December 31, 2009

Saad Shafqat

Aamer sings the tunes of Imran and Wasim

Saad Shafqat


In the coming months, Mohammad Aamer will put more meat on that thin, almost wiry frame, and learn more tricks © Getty Images
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Pakistan fast bowlers have a tradition of first unveiling their menacing intent in Australia. The last two men who did this were named Imran Khan and Wasim Akram. Now there is a new kid on the block answering to the name of Mohammad Aamer. By an ominous coincidence, Aamer has taken a five-for in a losing cause in Melbourne, something Imran and Wasim also did.

Ominous, because after Imran took 5 for 122 in a 1977 Test that Pakistan lost to Australia by 348 runs, he went on to take those 12 wickets at Sydney that stand out as one of the great milestones in Pakistan's cricket history. Wasim's gratification was more delayed but no less grand. In early 1990 he took 6 for 62 and 5 for 98 in a Melbourne Test that Pakistan still lost. Two years later he was back in Melbourne, this time to be crowned Man of the Match in a World Cup final.

For the budding fast bowler, a tour of Australia offers an unparalleled growth curve. The pitches are hard, the atmosphere intense, the competition unforgiving. There is no more utterly sink-or-swim scenario in world cricket. Imran first came here in late 1976 with a reputation as a bits-and-pieces allrounder capable at best of wayward medium-pace.

He returned a few weeks later recognised as one of the foremost fast bowlers of the world. Wasim came here as an unknown in early 1985 and immediately took 5 for 21 in a crucial one-day tie against Australia.

"Everyone had to sit up and take notice," says Brian Murgatroyd of Cricket Australia in an ESPN documentary on Wasim. It marked the beginning of a career that would see Wasim counted among the great fast bowlers of all time.

Mohammad Aamer hails from Gujjar Khan, a town of about 70,000 that you pass on the motorway going from Islamabad to Lahore. Seventy thousand may seem substantial, but in Pakistan, a country of 160 million, it's the boonies. Now, however, it is on the cricketing map. This is where Aamer learned his bounding leap and wind-up action, and his ability to slant it across the right-hander down the corridor of uncertainty. Presumably, this is also where he picked up an attitude, including a tendency to mock impertinent batsmen by throwing flying kisses down the pitch. Less clear is where he picked up his disregard for renown. Before a Champions Trophy match against India a few months earlier, Aamer announced his desire to dismiss Sachin Tendulkar, and before this Melbourne Test he told Ricky Ponting to beware of the short-pitched delivery. Mission accomplished, in both cases.

He lacks the typical fast bowler's height, but a demon like Malcolm Marshall wasn't particularly tall either. And he is not fully adept at bringing it in to the right-hander, but even Imran took a while before he began moving it both ways with equal ease.

Most importantly, Aamer has shown he is full of fight. In a recent ODI against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi, he came in at 86 for 8 and posted the highest score ever by a number 10. The point is not so much that he is a capable batsman - although he did play some fine groundstrokes - but that he has a lot of heart. Certainly, a five-for in Australia on an unsporting wicket shows that he has the potential to get on top of any team.

He is still only a teenager. Although his official age of 17 may be under-reported, you can tell just by looking he is not a day over 19, at the most. Already he can clock at 150 kilometers per hour. In the coming months, he will put more meat on that thin, almost wiry frame, and learn more tricks. The evidence suggests Aamer is preparing to fill the shoes of a fabled fast-bowling dynasty that has preceded him. If history is any judge, they will take him far.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi

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Posted by Tom on (September 7, 2012, 21:49 GMT)

hey there is a lot of difference b/w crkceit baseball,crkceit is so popular but baseball is less than crkceit .Baseball-Maximum of 3 legal pitches,Consists of 9 players.Batting order:PredeterminedCricket:Balls/Pitches allowed per batsman: Only limited by the number of balls bowled in a matchFlexible.Consists of 11 players

Posted by Gilliana on (February 1, 2010, 2:48 GMT)

I think this kid Aamer is one of the best Pakistani fast bowlers I have seen in the past sixty years of watching test cricket. At ths tender age he has definitely shown more potential as a bowler than Imran when he first came to Australia. This kid will learn well and when he fills out he will touch speeds of 155+. I am definitely be looking forward to see this young lad once again when the Pakistanis tour Down Under again. Ameer needs another young left hand fast bowler to give Pakistan a lethal combination. I can only see greatness in Aamer and wish him a brilliant future. Insanallah, I wish to see the day.

Posted by Gilliana on (February 1, 2010, 2:46 GMT)

I think this kid Aamer is one of the best Pakistani fast bowlers I have seen in the past sixty years of watching test cricket. At ths tender age he has definitely shown more potential as a bowler than Imran when he first came to Australia. This kid will learn well and when he fills out he will touch speeds of 155+. I am definitely be looking forward to see this young lad once again when the Pakistanis tour Down Under again. Ameer needs another young left hand fast bowler to give Pakistan a lethal combination. I can only see greatness in Aamer and wish him a brilliant future. Insanallah, I wish to see the day.

Posted by Aadith Iyengar on (January 23, 2010, 7:14 GMT)

He's a talented bowler,but Sharma bowled quicker in Australia & excessive cricket's made him a 130-135k bowler.PCB will make or break his career. There seems to be some confusion over the ranking system.The rankings in cricket aren't like the stupid tennis(ATP) ranking system where whoever plays more games ends up with most points.When you lose,you lose points & hence your 'rating'.So it's not quantity of games played that is all important like in tennis where Safina gets ahead of serena williams(& there are other examples),it's who you win or conversely,who you lose against,ie. quality of results,that is important.So essentially,each team scores points based on the results of their matches. Each team's 'rating' is equal to its total points scored divided by the total matches and series played.Also,the ranking reflects performance of only the last 3 years.Series played in the first two years of the three-year limit count half; essentially, recent matches are given more weight.

Posted by Saeed on (January 14, 2010, 12:33 GMT)

In response to Shafqat hindustani. I am laughing over your over the top comments about India's numero uno status. Man, you are living in lala's paradise. It's time to wake up. Can you tell me one series in which India played against Australian team that had Mcgrath, Warne and Lee??? I will tell you, remember the 99-00 series of India's down under? ha, India lost that series 3 nil. And then no doubt India won that series in India vs Australia coz of harbhajjan singh but that was in home conditions. Besides this India has not won a series in South Africa or Australia and now only has started to beat black caps in their den, something which Pakistan always did it with great ease.And for your information Pakistan beat South Africa in their last trip like India did. You are misssing a lot of facts, but I will ignore you as you seem to have taken interest in Cricket only recently. Perhaps some more growing up will help ;) love

Posted by pranesh on (January 2, 2010, 15:07 GMT)

@waterbuffalo : I dont recall pakistan beating anyone in the last few years, save 1 test against new Zealand. And read newspapers or cricinfo first. Aamer's out. Real bowling attack and Mohd Sami : what a joke.

Posted by Ishrat on (January 2, 2010, 11:10 GMT)

Well said Water buffalo start the debate and then fizzle it out by giving the list of your favorites. LOL the number of posts just shows how passionate we are about our cricket. Aamer or any other fast bowler is a cause to celebrate as the mere sight of someone clocking 150 clicks and being aggressive is what the cricket fans want to see. There is a dearth of good fast bowlers and with many of them on the injury list the entire galaxy is never at show. Could you imagine a line up including a fully fit Shoaib Akhter, Mohd Zahid and Aamer alongwith Asif (One dreams) so come on guys celebrate the fast bowlers bowling short of a length moving the ball and staring at the batsman. BTW loved THE SPELL Sharma Versus Ponting

Posted by Mohammed Moizullah on (January 2, 2010, 8:41 GMT)

Guys......cool down.... have seen all ur comments...

I know ind/pak has a long rivalry but whats the use if we throw some idiotic comments here... lets wait n watch what these players are capable of when they meet...dont know when...?

Ofcourse both countries had great legends of their time but lets see what this new bunch of youngsters can do to help their respective countries win big events...

I pray for both countries youngsters that they maintain the consistency in their game and make the nation proud of them...and just not get carried away by the hype created by audience and mostly these corrupted selectors of both countries...

may allah bless these youngters with great and successful future ahead..

Mohammed Moizullah--India

Posted by waterbuffalo on (January 2, 2010, 7:36 GMT)

@ invisible, you are right my friend, nicely put. To my Indian friends constantly harping about Number 1. I don't recall India beating Australia in Australia. To be no.1 you have to do what Taylor and co did in the Windies in 95, beat the best team in the world at home. AUS beat Windies in Windies, until you beat Aus in Aus, don't talk to me about Number 1 in the world. You have no idea what it means. In closing I would like to add that my favourite Batsman in the world is Sehwag and my fav Captain Dhoni, so take it easy, guys, don't be so sensitive. Watch the three Pakistani bowlers tomorrow, Aamer, Asif, and Gul and see what a real bowling attack looks like.

Posted by mqi on (January 2, 2010, 5:06 GMT)

I would not give much importance to the performance of Amir and Umar till they play 15-20 matches. They have started very good, but that can be dangerous for paki players. Just see the attitude of Shoeb Akhtar and how he became bad history maker in cricket arena. See how Asif went straight up with his wonderful bowling and then came down sharp with his drugs. I do not like Amir's too much celebration and his head band. Likewise, I did not like Umar's pointing hand to his captain in one of the matches. These are not decent attitude for making a great players. They are very young and they should learn by following players like Lara, Ponting, Tendulkar,Mcgrath and others like them. Pakistan's fans, do not hype these youngstars as many like them has become dark horse within a year in the past. Thay have a long way to become anyone close to Imran/Miandad/Wasim/Wakar/Inzi/Yousuf/Younus. Stop comparing with these group.

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