Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akthar on Tuesday said he was eager to take youngster Mohammad Amir under his wing and guide him back to the national team following his return to cricket after a five-year ban.
Amir, 23, was suspended along with then-captain Salman Butt and pacer Mohammad Asif for bowling no-balls to order as part of a complex betting scam exposed by a tabloid sting during Pakistan’s tour of England in 2010.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) lifted all sanctions on the trio earlier this month, making them eligible for domestic and international matches.
Akhtar, the fastest bowler in history, said he was looking to buy a team in the upcoming Pakistan Super League (PSL) Twenty20 tournament that will be staged in Qatar in February, and wanted to recruit Amir.
“I am planning to buy a team in the PSL and would like to have Amir in my team so that I can guide him and make him an effective bowler,” Akhtar, who retired in 2011, told AFP.
Now 40, Akhtar’s career briefly overlapped with Amir, who made his debut in 2009 aged 17.
The pair shared the attack in two one-day internationals in the 2010 Asia Cup and two Twenty20s against Australia in England the same year, before Amir’s career crashed to a halt following the ban.
“Everyone knows how talented Amir was when he played cricket so on his return he will have to work hard to become the same bowler,” said Akhtar.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has devised a rehabilitation programme for all three players, with Amir already playing grade cricket since April this year under a special dispensation by the ICC.
He picked up seven wickets in his last match, a non first-class qualifier for the Sui Southern Gas Company, with a cunning mix of inswingers, outswingers, bouncers and varied angles from over and around the wicket.
While some influential voices, including ex-captain-turned-commentator Ramiz Raja, have voiced their opposition to the spot-fixing trio ever being allowed to represent their country again, Akhtar said it was right for them to get a second chance.
“I have seen them suffer in the last five years so all three must be treated in the same manner,” said the former player, whose own career was dogged by controversy including a drug scandal, an infamous dressing room fight and frequent claims of insubordination.
“Imagine Pakistan’s attack with Amir, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan, Shahid Afridi and Yasir Shah and if they play together we can win the next World Twenty20,” he added.