Profile: Aamer Nazir - Fawad Hashmey (Pakistani Cricketer - Oct, 1993)

Aamer Nazir was the odd man in the 14-member Pakistan cricket party that toured the West Indies during the period from March to May this year. The 20-year-old youngster's selection in the na- tional team came as a bolt from the blue and sent everyone scur- rying to find out his antecedents.

Not much was discovered about him except that he impressed skipper Wasim Akram during the national trials at the Qaddafi Stadium. His lack of any outstanding performances during the domestic first-class season raised many eyebrows. In fact, Aamer did not appear at all in the first-class competitions and his participation was restricted only to the B-grade tournaments.

Wasim, however, stoutly defended the young paceman by admitting that he had been included in the team on his recommendation. "This young chap has great potential as I watched him from close quarters. I am sure he will show his talent and skill and prove that he has selected purely on merit," Wasim told reporters at the time of the team's selection.

Taken as the fifth seamer to supplement the efforts of Wasim, Waqar, Aaqib, and Rehman, in a side already brimming with speed- sters, Aamer did not have to wait for a long time to make his international debut.

After Pakistan lost the first one-dayer at Sabina Park, Kings- ton, Jamaica, Aamer was inducted into the side for the second game in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, when Aaqib broke down with back trouble.

It was, to say the least, a blind gamble by Wasim. Aamer had the worst start that any youngster would have imagined. The oc- casion appeared to have got the better of him. He faltered with his run-ups so many times that it left his colleagues and skipper red in the face with embarrasment.

Despite his obvious predicament in front of the packed stands, Aamer gave his team the initial breakthrough by claiming Desmond Haynes for eleven runs and eventually finished with figures of three for 43 from nine overs, a fine performance by no means, given his first-ever international game.

Of the 29 extras conceded by the Pakistanis, there were nine wides and no-balls each and the major share belonged to the young bowler who struggled to perfect his run-up. Though the problem continued to dog him, Aamer again emerged as the most succesful bowler in the third game at the same venue.

His removal of dangerman Brian Lara cheaply for five paved the way for Pakistan's maiden triumph over the West Indies in limited overs cricket on Caribbean soil. Lara had spearheaded the Win- dies' success in the opening two matches with solid knocks of 114 and 95.

Aamer went wicketless in the fourth game in St Vincent but his parsimonious figures of none for 17 from six overs went a long way in restricting West Indies well short of Pakistan's total and helped the touring side to win the match by 38 runs and level two-all.

In the fifth and deciding contest in Georgetown, the West In- dies chasing Pakistan's total of 244 for 6 in 50 overs, were dealt an early blow by Aamer who clean bowled Lara for five and put the braked on their free scoring. The match was declared as a tie by the ICC referee Raman Subha Row after the crowd invaded the pitch and denied Pakistan a possible chance of victory.

Aamer emerged from the one-day series with his reputation enhanced and made his debut in the second Test in Bridgetown, claiming two for 79 from 20 overs. Though he gained a lot of seasoning he still faced problems in adjusting his run-up, a fault attributed to his lack of experience in playing bit-time cricket.

Pitchforked into the national team and without any sufficient experience, Aamer followed the footsteps of Wasim who began his cricket career in similar circumstances. Only time will tell whether he would be successful as his skipper.

Born on January 2, 1971, Aamer completed his schooling from the renowned Muslim Model School in 1990. Some of the notable crick- eters produced by this institute include Asif Masood, Arif Butt, Mohammad Ilyas, Saleem Malik, Aamer Malik, and Mudassar Nazar. But he played little cricket during his days at the school and it was only after he did his matriculation that his interest in the game grew. His talent came to the fore when he joined the P&T Gymkhana, a leading club in Lahore.

He first appeared in domestic season in the 1992-93 season but played largely in the second-class tournaments. Aamer made his presence felt in his first game when playing for the Income Tax Department in the Patron's Trophy Grade-II Championship. His op- ponents were the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) who were at their wits' end in negotiating his swinging deliveries.

Aamer claimed six for 37 and his match figures of nine for 76 on the low Railway Stadium Track underlined his promise and talent. He should have been a logical choice to represent Lahore City in Grade-I of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Championship but fell a victim to the petty politics of LCCA.

But he did represent the Association in the Grade-II Trophy and earned laurels for himself with the season's best figures of eight for 42 against Dera Ghazi Khan. Lest he may have outshone the blue-eyed boys of the selectors Aamer was surprisingly dropped from the side that played the semi-final of the Trophy. Such are the cricket politics in this country.

Nevertheless, the youngster ended the season with his head high, claiming a total of 41 wickets that went quite a way in securing him the coveted tour of the West Indies. Though he still has a long journey ahead of him to scale the required stan- dards, Aamer is determined to reach that goal.

He has earned rich accolades from the likes of Imran Khan for his potential, but, at the same time, the former Pakistan captain has attributed Aamer's lack of basic cricket knowledge to the wretched domestic season.

Aamer has returned home rich in training from the West Indies and how much he had learned from that tour would be put on display during the 1993-94 season. This will be a crucial time in his burgeoning career and should he impress with his perfor- mance the way he did last season, he could clinch a permanent place in the national side.

***Aamer Nazir had been chosen for, and did play in the Lahore City team in the 1993-94 season's Wills Cup National One-day Tournament. He also represented Pakistan in the recently conclud- ed Sharjah tourney.