Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir said match-fixers should be banned for life as he prepares to return to Test cricket at Lord’s, where an infamous 2010 spot-fixing scandal landed him a jail term and a five-year ban.
The fast bowler backed comments from England captain Alastair Cook, who said anyone caught match-fixing should be thrown out of the sport for good.
“If fixing is still happening then it’s really alarming,” Amir said in an interview before his departure for the four-Test tour of England. “I fully back that fixers should be banned for life.”
The 24-year-old left-armer can expect a cool reception from fans at Lord’s, where he was caught bowling no-balls to order in a sting operation carried out by a tabloid newspaper.
But Cook said earlier this month that he had no problem playing against Amir, who has served his ban and returned to international cricket in January.
Amir and new-ball partner Mohammad Asif bowled no-balls to order on the instructions of their captain Salman Butt. All three received five-year bans and, together with sports agent Mazhar Majeed, jail terms.
Since his ban expired, Amir has played only limited-overs matches,but now he will come full circle with a Test return at Lord’s — a twist of fate that he called 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.”
– ‘My real comeback’ -Amir’s pace and wicket-taking ability make him an automatic choice for the Test series opener from July 14, when 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 haul of 6-84 in the tainted Test of 2010 features on the honours board, where outstanding play is chronicled.
Amir also said he will be ready for on-field sledging and the inevitable chants by England fans. At a Twenty20 international in New Zealand in January the stadium announcer 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,” added Amir.
Amir also said his experiences had made him a stronger person than he was before the events of 2010, when he was still a 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 play five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 international during the tour.