Amir finally finds Test cricket escape
From touching the skies to plunging to a rock bottom in 2010, the spot-fixing scandal remains a dark epicenter of Mohammad Amir's career that changed him altogether. The prospect of playing Test cricket may have triggered an uncomfortable train of thought upon his comeback. It's like you are reminded of your bittersweet failed first date and you want to quickly change the topic at a soirée.
He ends his Test career after playing just 36 Tests with 119 wickets. The years in the wilderness might have made him bitter and gradually, self-preservation became paramount to him as he now decides to walk away from cricket's most sacred format. With his ill-timed retirement, he has lost the opportunity to be hailed as a true legend of the game.
He burst onto the international scene like no one else and impressed everybody with his wiliness and extravagant movement of the cricket ball, foxing the best in the business. At one time, everybody went gaga over him comparing him with the likes of Wasim Akram, who rated him above himself at that initial stage of his Test career. However, his whole world came down crashing after that ignominious spot-fixing saga that saw the genius end up at the house of correction.
The prodigy who once used to have a slender Bruce Lee-esque physique felt wronged by the unfair world. Coaxed into crime by his skipper, he accepted foul play and then pleaded guilty, withering away into oblivion as his bread and butter was taken away. The media went wild salting on his wounds and reminding him each day about his transgression which may have taken a toll on his psyche. But he kept himself aloof from the cold world. As it typically happens in our society, youth doesn't have many mentors and support system to stay in a positive frame of mind when the chips are down. He lost his body strength in the idleness which has played a part in his lukewarm resurgence in the international cricket.
Sympathy grew when he was in cricket hiatus; almost entire cricket fraternity wanted him to have another go. The same media and cricket fraternity now had high hopes from the lost genius. However, Amir's headspace was never the same and his reintroduction was marred further by Muhammad Hafeez, who refused to practice with him. Azhar Ali didn't want to lead the side. Thus, both became the moral police in a society where crime is rife and where fixing cases weren't new.
Both senior players were convinced by the higher-ups in PCB to let bygones be bygones. The debate over his comeback hardly ever ceased. The spotlight was always on him and the past memories could not fade away. He lost that passion for the game that Asif Bajwa, his mentor, instilled in him and he became more pragmatic. A hurt Amir just couldn't develop a liking for the white kit and started grumbling about his workload. But the officials, like our bureaucrats in public offices, turned a deaf ear towards him. His form was dwindling and he didn't have the choice to retire. He became the ghost of his former self with occasional spells of brilliance.
He upped the ante in the 2016 Asia Cup and the Champions Trophy next year to remain relevant and then reverted to the detached man who is zoned out like the character in secret life of Walter Mitty. The 2019 ODI World Cup spurred him into action again and he ended up with a reasonably good performance bagging 17 wickets and cemented his spot in the team. The time was perfect to call it quits and Amir, whose enthusiasm was ebbing away, knows a thing or two about using the situation to his advantage. It is like when you become indispensable for your employer and ask for incentives that can't be denied.
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
If Dale Steyn, James Anderson, and Stuart Broad relish the opportunity to play the most challenging format of the game than why is Amir bowing out from the prized Test arena? This decision will not go well with cricket fanatics who adore Test cricket. It is this format where the big boys compete and become immortal.
Lastly, the PCB and all cricket governing boards should chalk out a plan to invest in Test cricket and build on initiatives such as the ICC Test Championship. It is vital to bring back cricket in Pakistan and make lively pitches to maintain a balance between bat and bowl so the rising stars of the game do not disgrace Test cricket with an early exit.