Spot-fixing controversy November 4, 2011

Team management failed Amir, says mentor


Mohamamd Amir was a victim of Pakistan's cricketing culture and, specifically, the team management that failed to protect him, his mentor Asif Bajwa has said. Bajwa runs an academy in Rawalpindi that became Amir's second home from the age of 11, where he would live for long stretches with Bajwa looking after him.

"It was the team management's responsibility to take care of him," Bajwa told ESPNcricinfo. "They should have taken a strict stance but the culture is very lenient and unprofessional. Why couldn't they shut out those elements that tempted our cricketers?

"I brought up him up but he was distracted only after entering the international arena, where he didn't find the right people around him. They [the PCB] wanted a cricketer to represent Pakistan - we gave them one. But now who is responsible? Who is to be blame? He was a player with extraordinary cricketing skills but he was very naïve ... the board should have taken care of the other elements."

Bajwa said he had been in contact with Amir during the spot-fixing trial. "My interaction with Amir until Wednesday was very emotional, he sounded helpless and insisted that he wanted one more chance - everyone deserves a second chance. He apologised to me, and I promised him that I'd help him to eventually return to the game. It's a challenge for me to rebuild his reputation, but I will be doing that. It's a challenge to remove a stigma, as our society is very cruel, but I believe he will be back."

On Thursday, Amir was sentenced to six months in a young offenders' detention centre for his role in the spot-fixing case; the rules suggest he can be out in three months' time on good behaviour. His former team-mates Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt, and their agent Mazhar Majeed, were sent to jail for terms ranging from a year to 32 months.

In his remarks while handing out the sentence, Justice Cooke noted Amir's background - he comes from a village near Islamabad where his father was a watchman in a government school. Compared to his fellow convicts, he was found to be unsophisticated, uneducated and impressionable.

"An 18-year-old from a poverty-stricken village background, very different to your own privileged one, who, whilst a very talented bowler, would be inclined to do what his senior players and particularly his captain told him, especially when told there was money in it for him and this was part of the common culture. For an impressionable youngster, not long in the team to stand out against the blandishments of his captain would have been hard," the judge said.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • maddy20 on November 6, 2011, 13:23 GMT

    Poor kid. Even though I am not a big fan of Pak cricket team, one has just gotta feel sorry for this guy. Raw talent gone waste.

  • Masud_BITK on November 6, 2011, 10:23 GMT

    I had the same experience, I born in a poor family, gained quick reputation. In this case, I have moral values and respect my parents and family by showing honesty. Why I need more money at this age? I have no hesitation to say that he should be punished and it was a real justice.

  • dummy4fb on November 6, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    I feel really sorry for this guy (i saw his house it was just a small house with the simplest things u can imagine ) i felt so sorry for him with his dad crying and then when iread those comments real pity about the stuff that happened really wish he comes back not pakistan but the world needs a talent like him to be there

  • dummy4fb on November 6, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    What a bowler..What a shame, this guy has the chance to be better than the great Wasim Akram, now he is not even playing cricket anytime soon,

  • dummy4fb on November 5, 2011, 18:55 GMT

    I am an Indian But I really felt sad for Aamir. He is a terrific talent and I would say that the PCB is responsible for this. Hope he will come back soon

  • omarqureshidubai on November 5, 2011, 15:01 GMT

    There hve been instances of ppl giving their own examples,that they are poor but would not do such a thing.To all those who try to relate their economic/social conditions with Amir,.How many of you have been a 17yr old,living in a "village" and in quest of being one of the best bowler while rising to stardom that too at an age when most of you poor/middleclass people are fanticising of movie stars/cricket players!If there is such a person he would seem justified criticising amir for his actions.My ancestoral village is same as amir's, although i have never lived in that village life,my father bein a politician of the area,my interaction with them is immense. These village boys dont have enough exposure to the outside world.A poor civilian living in a city is far more mature compared to one living in a village.Their decision making is weak,easily manipulated and gulliable.You are able to comment online, but there is no internet in my village, heck not even 3phase elect. to supply power.

  • On_me_head_son on November 5, 2011, 13:13 GMT

    As a Pakistani fan it was tough to know that we'd be losing a talent like Amir.There have been mixed reactions/comments regarding his punishment & that's understandable.I for one agree that if you're going to cheat in any shape or form then you cannot expect to get off with a small fine/short ban. Yes he is young,from a poor background etc etc. but that is no excuse. I pray that Insha'Allah he learns from this & if given a second chance he can come back strong. As for Asif & Butt? Well they should NEVER be allowed to play cricket again..Butt wasn't exactly Pakistan's answer to Sachin,Sehwag anyway-so good riddance. Asif was an excellent bowler who like Mcgrath worked out the batsmans weakness & had a fairly consistent line & length. However thats where the similarity ends because Glenn Mcgrath will always be remembered as one of the greats unlike Asif. Just want to say thanks to all the Indian bro's out there who have posted some pretty supportive comments. Sport CAN bring ppl together

  • Haleos on November 5, 2011, 12:53 GMT

    @InnocentGuy - wonderful. I still can not believe the how many people support amir as if he is bowling equivalent of bradman. He hass not even played a year. Within a year he gets ccorrupted. Playing cricket for the country pays enough to live a decent life. All the justifications about being poor and uneducated are ridiculous.

  • Haleos on November 5, 2011, 12:50 GMT

    @Qazi Hassan Farooqi - first of all, I am a middle class person with humble background. If what you say about karachi kids is true, there is even stronger case for amir to be made an example. if he let away easily other poor kids will follow his example. I know lots of poor people who live with dignity and will die of hunger rather than getting bribed. It just shows the upbringing of a person.

  • pakisstan on November 5, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    aamir is a very very very talented bowler in cricket history, i have never seen any one bowling like that he is a class swing both side, very good to see him, i much sad about what he did but he is a human and also human makes mistake every body should forgive him, asif and salman butt.

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