There are cricketers who, more than anything in the world, want to represent Pakistani in all three formats of the game. Then there is Mohammad Amir who can’t play in all three formats because he wants to “improve”.
Well not really improve, Amir is planning on extending his international cricket career by skipping on test cricket. It is apparent that Amir lacks the stamina to continue representing Pakistan in Tests, ODIs, and T20s. Amir denied the rumors that he wants to retire from test cricket. He clarified that he just wants to play important test matches to avoid strain on his body.
The left-arm pacer claims that England and Australia are doing the same with their players so why can’t Pakistan follow the same system.
Reflecting back on the years that he lost to the spot-fixing scandal in 2010, Amir said;
Cricket is different since 2010 and if you look back I have lost five precious years of my career. Just imagine had I played in all those years, the count could have been 70-80 Tests.
Amir himself is to blame for whatever happened to him but mistakes happen and Amir realized his mistakes and came clean. Anyway, talking about how he is getting old and starting to feel the fatigue, Amir said;
I can’t roll back that lost time but I can manage my workload to extend my career as much as I can. With every passing day, I’m getting older and I know fans want me to play. But if you look rationally I’m human and not an iron man. My passion is still there and I want to be there for fans, serving the country for a long time. I have played 30 Tests so far. I think in the next few years I might miss a few and possibly I might end up with 50 Tests.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to you individually. You know your body very well and you know how much your body can sustain.
It won’t be wrong to say that Amir has somewhat lost his bowling charm and electricity that he had before his ban. Though he has been clinical in terms of line and length and even economy, he has failed to rack up the much-needed wickets that could boost his morale, mostly due to the poor fielding performances by his fellow teammates.
Criticism aside, he has put in the hard work by bowling as much as he could but couldn’t measure the results in wickets. In fact, since his return to international cricket, he has bowled 864.3 overs, more than any Pakistani fast bowler. With those numbers, he is still sixth on the list of fast bowlers with most overs bowled in the world.
Since his return, Amir has added 16 tests to his tally managing to get 44 wickets conceding 37.25 runs per wicket. Overall, Amir has represented Pakistan in 30 test matches with 95 wickets to his name.
Amir and Head Coach in an Agreement
Amir seems pretty serious about his vow to not play much test cricket. According to him, head coach Mickey Arthur and Amir have already reached an agreement to follow a squad rotation policy. Amir said;
I came to agreement with Mickey and with so much cricket we need to follow a rotation policy so that everyone is fresh and fully fit for the country. His planning ahead of the 2019 World Cup is working very well. I didn’t say I don’t want to play Test cricket but that I want to weave myself in, resting for a few and playing the important games. This is being done by Australia and England, so why not us? We have so many potential bowlers around and all need to be played it’s not like I will stay forever but whatever time I have I would rather stay with greater impact.
Though Amir has managed to avoid any career threatening injuries so far, he says that he can’t risk his career by putting in too much effort that his body can’t handle.
Sometimes people don’t realise that bowlers need rest and when you go out with injury, if it’s a serious one then you have no future. You fade away and people forget. I have seen many examples in our system, of players who have come and gone.
And he wants to remain fit for the rest of his career so he can survive;
With so much cricket going on I have be very careful with my body. I have lost enough in my life and this is my profession, I need to be very careful going forward. Fitness is everything and for a fast bowler it’s really tough for me to play everything. A good impactful performance comes with a fitter body and with a fresh state of mind.
Following International Example?
Regardless of what Amir believes, it is public knowledge that Pakistani fast bowlers lack the fitness to bowl at their peaks for more than a few overs. A bowler who can barely bowl 4 overs in a T20 is not going to improve his performance by skipping out on any format. Pace bowlers need prime fitness to achieve desired results.
As far as rotation policy goes, bowling legends including Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Michael Holding and many others have been against it. South Africa, which probably has the best fast bowling attack in the world, does not follow any rotation policy and bowling spearheads like Amir, Starc, Boult and Rabada tend to play more matches than the supporting bowlers.
Amir is still young, he should try to improve his fitness and performance to a level where his services are required for all matches against strong teams and simply bowling at fast bowler friendly wickets does not make one attain that level.