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August 20, 2010

In appreciation of Mohammad Amir

Samir Chopra
Mohammad Amir always provides a grand visual feast with his bowling  © Getty Images
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In February 1999, as the Asian Test Championship got underway, India took on Pakistan in Calcutta (now Kolkata). On the very first day, I found out, much to my delight, that a Bangladeshi restaurant in Manhattan was showing the game live - on a large screen television, no less. The timings were still inconvenient though; New York was in the grip of a typically freezing winter, and my venue of choice was a half-hour walk from home. Company would be nice in my cricket watching endeavours.

So, I asked my good Australian friend and housemate, David, if he'd like to join me for the first session of play on the second day. He sounded unenthusiastic in his response: he didn't have a dog in this particular race, and why would he want to go out on a cold winter's night? Sensing his hesitation, I played my trump card: "You know, there's a new Pakistani quick that's playing - I've heard he's bloody fast". At this, David's ears perked up, and a few minutes later, loaded down with heavy jackets, scarves and gloves, we stepped out to make that long walk. (Shoaib Akhtar did do a lot of damage that day)

Eleven years on, a new Pakistani quick is still occasion for excitement. Wahab Riaz's debut was spectacular all right, but to be honest, I'm writing because in all the cricket I've watched this year, some of the most thrilling moments have been provided by Mohammed Amir, Pakistan's latest production from its mysterious factory dedicated to producing pacemen (its location hasn't been reliably ascertained, but there is some suspicion it is located in the Punjab).

Amir does all a left-arm quick could and should do: he bowls genuinely express deliveries; he cuts and seams the ball; he can reverse swing; he can bowl yorkers and short-pitched deliveries with ease. And to cap it all off, he has amazing body language: besides the electric smile and the aeroplane celebrations, he possesses an action that conveys the power and dynamism of pace bowling in ample measure (and like that of some greats of years gone by, is whippy and muscular both).

Fast bowlers are sometimes called the showponies of cricket, those that aim to the provide the supposedly most thrilling sight of all, that of a stump sent cartwheeling. Amir always promises a grand visual feast in that sense, but he also prompts admiration at the sight of a young man dealing in the advanced skills of his trade with consummate mastery (he conceals the ball in his run-up as well as anyone out there).

I don't know where this young man's career is headed, but for his sake and for the sake of cricket spectators the world over, I hope he stays fit. Batsmen the world over might not appreciate my attempts to get the gods of fate squared up behind Amir, but even they, when standing at the non-striker's end, might find the generosity of spirit to appreciate this budding maestro's skills.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

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Posted by Starly on (January 27, 2012, 0:15 GMT)

This is both street smart and inetlligent.

Posted by Hiten on (August 31, 2010, 6:47 GMT)

Oh, what a tangled web we weave...

Posted by imran on (August 26, 2010, 7:15 GMT)

No doubt Aamir is good bowler, but before everyone starts buying stock on this guy, let the guy prove himself. He has not done much!! He could be a one hit wonder. I am a Pakistani, and as much as I love my team and want to see them win, BUT cant help admire players like Shane Watson. The guy is a wicket taker, good bowler and an opening batsman for Aussie. You cant beat that with a stick.

Aamir has shown glimpse of what he can do with a bat, but let him prove, before you guys make his head soooo big.

Posted by syed on (August 26, 2010, 5:31 GMT)

well i hope he is not known as bowls like Wasim or compare to the Legend. hope one day his name is taken as Aamir the great fast bowler and known by his name all round world as the great fast fowler..i wish him luck...i tell this as a fan for cricket and not the team...

Posted by Fan on (August 25, 2010, 15:02 GMT)

Asif, Amir, and Ajmal - "The A-Team"

Posted by Syed Mouhid on (August 24, 2010, 7:35 GMT)

Well well....Pakistan team mixed up with the Indian (that obviously means Paks bowling mixed with Indian Batting) I really don't think any team...any team at all will stand a chance.

Posted by Naiem Usmani on (August 24, 2010, 6:41 GMT)

I think Mohammad Amir is brilliant, but the win was a collective team effort becoz in the 1st innings debutant got fiper and i thought Ajmal Bowled very well. Mohamad Yousuf has again proved that what he can do we should not only think what he scored but i think if at all Azhar Ali scored runs it was becoz of yousuf. It will be interesting to see weather Pakistan board will give us any more shocks by..................... I hope that wont happen in future. I strongly believe Yousuf is one of the very best if not the best. I WISH PAKISTAN HUGE SUCCESS AT LORDs.

Posted by Aftab Qureshi on (August 22, 2010, 21:49 GMT)

Amir's talent is beyond doubt. He has proved his point to some of the best in two of today's best test teams. I have only two worries: fitness and slander. Fitness is something he can take care of, with the help of the team management and Board. But not slander, which has destroyed many a creer. I only wish opponents do not resort to demoralize him by criticizing his bowling action or leveling allegations of ball tampering. All points considered, I would credit the selectors for picking him for the tour and his captain and coaches to inspire him.

Posted by Ratee on (August 22, 2010, 17:51 GMT)

Well man the fast bowlers did not start with Imran Khan in Pakistan. People forget Khan Muhammad and Fazal Mahmood.

Posted by waterbuffalo on (August 22, 2010, 9:06 GMT)

@ harmanjeet, an indo/pak team would beat anybody on earth, the rest of the world wouldn't have a chance, can you imagine Dravid, Sachin, Yousuf, Laxman, Dhoni batting together? Gambhir and Sehwag opening, unfortunately Yousuf might run Sachin and Dravid out, heheh, but seriously , watching Yousuf and Sachin batting together would be the height of cricket batssmanship. It's a very good idea, I would fly to India just to see one Test.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samir Chopra
Samir Chopra is professor of philosophy at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He blogs at samirchopra.com. His collection of essays on cricket, Eye on Cricket: Reflections on The Great Game, has been published by HarperCollins. @EyeonthePitch

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