April 13, 1992, Gujjar Khan, Punjab
Also Known As
Left hand bat
Left arm fast
Mohammad Amir, a left-arm pace bowler, reveres Wasim Akram. Over 2007 and 2008, he also emerged, still improbably young, as a hot pace prospect. Even before he went to England on an U-19 tour, he had been picked out as a special talent by Akram himself at a pace camp he oversaw in Lahore in May 2007. By 2010, he had become the hottest pace bowling prospect around the world - but within months his career was in ruins following charges of spot-fixing.
He began in 2009 with an impressive showing on the domestic circuit, impressing with his whippy pace and swing. He took 55 wickets for National Bank of Pakistan in his debut season, and earned selection to the Pakistan World T20 squad. There he hit the big time, taking over from an out-of-sorts Sohail Tanvir and bowling with pace, accuracy and courage.
He hovered in the high 80mphs, touching even 90 on occasion and was a crucial opening link in Pakistan's title run. He bowled several nerveless final overs and one absolutely crucial opening over, in the final, when he dismissed tournament top-scorer Tillakaratne Dilshan for a five-ball duck, peppering him with quick, short balls. He carried his form over to the ODI version, picking up match-winning figures of 4 for 28 against Sri Lanka in August before turning in consistent spells in the Champions Trophy.
He picked six wickets on Test debut in Sri Lanka. Thereafter, over tours to New Zealand, Australia and England, he matured remarkably, building up his pace and both new-ball and reverse swing. The 2010 tour of England saw the best of him and he became the youngest bowler, at 18, to take 50 Test wickets. But his world crashed around him when he was implicated in a spot-fixing scam in which it was alleged that he had bowled deliberate, pre-planned no-balls in a Test. In February 2011 he was handed a five-year ban following investigations by an ICC tribunal. He pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to six months in prison at Southwark Crown Court.
After his release, Amir frequently expressed his contrition over the incident and co-operated with the ICC in spreading its anti-corruption message. Having been cleared to return to all forms of cricket in September 2015, he made his international comeback the following January, as part of Pakistan's limited-overs squad to New Zealand. On his next international assignment, the 20-over Asia Cup in Dhaka, he made waves once again, rattling India's top order with three wickets in a hostile spell of pace bowling. Amir's reintegration came full circle when he was selected in the Test squad for England later that year, setting up a comeback Test at Lord's, the venue where the spot-fixing scandal had derailed his career six years before.
However, it is in Test cricket, the format supposedly perfectly designed for him to express his wizardry, that he has disappointed most profoundly. Magical spells with the new ball have been all too fleeting, and his performances in the three countries where conditions are arguably best suited to him, have been largely indifferent. With the ball, he averaged 42.41 in England in 2016, 28.83 in New Zealand that same year, and 61.60 when Australia whitewashed Pakistan at the turn of the year. The prodigious banana swing from that titillating left-arm angle - and that quite beautiful bowling action - does come, but not nearly as potently or regularly as memory suggests it did in his teenage years. In other words, Amir, in Test cricket, has flattered to deceive.
It depends on what he wants to be remembered for, though, because if he wishes to live for famous moments rather than a stellar career, he's got the biggest one tucked up already. In the Champions Trophy final against India, it was his opening salvo that put the game out of India's reach. Defending 338, he trapped Rohit Sharma in front in the first over, before taking Virat Kohli's outside edge twice in two balls - the first was dropped in the slips. Shikhar Dhawan fell at Amir's hands too, with the fast bowler's figures reading 6-2-16-3, as Pakistan stormed to victory by 180 runs.
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