Birthday boy Amir targets steady progress in Pakistan comeback

Shukriya Pakistan

Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir’s 23rd birthday celebrations were marred by a hamstring injury Monday as the former prodigy downplayed hopes of a speedy international recall following a four-year ban for spot-fixing.

Currently turning out for Omar Associates in Pakistan’s Grade-II tournament, Amir, who has bagged an impressive 22 wickets in four matches, was forced to sit out of the final against Karachi Port Trust at the National Sports Stadium in Karachi.

Regarded as one of world cricket’s brightest young prospects when he was banned for pre-arranging deliberate no balls during a Test against England, Amir said he was focusing on steady progress after four-and-a-half-years away from the game.

“To be honest I don’t want to talk of international cricket ahead of time. My ban will expire on September 2 this year so at the moment my focus is on gradual progress,” he told AFP.

“Four-and-a-half year is not trivial for a professional player but I was strong and survived and now I am playing and using the best facilities for which I am thankful to the ICC (International Cricket Council) and Pakistan Cricket Board.”

The talented left-armer, who was spotted by pace legend Wasim Akram and has the ability to swing the ball both ways with speed and control, was allowed to feature in Pakistani domestic cricket after the ICC revised its code earlier this year and relaxed the terms of his ban.

Amir said he will feature in the national Super Eight Twenty20 tournament expected to be held next month.

“I will play whatever events are available so that I progress steadily,” said Amir.

Pakistan’s battery of left-arm pacers was one of the few bright-spots in their recently-concluded World Cup campaign where they fell in the quarter-finals — but Amir said he was confident in his own abilities.

“My competition is only with myself,” he insisted, adding: “I don’t set my goals with others in mind, if I achieve my goals then there will be no competition.”

Amir became the youngest ever player, at 18, to take 50 Test wickets prior to his 2010 ban. His 51 scalps from 14 matches came at a cost of 29 apiece. -AFP