England v Pakistan, 4th npower Test, Lord's, 2nd day August 27, 2010

Amir's inspiration not enough for Pakistan

Mohammad Amir wrecked England's middle order and was the youngest bowler to get his name on the honours board at Lord's
29

An ambulance screeched past the Grace Gates at Lord's as Mohammad Amir started the first over of the day from the Pavilion End. The impact of those loud sirens lingered long in the ears of the thousands clustered inside the ground as Amir shot out the England middle order with the ruthlessness of a sniper. His attack was cold-blooded, quiet and quick. All of England shivered on an overcast Friday morning.

Having been unlucky during the brief spell of play possible on the first day, when a hapless Umar Akmal dropped an easy offering from Alastair Cook, Amir returned today undaunted and not haunted. Also, he was that bit smarter after Waqar Younis, Pakistan's coach, had suggested he bowl a little closer to the stumps having noticed him going wider on Thursday afternoon.

A quick learner Amir did not break any sweat in adopting the suggestion. In his first three overs of the day he fired in one unplayable delivery after the other, casting a spell over a startled England line up. Cook, who seemed to have crushed his demons at Edgbaston with a resolute century, was forced to play the perfect outswinger which he duly edged to Kamran Akmal behind the stumps.

The fact that Kevin Pietersen was hunting in the dark for fluency was not lost on Amir as he slanted a fuller and wider delivery that was thoughtlessly chased leaving Pietersen to pay the price. Paul Collingwood was next, going back deep in the crease only to be beaten by an in-ducker that swung in sharply to trap him in front. Amir then proved that Eoin Morgan still has plenty to learn at Test level as he drew Morgan into an outside edge third ball. Amir's mind never stopped ticking and England looked in danger of folding for a total under 100 for the first time this summer.

Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior persevered to avoid that ignominy but Amir achieved a personal landmark when he induced the England wicketkeeper to edge a delivery that straightened late after pitching. It was Amir's 50th Test wicket. He may not be the quickest to the landmark, but his statistics reveal a young talent that is unique. In his 14th Test, Amir's strike-rate is 55.6 with 51 wickets. It compares well with some of the best fast bowlers of this generation: Wasim Akram (63.7/45), Waqar Younis (38.7/71), Dale Steyn (42/61) and his team-mate Mohammad Asif (44.2/70). Just 18 years old, Amir is already walking the same path the good and great started out on.

Numbers, though, aren't a true reflection of Amir, who is on the shortlist for ICC's Emerging Player of the Year. It is his fighting attitude, his perseverance, his knack of reading batsman's grey areas, and his ability to ignore the woeful fielding mistakes that stand out like logos of prestigious brands. It means the captain can depend on him regardless of the conditions. The captain can throw him the ball when the situation is getting out of hand. The captain can walk up to him to seek advice. Champions prove pressure builds them and Amir is already a matchwinner.

Earlier in the summer, against Australia at Headingley, on the first morning in severely overcast conditions, he put Pakistan in the winning position straight away by rattling the Australians into submission. Then, in the third Test of this series at The Oval, in far brighter light on the third afternoon, on a true pitch, he worked hard on the ball to get the reverse swing to trigger England's sudden collapse and put Pakistan in a winning position.

A critical element of Amir's success is he enjoys his bowling immensely, just as he is enthusiastic about targeting the opposition's best batsmen. Even if he is only a teenager in Test cricket he already has an enviable list of victims: Ricky Ponting and Andrew Strauss (four times in four matches); Collingwood and Cook (three times in four matches); Michael Hussey (three times in four matches).

Sadly for him, and Pakistan, the day did not end in the rousing fashion it had begun. Butt missed a trick when Amir and Asif had England under the cosh before lunch. Instead of having fielders at vital close-in positions such as a third or fourth slip, an extra gully and a short leg, Butt showed his inexperience by wasting men at thirdman, deep point and deep square-leg. The wilting English hearts suddenly started swelling with hope and by the end of the day it was England who held the edge in the final Test. "If we were 110 all out this Test series would end two-all," said Stuart Broad, who got his name on the honours board at Lord's with a maiden Test century.

Amir, the youngest bowler to get a five-for at Lord's (he became the youngest to achieve the feat in England at The Oval last week), was proud but pointed out it was disappointing to end the day behind England. "It was special day considering I got the best figures in my career but I'm a little sad because they are [now] in good position. Now we are on the backfoot."

Yet Amir and Asif, his comrade-in-arms, who was unlucky not to take a wicket today despite delivering his usual stack of marvels, will return unfazed in the second innings to create panic in the minds of the batsmen. Renowned for their unpredictability, Pakistan can be certain of that.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • k-shoxx on August 28, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    well done SALMAN ...u broke inzi's record for passive mentalities....infact no one in this world till the end of this world can be so passive & defensive....as u were yesterday.....u dumped amir's heroics...u dumped his struggle..u dumped the chance to tie the series....u guyz dont deserve to win thats all.

  • SDHoneymonster on August 28, 2010, 9:38 GMT

    Pipsonian - it's not a deliberate attempt at time wasting, it just makes him feel comfortable. I was at the match yesterday and thought it would be a problem, but all the overs were gotten in before the cut-off time, and there were 108 to be bowled in the day. He only spends time doing it at the end of the over, and the Pakistani seamers weren't exactly rushing back to their marks and itching to bowl in the final session either. And that absurd rule you propose would limit both play against spin and pace - there should be a balance between bat and ball yes, and it's been too long in favour of the bat, but the way to resolve it is not by making batsmen into walking wickets. Oh, and for the sake of cheeky argument about time wasting, I give you Moeen Kahn... :P

  • on August 28, 2010, 9:25 GMT

    Somebody said a few days ago about Amir-Asif pair they can not replace Wasim- Waqar pair. To which I said that the pair W-W is already replaced by the pair A-A. will that friend would like to agree with me now?. But I would also say that Pakistan under Salman Butt is not a winning format. Not to say that Salman is any less a talented member of the team but he certainly lacks experience. we do miss Yunus khan here but then what Yousuf was doing. Couldn't he pass a word of suggestion to the captain?. Of course Yousuf himself has not added anything to his credit as a captain still he has a backing of cricketing experience and perhaps lot more than Butt. If pakistan looses this game (and chances are more ) the blame would go straight away on the Cricket bosses for ignoring younus khan.

  • Ashu123 on August 28, 2010, 8:58 GMT

    u know raj it might happen. ind and pak vs rest of the world for charity in pak

  • boris6491 on August 28, 2010, 8:41 GMT

    A truly remarkable performance, made all the more remarkable by its eventual waste through a spectacular recovery which only serves to undermine the impact and quality of this performance and further underline the frailties of Pakistan cricket. It is so disappointing that Pakistan wasted such an incredible performance and subsequently, a significant opportunity. I really don't believe Pakistan have the mental strength to recover from this. No credit should be taken away from Trott and Broad though, both of whom batted brilliantly against top bowlers. But one cannot help but think how Pakistan could let another miraculous opportunity bite the dust.

  • raj040686 on August 28, 2010, 7:44 GMT

    Just imagine the kind of team we might have had if India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were united!! Sigh.. I day dream way too much..

  • on August 28, 2010, 7:09 GMT

    aamir did a great job.But idont know what was salman butt doing

  • on August 28, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    amir bowled really well as they rattled eng middle order but butt captaincy has let the team down and lose the grip of the match.

  • NagarajaG on August 28, 2010, 4:51 GMT

    Well, Amir's heroics may not have been sufficient to bundle out England, but he has proved that Pakistan bowlers can be a serious threat to any side. If India are to nurture any hopes for 2011 world cup, they have to bring back Rahul Dravid. In the current team, let alone the likes of Virat Kohli / Rohit Sharma / Yuvraj Singh who are guaranteed to fail, even the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina are not likely to perform against such quality pace bowling.

  • on August 28, 2010, 4:36 GMT

    Well aamir is the best thing that has happend to pakistan after wasim and waqar . a true strike bowler. the article has said it that he has the making of a great fast bowler for the future

  • k-shoxx on August 28, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    well done SALMAN ...u broke inzi's record for passive mentalities....infact no one in this world till the end of this world can be so passive & defensive....as u were yesterday.....u dumped amir's heroics...u dumped his struggle..u dumped the chance to tie the series....u guyz dont deserve to win thats all.

  • SDHoneymonster on August 28, 2010, 9:38 GMT

    Pipsonian - it's not a deliberate attempt at time wasting, it just makes him feel comfortable. I was at the match yesterday and thought it would be a problem, but all the overs were gotten in before the cut-off time, and there were 108 to be bowled in the day. He only spends time doing it at the end of the over, and the Pakistani seamers weren't exactly rushing back to their marks and itching to bowl in the final session either. And that absurd rule you propose would limit both play against spin and pace - there should be a balance between bat and ball yes, and it's been too long in favour of the bat, but the way to resolve it is not by making batsmen into walking wickets. Oh, and for the sake of cheeky argument about time wasting, I give you Moeen Kahn... :P

  • on August 28, 2010, 9:25 GMT

    Somebody said a few days ago about Amir-Asif pair they can not replace Wasim- Waqar pair. To which I said that the pair W-W is already replaced by the pair A-A. will that friend would like to agree with me now?. But I would also say that Pakistan under Salman Butt is not a winning format. Not to say that Salman is any less a talented member of the team but he certainly lacks experience. we do miss Yunus khan here but then what Yousuf was doing. Couldn't he pass a word of suggestion to the captain?. Of course Yousuf himself has not added anything to his credit as a captain still he has a backing of cricketing experience and perhaps lot more than Butt. If pakistan looses this game (and chances are more ) the blame would go straight away on the Cricket bosses for ignoring younus khan.

  • Ashu123 on August 28, 2010, 8:58 GMT

    u know raj it might happen. ind and pak vs rest of the world for charity in pak

  • boris6491 on August 28, 2010, 8:41 GMT

    A truly remarkable performance, made all the more remarkable by its eventual waste through a spectacular recovery which only serves to undermine the impact and quality of this performance and further underline the frailties of Pakistan cricket. It is so disappointing that Pakistan wasted such an incredible performance and subsequently, a significant opportunity. I really don't believe Pakistan have the mental strength to recover from this. No credit should be taken away from Trott and Broad though, both of whom batted brilliantly against top bowlers. But one cannot help but think how Pakistan could let another miraculous opportunity bite the dust.

  • raj040686 on August 28, 2010, 7:44 GMT

    Just imagine the kind of team we might have had if India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were united!! Sigh.. I day dream way too much..

  • on August 28, 2010, 7:09 GMT

    aamir did a great job.But idont know what was salman butt doing

  • on August 28, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    amir bowled really well as they rattled eng middle order but butt captaincy has let the team down and lose the grip of the match.

  • NagarajaG on August 28, 2010, 4:51 GMT

    Well, Amir's heroics may not have been sufficient to bundle out England, but he has proved that Pakistan bowlers can be a serious threat to any side. If India are to nurture any hopes for 2011 world cup, they have to bring back Rahul Dravid. In the current team, let alone the likes of Virat Kohli / Rohit Sharma / Yuvraj Singh who are guaranteed to fail, even the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina are not likely to perform against such quality pace bowling.

  • on August 28, 2010, 4:36 GMT

    Well aamir is the best thing that has happend to pakistan after wasim and waqar . a true strike bowler. the article has said it that he has the making of a great fast bowler for the future

  • dmqi on August 28, 2010, 4:24 GMT

    "Butt showed his inexperience by wasting men at thirdman, deep point and deep square-leg. The wilting English hearts suddenly started swelling with hope"- same was told by the commentators, poor field placing. This is the Pakistan's problem, they do not have a good experience captain. So young talents' efforts go in vain. How many times England, Australia or India will give this opportunity to the opponents to go from 97/7 to 300 plus for 8. Salman Butt, you have probably lost the match. You will be lucky to get a draw. Test cricket's captaincy is not for new comer' s experiment, it needs experience and intelligence. Pak selectors, can you remember the name Younus Khan?

  • SRAM20 on August 28, 2010, 2:42 GMT

    Wish India unearth a bowler like Ameer who can sustain for long enough to be a great bowler. Ameer is showing all the signs of being a great in the years to come if he can sustain this show (or even 80% of it)

  • on August 28, 2010, 1:31 GMT

    I feel so bad for amir.... :( His team is the worst team in cricket! As a paki fan i know England are gonna win unless pakistan score 500 plus runs which sound impossible :( England gonna win this match AND Series 3-1! Pakistan cricket is doomed... :'(

  • pipsonian on August 28, 2010, 0:43 GMT

    Lot of people have commented on Pak&Eng performance in this game.Wanted to bring ur attention 2 a point that has been missed by most folks.Am not sure how far this comment will go but Pakistan need to lodge a protest against Jonathan Trott.Him taking guard every ball has really disturbed the rhythm of the bowlers and should be viewed as a time wasting tactic.Secondly, i would like to suggest to ICC that if a bowler is not allowed to let his foot go beyond the front line of the bowling crease, i think we should also restrict the batsmen from standing outside the crease to ensure fair balance between the ball and the bat otherwise we will soon see that the bowlers will have no option but to just feed some juicy full tosses to the batsmen. A batsman should be forced to have at least one foot completely inside the crease.They can jump down the track once the ball is delivered. Word of advice for Asif:He can bowl from behind the bowling crease to allow him to bowl his usual "good length"

  • us_tulip on August 28, 2010, 0:38 GMT

    well well well.. pakistan are an unpredictable side.. whoever could think about such a turnaround after such heroics by amir... but the advantage has now lost and england have a slight advantage over pakistan.. it asks a big deal for them to wiin from hereon

  • Jipster on August 28, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    @thenkabail - that's kinda what i was getting at. Wasim once said that he became the bowler he was (I'm English, so I'm assuming this was true) because Imran Khan told Wasim that to be the best and stay the best he had to work his ass off. Amir has the talent - I really hope he doesn't let it get to his head and become another 'was good while it lasted' like Shoaib. Of course, fitness and injuries could affect his future, but that's why I mentioned about fitness and strength. This guy is 18 - he has potential, not just for Pakistan, but for World cricket. I really hope he does it, but time will tell.

  • on August 28, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    Like someone before me said, he needs to keep his head down, and work hard. He can definitely turn out to be a great bowler if he keeps his work ethic.

  • Taz786 on August 27, 2010, 23:50 GMT

    Either England will now win this Test or it will be a draw. Pakistan had their chance when they had England on 47-5 then 102-7 and blew it big time. Butt need's to learn that when you have a team in these kinds of position you need to finish them off, rather than get off the mat, he'll learn over time, but this has probably cost his team the chance of winning this test.

    At the end of the day's play, when you could see all the Pakistani players shaking the hands of Broad and Trott as they walked off, you could also see a look of resignation that they have already conceded their is no way back in this test.

  • on August 27, 2010, 23:26 GMT

    "Amir, the youngest bowler to get a five-for at Lord's" - just wonder when pakistani players aill start sharing their actual age? another shahid aafridi :P

  • on August 27, 2010, 23:20 GMT

    Wow. This whole series has been so good overall, i just can't explain too much. Perfect advertisement for test cricket; albeit, you have to give credit to the english pitches as well! As for Aamer, we are used to calling new faces the next "legend" (like we called salman butt the next anwar. Hah) but aamer just consistently proves himself. Currently, he's the best bowler for his age and I can safely say that he is better and smarter than wasim was at this age. However, his excellent mindset is continuously being overshadowed by Pakistan's poor batting support. I literally want to fire the whole department and spend 3-4 months out of cricket just to get some new talents. Enough of the same Butt/Farhat crap. Salman butt is still not that bad but i don't stand why and how farhat is STILL in the squad. I really wish Aamer the best of luck. I hope he doesn't get labeled as an underrated player or a overshadowed excellence in the future, i hope he gets the deserved attention!

  • ArtPakistan on August 27, 2010, 22:06 GMT

    Great article Nagrag. Thanks. Dont worry folks, Team Pakistan will prevail.

  • zoh23h on August 27, 2010, 21:57 GMT

    Tommorow is a good sunny day at lords.. if england gets out in 1st hour then pakistan can put up alteast 300 if they bat the whole day..

  • thenkabail on August 27, 2010, 21:46 GMT

    AMIR the next great bowler?: As an Indian, I have nothing but total admiration for Mohammad Amir. It it not wonderful to see such players on International stage when you see mediocrity day in and day out. Amir is just coming in and the way he is bowling is so phenomenol that evryone have to admire. Compare this to someone like Mithun from India- who can hardly get a wicket. I am sure Amir will get wickets in any pitch. But, all modern youngesters have to have good life balance to remain as top bowlers. When you look at number of Indian bowers who were so promising, but ran out of steam in a 2-3 years.........one need to guard against modern day sins and protect health and integrity. The way England fought back also makes test cricket so special and so real.

  • Jipster on August 27, 2010, 21:37 GMT

    There's still a way to go in this test, and I hope it ends up as exciting as the last test at the oval. So hard to believe Amir is only 18 - I really hope he just keeps his head down and continues to work hard at his game, his fitness & his strength, and doesn't let his talent convert to another 'ego' in the Pakistani dressing room that invariably seems to end up with infighting. Also hope he avoids Pakistani cricket board politics - this lad is damn good, but he can be a great like Wasim or Waqar if he just sticks to his game. Anyway, a fascinating days play - nothing will ever come close to test match cricket (if we get pitches like this, not subcontinent pancakes...)

  • pochard on August 27, 2010, 21:31 GMT

    Amir definitely must win the emerging player award; and Chappell & co were wrong: Pak have the best attack in the world with Amir and Asif backed up by Ajmal. Aus or SA could not do to England what Amir & co did early today. Imagine if their fielding was up to snuff.

  • on August 27, 2010, 21:07 GMT

    hats off to amir he is the new akram. hope pakistan doesnt waste his efforts with some senseless batting and fielding but pak had to fight hard to win this test. broad has played arguably an innings of his life and trott was the new wall.

  • on August 27, 2010, 20:54 GMT

    Pakistan's inexperience showed in this match.The bowling attack is still young and they will not always enjoy a smooth ride.Sometime they have to learn the hard way.And Pakistani fans are only compounding the problem by anointing them the best bowling attack in the world.They are a very balanced attack but you cant consider them a finished article.Iam more worried when Amir talks of Pakistan being in the backfoot.Hope they dont take that attitude to the cricket field.

  • 0wais on August 27, 2010, 20:53 GMT

    Poor Amir is very unlucky to be in this pakistan side........... he would have been more devastating if he had played 15-10 yrs ago with wasim akram, waqar younis, inzamam, younis khan, saeed anwar etc!!!!! in this team there is no one to support him even if pakistab bowls out the opposition in quick time our in experienced batsmen spoil the party the likes of afridi & salman butt have become the captains of national team who don't even know how to lead a team

  • sharprider on August 27, 2010, 20:41 GMT

    A truly absorbing day's cricket for the more serious followers of the game, but, in the end, it was Salman & Co. who had to scratch their heads as to what went wrong after the Englishmen were down, although not out, very early on. It is strange enough to see a favorable situation being turned into one of concern for the visitors even though they are being led by a relatively inexperienced Captain, but that's the way Pakistan has been lately. They have this tendency of slacking off just when there is an opportunity to "go for the kill" and tighten the screws on the opposition. This is where Waqar's experience should have come in handy, but, unfortunately, it did not. Well, now he has to rethink his strategies without demoralising the players as it is very important to maintain the confidence level as well as focus of the team in pursuing a safe course in view of the present situation.

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  • sharprider on August 27, 2010, 20:41 GMT

    A truly absorbing day's cricket for the more serious followers of the game, but, in the end, it was Salman & Co. who had to scratch their heads as to what went wrong after the Englishmen were down, although not out, very early on. It is strange enough to see a favorable situation being turned into one of concern for the visitors even though they are being led by a relatively inexperienced Captain, but that's the way Pakistan has been lately. They have this tendency of slacking off just when there is an opportunity to "go for the kill" and tighten the screws on the opposition. This is where Waqar's experience should have come in handy, but, unfortunately, it did not. Well, now he has to rethink his strategies without demoralising the players as it is very important to maintain the confidence level as well as focus of the team in pursuing a safe course in view of the present situation.

  • 0wais on August 27, 2010, 20:53 GMT

    Poor Amir is very unlucky to be in this pakistan side........... he would have been more devastating if he had played 15-10 yrs ago with wasim akram, waqar younis, inzamam, younis khan, saeed anwar etc!!!!! in this team there is no one to support him even if pakistab bowls out the opposition in quick time our in experienced batsmen spoil the party the likes of afridi & salman butt have become the captains of national team who don't even know how to lead a team

  • on August 27, 2010, 20:54 GMT

    Pakistan's inexperience showed in this match.The bowling attack is still young and they will not always enjoy a smooth ride.Sometime they have to learn the hard way.And Pakistani fans are only compounding the problem by anointing them the best bowling attack in the world.They are a very balanced attack but you cant consider them a finished article.Iam more worried when Amir talks of Pakistan being in the backfoot.Hope they dont take that attitude to the cricket field.

  • on August 27, 2010, 21:07 GMT

    hats off to amir he is the new akram. hope pakistan doesnt waste his efforts with some senseless batting and fielding but pak had to fight hard to win this test. broad has played arguably an innings of his life and trott was the new wall.

  • pochard on August 27, 2010, 21:31 GMT

    Amir definitely must win the emerging player award; and Chappell & co were wrong: Pak have the best attack in the world with Amir and Asif backed up by Ajmal. Aus or SA could not do to England what Amir & co did early today. Imagine if their fielding was up to snuff.

  • Jipster on August 27, 2010, 21:37 GMT

    There's still a way to go in this test, and I hope it ends up as exciting as the last test at the oval. So hard to believe Amir is only 18 - I really hope he just keeps his head down and continues to work hard at his game, his fitness & his strength, and doesn't let his talent convert to another 'ego' in the Pakistani dressing room that invariably seems to end up with infighting. Also hope he avoids Pakistani cricket board politics - this lad is damn good, but he can be a great like Wasim or Waqar if he just sticks to his game. Anyway, a fascinating days play - nothing will ever come close to test match cricket (if we get pitches like this, not subcontinent pancakes...)

  • thenkabail on August 27, 2010, 21:46 GMT

    AMIR the next great bowler?: As an Indian, I have nothing but total admiration for Mohammad Amir. It it not wonderful to see such players on International stage when you see mediocrity day in and day out. Amir is just coming in and the way he is bowling is so phenomenol that evryone have to admire. Compare this to someone like Mithun from India- who can hardly get a wicket. I am sure Amir will get wickets in any pitch. But, all modern youngesters have to have good life balance to remain as top bowlers. When you look at number of Indian bowers who were so promising, but ran out of steam in a 2-3 years.........one need to guard against modern day sins and protect health and integrity. The way England fought back also makes test cricket so special and so real.

  • zoh23h on August 27, 2010, 21:57 GMT

    Tommorow is a good sunny day at lords.. if england gets out in 1st hour then pakistan can put up alteast 300 if they bat the whole day..

  • ArtPakistan on August 27, 2010, 22:06 GMT

    Great article Nagrag. Thanks. Dont worry folks, Team Pakistan will prevail.

  • on August 27, 2010, 23:20 GMT

    Wow. This whole series has been so good overall, i just can't explain too much. Perfect advertisement for test cricket; albeit, you have to give credit to the english pitches as well! As for Aamer, we are used to calling new faces the next "legend" (like we called salman butt the next anwar. Hah) but aamer just consistently proves himself. Currently, he's the best bowler for his age and I can safely say that he is better and smarter than wasim was at this age. However, his excellent mindset is continuously being overshadowed by Pakistan's poor batting support. I literally want to fire the whole department and spend 3-4 months out of cricket just to get some new talents. Enough of the same Butt/Farhat crap. Salman butt is still not that bad but i don't stand why and how farhat is STILL in the squad. I really wish Aamer the best of luck. I hope he doesn't get labeled as an underrated player or a overshadowed excellence in the future, i hope he gets the deserved attention!