EVEN by the normal standards of activity in the usually topsy-turvy universe that defines Pakistan’s most popular sport, the chain of events that began with the news that Mohammed Amir had been included for the training camp ahead of the tour of New Zealand can only be described as frenetic.
With welcome news that grave reservations expressed by some senior players about the inclusion of Amir in the camp had been addressed to satisfaction of all concerned after a few days of intense diplomatic activity, the nation as a whole was starting to feel that things were perhaps getting back on track. However this sentiment did not last long as a shocking news in the shape of a provisional ban on Pakistan’s ace spinner Yasir Shah exploded on the national headlines without warning and threatened to plunge the nation into another round of depression.
What Pakistan needed now was some good news and good news is what the selectors delivered to the nation on Friday when they announced the Limited-over squads for the upcoming tour of New Zealand. Much to the relief of fans and observers of the exciting brand of Pakistan cricket, Mohammed Amir was included in both the ODI and T20I squads, subject to the granting of a visa by the New Zealand authorities.
The man who back in 2010 was regarded as the rightful inheritor to the throne of left-handed greatness, left vacant by the departure of Wasim Akram, is now part of the Pakistan squad again. His current form leading up to his inclusion in the national squad has been described as phenomenal by many, with the head coach of Pakistan Waqar Younis going as far as saying that despite the passage of more than five years of inactivity in a cricket field “You can't kill that zip as that's what Amir is all about. He is very humble, has very worked very hard in the training camp and I am proud of his attitude.''
With the backing of his coach and the blessings of legendary figures such as Imran Khan and Wasim Akram, the pace-bowler now stands on the verge of continuing his fascinating journey in international cricket where he has taken 51 Test, 25 ODI and 23 T20I wickets.
In exclusive remarks to PakPassion.net, an understandably elated Mohammed Amir who has worked hard since the expiry of his ban in September 2015, looked forward to making an international return after being selected for the Pakistan team for tour of New Zealand, stating that “I’m really excited that my name has been included in the squads for the tour of New Zealand. It's what I have been aiming for since my return to cricket and what I have been looking to achieve since my ban ended. There is nothing like playing for your country and that's what I want more than anything else.”
Whilst many of his detractors would like to point at events of the past to cast doubts over his integrity and suitability as a member of the national squad, the twenty-three year old has no doubts about the support and background work done on his behalf and how he intends to pay-back his fans for their unwavering support “I'm absolutely delighted at being given the opportunity to wear the Pakistan green shirt once again and I thank the Pakistan Cricket Board for giving me a second chance and also thank all of my friends and fans out there who have given me so much love and support, especially during the tough times. I've learnt a lot from my mistakes and I will never let the cricketing family down again. We all make mistakes and I have learnt the hard way. But I'm a more mature person now and will not let anyone down. I have a good team around me, a very supportive team who are looking after me in all aspects of my cricket and life. I'm indebted to them for their guidance and help.”
Spending the last few years away from the game he obviously has a lot of passion for, must have been painful for the bowler who was marked for greatness back in 2010 but being part of the team is something he genuinely seems to be enjoying as he states “I really enjoyed the recent fitness camp in Lahore and I thank the PCB for including me at the camp. It was fantastic to be around international players and team mates again and all of the coaching staff especially Waqar Younis. I worked hard at the camp and everyone was very supportive and friendly towards me. It was a very useful camp and certainly helped me in regards to a return to international cricket.”
Now that Amir has earned his place in the national squad, what Pakistan fans will want to know is if the bowler can get down to business and deliver the performances they have yearned for many years. Mohammad Amir knows what is expected of him and feels that the team environment is ideally suited for him to concentrate on getting on with his job, with the support of his fellow team members.
“I have respect for all of my team mates and have no problems at all with any of them. There was a good blend of senior and junior players at the camp and it was a good atmosphere. I'm happy to play alongside anyone and have no issues with any players at all.”
Shahid Afridi's support to Mohammad Amir's return has turned out to be a crucial factor in his return and the Pakistan bowler is indebted to this help as he admits "I would like to thank Shahid Afridi for all of his support and guidance. He is like an elder brother to me and his help has been crucial to the progress I have made since my return to cricket. He encouraged me at the Bangladesh Premier League when we met, also in domestic cricket and recently at the fitness camp. His support has been very important", he concludes. — PakPassion.net