa this year and seven scalps from two Tests in England in 2018. Was he the best bowler on show? No. But a decent Amir is still highly valuable for a team like Pakistan struggling at number seven in the Test rankings.
Medium pacer Mohammad Abbas can straightaway be discounted on flatter wickets, while Hassan Ali has lost his spark. That leaves talented but inexperienced pacer like Shaheen Shah Afridi to lead the attack; imagine a teenager leading the charge against Joe Root and Steve Smith.
Pakistan have quality quicks like Mohammad Hasnain and Mir Hamza but getting them ready in time for the away assignments within one year might be too big a task, especially since it has been thrust upon them.
Sure, Amir has lost a fair bit of pace and needs to recharge his batteries in order to get the nip back in his bowling. But the Pakistan management must have expected the seasoned campaigner to oversee the transition process over the next year.
Pakistan, who are grappling uncertainty over Sarfraz Ahmed’s future as captain now have to make do without their top Test bowler. Amir has his reasons to do what he did. But he must remember that he was given an opportunity by his nation to re-enter the international arena after the spot-fixing scandal of 2010. A less abrupt end of Test ties and a clearer path forward regarding all formats would have been easier on everyone.
Anyhow, Pakistan have a spanner in their works and not a lot of time to figure out how to get it running again.
Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir has announced his retirement from Test cricket aged just 27.
The left-armer returned to Pakistan’s Test side in 2015 having been handed a five-year ban for his involvement in the spot-fixing scandal in the series against England in 2010.
Amir also served half of a six-month prison sentence for the offence which involved bowling deliberate no balls.
He was Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker at the recent World Cup and is still committed to playing white-ball cricket for his country.
“It has been an honour to represent Pakistan in the pinnacle and traditional format of the game. I, however, have decided to move away from the longer version so I can concentrate on white ball cricket,” Amir said in a statement.
Amir was one of the brightest prospects in the game when his ban came in 2010 and he ends his career with just 36 Tests to his name.
In that time he took 119 wickets, including 24 in his last six Tests.
“It has not been an easy decision to make and I have been thinking about this for some time. But with the ICC World Test Championship commencing shortly, and Pakistan boasting some very exciting young fast bowlers, it is appropriate that I call on my time in Test cricket so that the selectors can plan accordingly,” Amir added.
“I want to thank all my team-mates as well as the opponents in red ball cricket. It has been a privilege to play with and against them. I am sure our paths will continue to cross in limited-overs cricket as all of us play and compete with the same vigour and determination.”
Pakistan Cricket Board managing director Wasim Khan said: “Amir has been one of the most exciting and talented left-arm fast bowlers in Test cricket in recent times.
“He overcame adversity as a young cricketer and came back stronger not only as a cricketer but also as a better human being. His skill, on the field, and his personality will be missed in the dressing room in the longer format. However, we respect his decision and look forward to him continuing to play an integral role in white ball cricket for Pakistan.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Monday announced that the Sri Lankan board will send a security team to the country in August to explore the possibility of a tour.
Pakistan has been forced to play most of its matches in the UAE since the attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009. However, in the past few years efforts have been made to bring meaningful international cricket back to the country.
Pakistan has hosted Zimbabwe (ODIs and T20), a World XI team, Sri Lanka for one T20 and the West Indies (T20). Also, the final stages of the Pakistan Super League are now being held in the country, expediting the ‘normalisation’ process. The effort now is to have a full tour from a major team.
Announcing the decision on Twitter, the PCB stated: “The Sri Lanka Cricket board has assured PCB of sending a security team. A delegation of the Sri Lankan board will visit Pakistan in August. The finalised dates for the delegation’s arrival will be announced soon.”
Pakistan has been negotiating with Sri Lanka to host a two-match Test series in October in Pakistan.
Sri Lanka was targeted by extremists in April this year in a series of co-ordinated attacks that left more than 200 people dead.