Pakistan cricket

'Mental peace' is Amir's priority says mentor

Asif Bajwa has a plan in place to get Mohammad Amir through his rehabilitation and ready for cricket again

Umar Farooq

March 22, 2012

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

Asif Bajwa, Mohammad Amir's mentor, talks on the phone, Islamabad, November 3, 2011
Asif Bajwa, Mohammad Amir's mentor © Associated Press
Enlarge

Asif Bajwa, the mentor of Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir, can see no flaw in his education of the player who fell foul of spot-fixing, but he regrets not giving Amir all the exposure needed to evade corruption traps.

Amir has praised Bajwa, his schoolteacher and cricket coach from the age of 11, for standing by him after he was jailed on corruption charges, and Bajwa is now determined to oversee an educational rehabilitation programme in which his immediate target is to give Amir much-needed "mental peace".

His young protégé's involvement in spot-fixing saddens Bajwa, who gave Amir free schooling, cricket coaching and board in his own home from the age of 11 during a time when he was largely separated from his family.

"What I taught him was to stay away from bad company and avoid indulging himself using drugs but frankly speaking we never talked on fixing stuff," Bajwa told ESPNcricinfo. "Because I have created a very clean culture around all of the kids, we never had discussed fixing. Maybe it is because I myself didn't have enough exposure about the ugly part of the world and I feel regret sometimes that I missed that particular thing in his development."

Amir came from a humble background. He was the sixth of seven children growing up in Changa Bangyaal, a minor village surrounded by dusty cornfields, in the district of Gujar Khan near Rawalpindi. His love for cricket was intrinsic, and while his elder brothers began to work, he was more likely to be found playing cricket or scampering around the streets. Then the captain of his tape-ball team took him to a tournament in Rawalpindi and Bajwa, who happened to see him, offered him the chance to move to Rawalpindi.

Bajwa's school is a simple one, a private school for children of Pakistan's middle class, with limited facilities and low fees. Amir was not a particularly successful student but he was a good cricketer, a quality that was much in his favour. Contact with his family during his teenage years was rare.

"He was similar to many kids I have in my school but with good learning skills," Bajwa said. "At such an age nobody can predict how big a cricketer he can be, but he definitely was good at his age."

Amir, who will turn 20 in April, did his matriculation from Rawalpindi. He registered twice for the intermediate examination but sporting success intervened. "He has never indicated since he became a famous cricketer that studies are no more important," Bawja said. "Somewhere in his mind he has set a goal to at least do a graduation at some point."

As well as his school, Bajwa owns a hostel and a cricket club, a good platform for the development of a cricketer. There is no hard and fast rule to apply for Bajwa's facilities. You have to be lucky, as Amir was. The cricketing relation between Bajwa and Amir was to further thicken with the passage of time.

A man who is often overlooked in Amir's cricketing development was the Rawalpindi coach, Sabhi Azhar, who described him as a "horse for a big race". Amir was brought from his village in 2003. Four years later, he was selected for Pakistan U-19s. From the age of 11, Bajwa said he took responsibility for Amir's upbringing, paying for Amir's upkeep and development. Bajwa has four children but he remains committed to helping and supporting abandoned kids with the help of education and cricket.

"There was no particular reason to bring Amir in my premises," he said. "It was just my affection for the children. Amir is not the only kid playing cricket at the top level." Two other first-class cricketers, Yasim Murtaza and Rizwan Akbar, were also under Bajwa's umbrella.

Amir retains respect for Bajwa and gives him credit for playing a huge role in his life. "He has been both my teacher and my mentor," Amir said. "And with Allah's grace he will always remain so. I respect him and always will for playing a huge role in my life. I will never forget this and even now in this difficult period when lots of people desert you, he has continued to support me from the first day until now in exactly the same way as before."

Despite Amir's prison sentence and career-threatening, five-year ban from the ICC, his mentor believes he can return to international cricket. Bajwa is once again ready to take up Amir's development. The plans are in place.

"It's not Amir but also me who has learnt the lesson and now nothing will go wrong," Bajwa said. "Everything is well planned. Three things I am focusing on: to give his mind peace, revive his physical fitness and groom his personality."

Bajwa has installed nets for Amir on the roof of his house in Rawalpindi, an attempt to motivate him. "It is to create a cricketing culture around him. He for a while was discouraged when in England, maybe because nobody of his own was around him. He was helpless and mentally demolished. What is required is to bring his confidence back. So I am trying to motivate him and trying to cover up the gap between him and cricket."

Amir was jailed for six months after pleading guilty at Southwark Crown Court last year to conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat at gambling after a plot was uncovered in a sting operation arranged by the now defunct UK Sunday tabloid, the News Of the World.

Amir pleaded guilty of bowling deliberate no-balls in a Test against England in 2010 but insisted that he was tricked into spot-fixing and he was not aware about Mazhar Majeed's behind-the-scene plotting. His story is one of entrapment.

Bajwa is adamant that it is time to look to the future. "A mistake obviously was made by him but he suffered more than enough," he said. "It's useless to curse the past. The positive aspect is he is still young and has a bright future to pursue. This setback to his career can help him become a more refined cricketer. He is still passionate about the game and in good spirits. Ultimately he has to play cricket. That is the only option left for him."

Edited by David Hopps

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

RSS Feeds: Umar Farooq

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (March 24, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

@ khabboo & adnan_rifat84 :-- Also the so called great Mohd.Amir. had a first class average of 21.48. These boys Sadaf and Rahat have better bowling averages in the fist class games than Amir, then what makes you think that they cannot bowl in the tests? How can you dismiss these boys without testing them? Just imagine, if Amir would not have been tested in the international level you would not know how good he is. Similarly, if someone has a better average than Amir then they should be tested at the highest level before rejecting them. I am sure if they are given the opportunity they will surely grasp the opportunity with both their hands and win many games for Pakistan. All that i want is a fair selection process and better result for the Pakistan team. People think that now Pakistan has stopped producing good fast bowlers. I am saying that they are wrong, because pakistan has even better fast bowlers, only they are being delayed, jiust like Sarfraz was delayed after Salman & Adnan.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (March 24, 2012, 9:52 GMT)

@ adnan_rifat84 on (March 23 2012, 11:19 AM GMT) :- you have quoted some names like Wahab Riaz, Tall pacer Muhammad Irfan, & Sohail Khan. It looks like you have some problem with giving opportunities to new younsters. All countries try out younsters and find out who is good and bad. Anyway, are you satisfied with the two match chance given to M.Irfan in England. He was flown in urgently with no match practice and no chance of acclamatisation. He did not bowl badly. The only thing is that in both the games he got cramps and could not complete his quota of 10 overs. Regarding W.Riaz i always found him to be very eratic. Now that we have realised that he is so eratic, we should stop discussing him and move on, till we find a pair of good fast bowlers. Whats wrong in that ?

Posted by MesamChohan on (March 24, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

A life cannot be discarded because of one bad decision. Amir has served his sentence and once he has served out his ban he should be free to return to cricket in all forms. I was apprehensive about his potential return and rehabilitation once back in Pakistan being only for show. However Amir is very lucky to have a mentor like Asif Bajwa who he trusts as he was there before all the fame and money and hangers on. Sport emulates life and we face obstacles and set backs throughout our lives and careers. It's is easy to give up and easy to kick someone when they are down. We fall so that we may learn to pick ourselves up. Asif Bajwa is the ideal person to get through this hugely important period of Amir's life. Tiger Woods has fallen from grace but I for one look forward to him overcoming his demons and getting back to basics and rediscovering what made him great. Alas tigers father is not here anymore. Pakistan needs more Asif Bajwa's. I have huge admiration for him and wish them success

Posted by   on (March 23, 2012, 13:29 GMT)

i m a simple boy, meanz i have never attend any club, for training, but still i understand i can bowl more better than sadaf ar rahat ali, cricket need telent, and there r no talent in sadaf,,, sadaf, cheema, irfan, they r wasting thier time ,,, Its true Amir is cheater, but no doubt he is a wonderfol bowler, Sports4youth u r totally wrong that sadaf is good bowler than amir, i think u r relative of sadaf, i observing u saying more abt sadaf

Posted by   on (March 23, 2012, 13:26 GMT)

mohammad talha has got more talent den anyone on domestic circuit he impressed when played against english eleven in UAE and he shud get chance .For Gul i will say he has played too much he is senior pro still inconsistent a very good 20 20 player but average test and below average one day bowler .Cheema is still new and he shud have a go for few more series .Mohammad Sami was impressive in BPL and domestic circuit he shud be given one last chance may be he can serve Pakistan till the return of Mohammad Aamir .Spin bowling is world class and no need to be discussed.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (March 23, 2012, 12:50 GMT)

@ adnan_rifat84 on (March 23 2012, 11:19 AM GMT) :- you have quoted some names like Wahab Riaz, Tall pacer Muhammad Irfan, & Sohail Khan. It looks like you have some problem with giving opportunities to new younsters. All countries try out younsters and find out who is good and bad. Anyway, are you satisfied with the two match chance given to M.Irfan in England. He was flown in urgently with no match practice and no chance of acclamatisation. He did not bowl badly. The only thing is that in both the games he got cramps and could not complete his quota of 10 overs. Regarding W.Riaz i always found him to be very eratic. Now that we have realised that he is so eratic, we should stop discussing him and move on, till we find a pair of good fast bowlers. Whats wrong in that ?

Posted by Sports4Youth on (March 23, 2012, 12:28 GMT)

@ khabboo & adnan_rifat84 :-- Also the so called great Mohd.Amir. had a first class average of 21.48. These boys Sadaf and Rahat have better bowling averages in the fist class games than Amir, then what makes you think that they cannot bowl in the tests? How can you dismiss these boys without testing them? Just imagine, if Amir would not have been tested in the international level you would not know how good he is. Similarly, if someone has a better average than Amir then they should be tested at the highest level before rejecting them. I am sure if they are given the opportunity they will surely grasp the opportunity with both their hands and win many games for Pakistan. All that i want is a fair selection process and better result for the Pakistan team. People think that now Pakistan has stopped producing good fast bowlers. I am saying that they are wrong, because pakistan has even better fast bowlers, only they are being delayed, jiust like Sarfraz was delayed after Salman & Adnan.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (March 23, 2012, 12:17 GMT)

@ khabboo :- You say playing international games is different from playing first class games. But who has disputed that ? What i am saying is that even in the first class level U.Gul has a bowling average of 27.94 , eco - 3.42, and his test average is 32.47. Now what makes you think that with an avg of almost 28 in fc, Gul should be a better bowler than Sadaf (avg - 18.27), and Rahat (avg 19.37). After all don't they play the same first class competition. If in the same competetion Sadaf and Rahat produce an average almost better by 10 runs, what makes you think they will not be good in the test matches ?. Before rejecting them, you should first check them. Secondly i am not an agent of anyone. Regarding Amir, I dont think he is innocent. Now he says he was also in contact with a 2nd fixer, Ali. But with these horrible stats of Umar Gul and also in the recent thrashing in England series, if you support Gul, it gives an impression that you are an agent of Gul.

Posted by khabboo on (March 23, 2012, 11:41 GMT)

@sports4youth. Are you an agent for Rahat ali and Sadaf hussain. You seem to mention them in every post. Pakistan is doing fine in bowling but mailny due to spinners. Gul and any other opening fast bowler are struggling. Amir should and is being punished, but it doesn't mean that others are better than him. Playing international level is a lot different to 1st class.

Posted by adnan_rifat84 on (March 23, 2012, 11:29 GMT)

@ZakSink & Sports4Youth: Aizaz Cheema have no pace no good line or length bowling attack, He is just normal bowler who just click once in 4 or 5 matches, while Amir was giving performance in every match, Our fast bowling attack is the most weakest in this world now, there is lot pressure on Ajmal and Umar Gul now, we need some bowler who can swing the bowl in both sides, who else then Amir? I have seen Sadaf Hussain on video his bowling is just like a normal bowler, people were talking about Anwar Ali but when he come on international level he failed to give his performance, our domestic boys are not mentally strong for international cricket very less have the ability like Amir, Junior Wasim Akram what more you want to see in a youngster, I am really disappointed to see that many Pakistani on cricinfo not want to see Amir back, and all those who don't want to see Amir back i know they have the habit of pulling legs, people like you can not give your hand if some body fell down.

Comments have now been closed for this article

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Umar FarooqClose
Country Fixtures Country Results
1st Test: Australia v Pakistan at Dubai (DSC) - Oct 22-26
Pakistan 454 & 197/1 Australia 303
Group II: Wolves v Habib Bank at Faisalabad - Oct 24-27
Habib Bank 240/6
Leopards v National Bnk at Islamabad
Oct 24-27, 2014 (10:00 local | 05:00 GMT | 01:00 EDT | 00:00 CDT | 22:00 PDT)
K Dolphins v ZTBL at Karachi - Oct 24-27
K Dolphins 222 ZTBL 50/4
Group I: Zebras v Khan RL at Karachi - Oct 24-27
Zebras 83 Khan RL 154/3
Group I: L Eagles v PIA at Lahore - Oct 24-27
L Eagles 203/7
Lahore Lions v Sui Gas at Lahore - Oct 24-27
Lahore Lions 232
Tigers v WAPDA at Multan - Oct 24-27
WAPDA 185 Tigers 6/0
P Panthers v United Bank at Peshawar - Oct 24-27
P Panthers 98 United Bank 64/1
Group I: Quetta Bears v Pakistan TV at Islamabad
Oct 24-27, 2014 (10:00 local | 05:00 GMT | 01:00 EDT | 00:00 CDT | 22:00 PDT)
R Rams v Port Qasim A at Rawalpindi
Oct 24-27, 2014 (10:00 local | 05:00 GMT | 01:00 EDT | 00:00 CDT | 22:00 PDT)
Group II: S Stallions v Sui Sthn Gas at Sialkot - Oct 24-27
Sui Sthn Gas 210 S Stallions 8/2
3rd unofficial ODI: U.A.E. v Pakistan A at Dubai (CA) - Oct 25
Pakistan A 240/5 (45.1/50 ov)
Complete fixtures » | Download Fixtures »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days