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'Everyone gets a second chance and I want it too'

Mohammad Amir wants to start over on a clean slate and can't wait to return to international cricket

Umar Farooq

November 25, 2012

Comments: 43 | Text size: A | A

Mohammad Amir at his home in Lahore
Mohammad Amir: "I am taking my comeback to be similar to when I was 13 and used to think about playing for Pakistan. The difference this time is that I have had the international experience" Umar Farooq / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

"If [Marlon] Samuels can make it then there is no reason why I can't make it," said Mohammad Amir, 20, and three years away from completing his ban for his involvement in the spot-fixing scandal in 2010.

Every day since the ban was imposed has been a "regrettable" one for him. Since returning to Pakistan after serving half of his six-month sentence at the Portland Young Offenders Institution in Dorset, Amir has limited his social life and prefers the company of only close friends and family.

It took me nearly a month to get him to agree to this interview because he isn't keen to go over the details of what happened that day at Lord's two years ago. No longer obsessed with a troubled past, Amir seems wiser, more mature, and is keenly looking forward to the day he returns to international cricket.

"I want to come back with my head held high, with a new spirit and as a role model," he said. "I accepted everything and pleaded guilty only to give myself peace.

"I know there were things that shouldn't have happened, but I can't change my past. It is obviously tough staying away from cricket; I am coping with hell at the moment and nobody can understand how difficult it is to live away from cricket. I made a mistake and paid the price for it, but everyone gets a second chance and I want it too."

It's ironic that Amir's cricket career started out with friendly bets, when he challenged renowned tennis-ball batsmen from Lahore and Rawalpindi to hit him for a six in one over and win a meal at any big restaurant in Islamabad. He bowled six dot balls.

"[The batsman's] shoelaces came undone when I bowled him a yorker," Amir said. "Several people, including Sohail Tanvir were there to see it. It was that contest that took me towards Rawalpindi. It took nearly four to five years to be selected in the national team."

Amir said the biggest lesson the scandal has taught him is to be cautious when making friends. "I am cautious about trusting people. Just because a person appears to be nice doesn't mean he is a good friend. He is obviously not if he pulls you down when he sinks himself."

Amir has joined a gym and intends to start bowling at a ground near his home. "I know my physical condition isn't rusty at all," he said when we talk in his posh bungalow at the Defence Housing Authority in Lahore. "I still run with a proper rhythm and bowl within line and length. The basics of bowling will remain the same, so I am not worried at all. I am committed to my return."

While he spends time out of cricket, he watches the game. He even spent time in a TV studio as an analyst during the World Twenty20. "It was a good experience, to be live on TV and talking and analysing cricket," he said. "Learning the game by playing is a real experience, but analysing the game while watching on TV enhances your ability to read and interpret the game. Things that I might not be able to contemplate while on the field, I was able to understand while I watched it."

"The number of people who want me to play again is much greater than the people who don't want me to play. While I was in prison, I received letters and encouragement from well-wishers in Pakistan and England"

His cricket education may be progressing but Amir is mindful of what Justice Cooke, who presided over the spot-fixing trial, said about him being "unsophisticated, uneducated and impressionable". "I agree that education is very important," Amir said. "I passed my matriculation and intended to go further, but then I began to concentrate only on my cricket. A lot of people still ask me to continue my studies. It's not easy at the moment but the idea is in my head."

He prays for patience and persistence and closes his mind to doubt. "My dream, for which I had left my village years back, is still not complete. It paused, so I will start over. One never knows what is in store for the future. We can only plan, and I am taking my comeback to be similar to when I was 13 and used to think about playing for Pakistan. The difference this time is that I have had the international experience. There are people who are making their debuts at 30-plus these days, so I still have plenty of time.

"I think to earn a great reputation, one should stick to his goal and shouldn't be distracted. Everyone is with you during your good times, but we need a good friend more desperately in bad times, when nobody is at your side. There are situations in everyone's life when one has to decide quickly about what to do. Choose the right way and forget about what will happen next because eventually it won't be as bad as if you chose the wrong way."

With his newly developed analyst's eye, Amir said Pakistan are desperately missing a new-ball bowler. He also has a point to make about the way the local media report on the game. "They don't report facts. If any team is better than Pakistan, they should tell the public the difference and be blunt in saying that our team isn't good enough or that our chances are bleak. But before every tournament, it is assumed that Pakistan will win it.

"People here are emotional about the game. They neglect the basic facts and overestimate every newcomer, imagining him to be the new Wasim [Akram] or Waqar [Younis]. When I was playing, the media started comparing me to Wasim Akram, which is a wrong perception. I would like to be known as Mohammad Amir. He [Akram] was a legendary bowler but I am another name and another bowler. I want to build my name."

Unlike with Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, Amir's return is eagerly anticipated. "The number of people who want me to play again is much greater than the people who don't want me to play," he said. "While I was in prison, I received letters and encouragement from well-wishers in Pakistan and England. It's my family's support and the love of the fans that have motivated me to play again; otherwise there was a time when I had nearly decided not to come back to cricket."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 6:24 GMT)

He is Awesome and a player who touches the ground with glory for the nation. He has committed a wrong and brought disgrace to the country and him self but imagine how many mistakes one commits at age of 18... He definately deserves a second as every body does... Bowlers like him born once a decade..

Amir must also honestly learn something of this punishment... Come on Amir and bring the glory back .....

Posted by sherishahmir on (November 28, 2012, 5:20 GMT)

Amir already had much punishment for the sin he committed though he was also a immature and very young at that time and now is thoroughly deserved to be given a new lifeline to build his cricket career again. Hope Amir punishment will also serve an example to all new cricketers before doing any wrongdoing too.

Posted by   on (November 27, 2012, 14:36 GMT)

i think pakistan will desperately miss him on the tour to south africa. with the current form of saeed ajmal combined with the fast swing bowling of muhammad amir i think pakistan could have destroyed south africa. now i see south africa doing that to pakistan

Posted by Desihungama on (November 26, 2012, 23:42 GMT)

If ICC is looking to eradicate the menace Amir is the boat they need to ride on. I doubt he'll be reinstated before WC2015. He will though make a comeback to the team as the guy possesses sheer talent and will be Ok after a season.

Posted by SantoshGhirnikar on (November 26, 2012, 20:21 GMT)

This kid deserves a second chance. At 18 all of us were naive, immature and in some cases downright stupid. I have seen clips of his incredible bowling on Youtube and it will be an absolute travesty if we don't give him a second chance. Bowlers of his calibre don't come around often. BTW, I am an Indian fan and I wish he was playing for India.

Posted by   on (November 26, 2012, 17:54 GMT)

@Matt, I agree completely with you...guys around with that teenager age often commits lot of mistakes and this is natural. What inspires me most is that he realized and learnt from his mistakes and promised not only infront of the media but with the nation that he won't repeat this mistake again ever .

Posted by   on (November 26, 2012, 16:57 GMT)

Mohammad Amir has learnt his lesson the hard way. He was young and probably genuinely did not understand the implication of his participation in the infamous No Ball fixing affair. I attended the Court hearing for three days but on the judgement day could not get in because of overcrowding. When he was found guilty and taken to the Police Van hustled by some angry Pakistanis I felt sorry for him and angry too. All three of them brought shame to Pakistan and disrepute to the wonderful game of cricket. Salman Butt off all three was the nervous one. You could see the guilt all over him. I have no sympathy for him. Now he appears in different TV shows and that is disgrace. He complains about the Jury is wrong. He knows Jury is selected from the members of public and scrutinised for their character and work in life. Their Job is not to know the technicality but simply what a no ball is and its illegal status. ICC should reduce his sentence as much as they can.

Posted by Ahsan-cric-freak on (November 26, 2012, 13:42 GMT)

All have different views... i think Amir must not be allowed to resume international cricket until he serves his 5 year ban no matter how much regret he reveals and what maturity he have earned, a punishment must completed! but it is important that he should be allowed to play domestic cricket until he completes his banned period. for sure he is the greatest talent in the recent times produced and we must take every measure to preserve this special talent until he resumes his internal career...

Posted by   on (November 26, 2012, 10:08 GMT)

He must be given second chance, just for sake of cricket...otherwise this extreme talent will be wasted.... ICC please think again

Posted by   on (November 26, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

cricket needs him, no other bowler looks as dangerous as he did in all conditions! what a bowler!

Posted by   on (November 26, 2012, 7:19 GMT)

He deserve 2nd chance..... He is a Human being not an angel... and everyone commit mistakes in life.....

Posted by WishIndiaImprove on (November 26, 2012, 0:12 GMT)

He was kid at that time and he paid the price too. It is our job to give him support. He will be one of the best in the world. Come on Amir..... We are ready to welcome you

Posted by   on (November 26, 2012, 0:00 GMT)

He's a kid, he made a mistake. I have a degree of sympathy with the ban for life brigade, because any form of tampering with the integrity of a game brings into question the viability of our sport, and it's vitally important that it's stamped out. I also appreciate that he protested his innocence until realising the game was properly up but you know, at his age, I'd probably have done the same. Yes 18 is old enough to vote, drive, marry etc, but there's a world of difference in the self confidence of an 18 year old boy as opposed to a 30 year old man. He deserves a second chance, and not just because he's a special bowler.

Posted by pak78 on (November 25, 2012, 22:49 GMT)

you broke the hearts of millions of pak fans and cricketing fans around the world though fans are eagerly waiting for your come back and u sure deserve a second chance.

Posted by Chris_P on (November 25, 2012, 22:42 GMT)

Sorry sunshine. You should have thought about this before corrupting our great game. You have inflicted great disgrace to your team mates, country & our game. It's actions like this that have stained our game. Go & live your regrets to yourself.

Posted by SCC08 on (November 25, 2012, 22:09 GMT)

@Kiwirocker - agree on your stance towards cheating but let's not forget that different cultures exist amongst the Test playing natures. Different up bringings and complete different livelyhoods.. This kid could have been the sole bread winner in his family?? He was 18 years old and instructed by his Captain, he made a wrong call and has a more than sufficient punishment. As for the other 2 involved, different story, put them in jail, they knew better and were senior members in the side. I say it again, this kid was just 18.......

Posted by binojpeter on (November 25, 2012, 21:57 GMT)

I am an Indian fan but I love the bowling of Amir and Asif. At the same time, we have to root out the problem of matchfixing from the game somehow. Otherwise it is unfair to us cricket fans. But I am totally okay with giving both of them a second chance if they resolve not to do it again.

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 21:28 GMT)

He is going to be fine :)

the boy has learnt his lesson and is ready to come back a man. I would not be surprised if this ban was overturned earlier than expected. We could see Amir in Pakistan colours by the time he is 23.

Posted by OptimusPrimal on (November 25, 2012, 20:09 GMT)

Oh for God's sake give the guy a break. He's been through hell and back. ICC should let him play when he has completed more than half of his ban.

Posted by Baundele on (November 25, 2012, 19:15 GMT)

Many people also get a third chance. Do not worry, Amir. Best of luck.

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 17:50 GMT)

the thing is, he is totally banned from playing cricket in that time - not even a club side, so don't expect him to come back from a 5 year break with the skills he had before it.

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 17:04 GMT)

I want to see Muhammad Amir back in team love to watch this talent very rare exists such bowlers in WorldCricket

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 16:30 GMT)

Well mates I m happy that still people have soft corner for the young boy, He is really the future of cricket.........Now he should be given a fair he helped a lot for anti corruption efforts of Icc. Good Luck Aamir We are waiting for your come back.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (November 25, 2012, 14:56 GMT)

There have been few occasions in sports as a whole, of an athelete coming back after 5 years totally out of the sport and performing as they previously did. the problem is that even after 5 years hes going to need 1-2 seasons to get back into the groove of bowling, and other bowlers will have established hem selves or be a head of him in the pecking order so he will be fighting an up hill battle to get into international cricket. Add on that the first time he bowls a no-ball rumours will start.

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 14:33 GMT)

wishes from Sri Lanka, you are too good to be kept away. :)

Posted by ajayrcs on (November 25, 2012, 14:23 GMT)

Yeah he should get another chance. He is best bowler after Mcgrath For me.

Posted by pucitian on (November 25, 2012, 13:25 GMT)

@Ali Akbar, yes mate. I think the day we accept that we have a problem and we need to rectify it, we will become a much stronger team and nation!! These cricketers are professionals and get paid for what they do, So there is no a way in the world not to be strict on them. I am sorry but even after Aamir gets his punishment , I would not select a person with such a history period. You get the chance to represent your country and earn a decent earning through sponsors, ads etc etc and then u come up with the excuse of the age... They should be given the chance to play in domestic cricket as they need to earn a living for themselves but dont bring such guys in national team...

Posted by shillingsworth on (November 25, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

Tired of his pathetic pleas for sympathy. What about all the honest players who were given one chance to make the grade at first class and test level? Don't they deserve a second chance? How about the fact that he persistently lied to the ICC Tribunal and only owned up to save himself from a longer prison sentence? Everyone deserves a second chance in life but that doesn't mean that professional cricket has to give him that chance. He is free to find redemption elsewhere and should take the opportunity.

Posted by Raman.Raman.m on (November 25, 2012, 13:06 GMT)

Great bowler. Would like to see him back on the field again.

Posted by Baber_Baloch on (November 25, 2012, 12:25 GMT)

must there should be secong chance for ,,Aamir ,,he is from PAK if he belong too Eng,Aust or India ,,he already be in team...ICC rules just for few country.

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 10:14 GMT)

I fully agree with Muhammad Hanif Shah we must send message to all young cricketers across cricket playing nations that nobody is greater than discipline of the game and pride of nation you represent. Playing for your country is much more than earning money only, it is matter of honour & pride for being sport ambassador of country. We must set an example, he should not be allowed at all for life time.

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 9:09 GMT)

Me too eagerly waiting for his comeback !!!

Posted by 5string on (November 25, 2012, 8:59 GMT)

He's admitted and paid for his mistake, and no doubt will continue to pay by receiving comments throughout his career about it. BUT, he's repentant and is a fine young player, so he should be given the chance to make up for it and rekindle his career - it's what he does, so let him do it. Cricket would be sending the message that discipline is important, but so is forgiveness.

Posted by Shrekk on (November 25, 2012, 8:13 GMT)

Another chance after the punishment is fair but only after you've admitted to your guilt openly...not in euphemisms or through dumping it on your partners..

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 7:50 GMT)

I don't really know but one should make him an example by not making him play. This will send a strong signal to the youth all across the world that one cannot get away with this kind of stuff.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (November 25, 2012, 7:20 GMT)

I am waiting for the return of Amir. It's really harsh to give 5 year penalty to a 17 years old kid for only bowling no balls. Come on ICC give him second chance. I still think Amir can easily play for 10 years even after his return in 2015. We have great hopes from Amir keep it up.

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 7:17 GMT)

@dilnaz.. if thats the case.. then there would have been no cricket... Its not just amir. its not pakistan.. u know.. its the whole cricketing world!

i second the opinion of Tsubomi ... and i think Amir should be called back very soon! i dont agree with any of KiwiRocker comments. Its like he is a saint and has never done anything wrong in his life.

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 6:50 GMT)

He has committed a mistake, everyone does, so it doesn't mean that we should kill him.

Posted by Alexk400 on (November 25, 2012, 5:23 GMT)

He needs to server full sentence. No free ride. Never..That will be bad example. Once you escape you will continue to do same thing. This time you hide it cleverly. I want him to play only after his full punishment over. No pity from me.

Posted by SanatAttavar on (November 25, 2012, 4:49 GMT)

It's good that he has realized his mistake and is willing to make the necessary changes to get back to playing - which is being repentant of what he did and willing to talk about it to youngsters so that they don't succumb in similar circumstances. As you'd all say Insha'Allah - you will play. Prayer helps like nothing else does, so the best thing for Mohammad Amir to do is keep praying and playing and the rest shall be taken care off. Him demanding that he deserves a second chance as everyone gets one, is wrong. GOD shall decide that.

Posted by dilanz51 on (November 25, 2012, 3:49 GMT)

Amir please dont come back. The games cleaner without guys like you. Match fixers dont get get a second chance.

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 3:43 GMT)

I agree that everyone should be given a second chance. Mohamed you are a specila talent and I look forward to seeing you perform once again on the field. Be patient and your time will come again soon.

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 3:42 GMT)

I hope you maintain the same form though the future may have new talent, your comeback will be miracle.

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