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September 14, 2009
Mudassar Nazar, the former Pakistan batsman, has called Mohammad Aamer a diamond of Pakistan cricket while revealing how three stress fractures of the back almost derailed his career even before it started. Aamer, the teenage left-arm fast bowler who impressed in the ICC World Twenty20 in England and on the tour of Sri Lanka, was a student at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore, where Nazar served as director till last November.
Nazar said he spotted Aamer as a 14-year-old at an academy in Rawalpindi and was instantly impressed with his abilities as a quick bowler. He summoned Aamer to the NCA where he developed his talent before heading to England with the Under-19 squad in 2007. He bowled nearly 70 overs and took six wickets in the two unofficial Tests. But Aamer had to return early due to a back injury and it later came to light that it was far more serious than anyone had imagined.
"When we analysed Aamer at the NCA upon his return to Pakistan, it came to light that he was suffering from three stress fractures to his back," Nazar told Pakpassion.net. "Two of the fractures had been present since the age of 11 or 12, and the third was suffered in England on the U-19 tour.
"The earlier fractures were probably as a result of playing cricket at a young age, perhaps street cricket or tape ball cricket and Aamer was probably not even aware of the fact that he was suffering from the fractures. The third fracture was as a result of being overbowled on the Under 19 tour of England, when Imad Wasim was his skipper. To be fair to Imad, he had no idea of the injury and he was just a very young lad himself given the job of being skipper."
More damaging than being overbowled, Nazar said, was the fact that the Pakistan Cricket Board didn't take enough precautions to protect its players from injury.
"There was no physio with the U-19 squad that went to England, which was a huge mistake by the PCB and Aamer's career could have been ended before it even started due to this oversight by the PCB," Nazar said. "Aamer came back to Pakistan after the tour and was complaining of stiffness. When he was examined, the stress fractures came to light. Aamer lost one year of his development due to the back injury and it took a lot of hard work on his part and from NCA staff to get him fit again."
He added that Aamer's suffered another jolt when he was sent to Malaysia for the U-19 World Cup last year when he wasn't fully fit. Aamer's first-class career really took off in his debut season, where he took 55 wickets for National Bank of Pakistan.
"I also recall when he was selected for the U-19 World Cup, I told the selectors not to send him and to instead let us work with him at the academy," Nazar said. "However my instructions were ignored and luckily in my opinion Aamer came back early from that tour due to a fever."
Nazar added that himself and other coaches have been very impressed with Aamer's attitude.
"On that tour of England, Bob Willis (former England fast bowler) said that he could see something special in Mohammad Aamer and that he was a very fine prospect," Nazar said. "A lot of the media and former cricketers could see that Aamer was by far the best bowler on either side and he already knew the ropes regarding pace bowling. He has always had the knack of digesting information from coaches and from what I have seen he is a very quick learner."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Stats highlights from the first day of the second Test between Australia and India in Brisbane