Breaking Down the Mohammad Amir Retirement Saga
The country was sympathetic towards Mohammad Amir when he, along with Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt, ruined the name of the nation by indulging in spot-fixing. To this day, Asif and Salman weren’t even given a beacon of hope by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) about them playing for Pakistan. Yet, for some reason –some may call it his extraordinary talent, and some may say that he was shown leniency because he was young at the time when he committed the crime – Amir broke the shackles with support from the PCB. He got to don the Pakistani star on his chest once again in 2016 after serving his sentence.
Amir was quick to become the spearhead of the Pakistan attack in all the formats. He was a 24-year-old fast bowler steaming in to prove his critics wrong. For two years, everything seemed to be on the right track until Amir’s body started to cramp up. He got injured a few months before the 2019 World Cup. He struggled on and off, but he proved his worth by making it to the World Cup and performing brilliantly.
In 2019, Amir decided to take retirement from Test cricket before the difficult tour of Australia. He received criticism for that, but, in my opinion, it was a decision that he took to preserve his body so that he could fulfill his dream of representing Pakistan till the 2027 World Cup.
It was around the same time-frame when Wahab Riaz quit red-ball cricket. To me, even he was unduly criticized because, let’s face it, only a player knows what he is going through. Only he is best suited to make such a decision. Both of them are fast bowlers. They decided to quit Test cricket and play more leagues and limited-overs cricket. Even if it’s for the money, I think a player deserves whatever he wants to do with his career. Lasith Malinga, a Sri Lankan fast bowler, too announced his retirement from Tests when he was just 27. Yet, he continues to shine for the Sri Lankans even today despite being around 38 years old.
The team management did not sack Amir, and in the first series in the COVID era, on Pakistan’s tour of England, Amir was a part of the team. However, he was wicket-less in the two matches that he played. In the second match, he bowled two overs and went for 25 runs. Wahab, on the other hand, performed well. As a result, the management, in a bid to try out young players against the weaker Zimbabwe, decided to drop Amir.
Wahab continued to perform well, and two matches later, he was rested and not dropped. The point of conveying this comparison is that Amir and Wahab both would have been sidelined from the team had the team management been angry and wanted them to suffer, but they didn’t. Instead, they allowed Amir to prove himself, a chance that Amir failed to grab with both hands.
Amir, with a tweet here and there, showed dissent occasionally through his Twitter account. However, it wasn’t until the Pakistani management completely ignored him for the New Zealand series that he ended up announcing his retirement from all formats of the game, blaming the team management for his decision. Amir stated that the current team management hasn’t been healthy for his mental health. Therefore, he noted, he had decided to retire.
Talking from a purely unbiased perspective, yes, I understand that every player has the right to make decisions in their life. I respect Amir’s decision. However, difficulties faced by cricketers in pursuing their careers are nothing new. Whether it’s Misbah-ul-Haq blooming his career in the late 30s or Michael Hussey doing the same, we only find examples of constant grit and determination. After looking at the PCB’s investment, he could have handled things in a better manner. He could have gone to the PCB Chairman and conveyed his reservations about the current team management.
In a recent press conference, Amir said that no matter what, he won’t play under the coaching of Misbah and Waqar as he feels that not all good players can become good coaches. Only the players know how good (or otherwise) these two are as coaches. However, I will defend their decision to drop Amir. As stated above, Amir’s form was declining big time, and it was high time that he was sent back to domestic cricket to work even harder!
Every individual has their likes and dislikes, but that doesn’t mean that you announce retirement from the game (which he has announced he will rescind once the management changes). This announcement has only hurt the image of the PCB and Pakistan cricket. In my opinion, Amir could have easily stayed on the sidelines, tweeted his heart out, and dealt with the issues in various ways instead of just announcing retirement from the game around ten months before the T20 World Cup. Here’s to hoping that whatever happens in the future, it proves to be the best decision for Pakistan cricket. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters!