Amir likely to cut down on Tests to prolong career
Mohammad Amir has come to an agreement with Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur that is likely to see him play less Test cricket
Mohammad Amir is considering shortening his Test career in a bid to extend his international playing days. The fast bowler has come to an agreement in principle with Pakistan's head coach, Mickey Arthur, which will see Amir's workload being managed in the future, and it is likely that it will reduce the number of Tests he appears in.
Amir, 25, has played 30 Tests since his debut nearly nine years ago, but he didn't play any cricket for five of those years when he was serving a ban for his part in the Lord's spot-fix in 2010. He was 18 at the time, had played 14 Tests and become the youngest bowler to take 50 Test wickets. Had he not taken part in the fix and been banned it is likely he would have played a majority of Pakistan's 43 Tests in the interim.
Since his international return at the start of 2016, he has added 16 Tests and though his record may not stand out - 44 wickets at 37.25 - he has been a regular for Pakistan in all three formats. Added to stints in county cricket and T20 leagues and it is no surprise he is starting to feel the toll. He has bowled the most international overs for any Pakistan bowler since his return (864.3 overs) across all formats, sixth among fast bowlers worldwide - none of the others returned, however, from five years out of top-flight sport.
"Cricket is different since 2010 and if you look back I have lost five precious years of my career," Amir told ESPNcricinfo. "Just imagine had I played in all those years, the count could have been 70-80 Tests.
"I can't roll back that lost time but I can manage my workload to extend my career as much as I can. With every passing day I'm getting older and I know fans want me to play. But if you look rationally I'm human and not an iron man. My passion is still there and I want to be there for fans, serving the country for a long time. I have played 30 Tests so far. I think in the next few years I might miss a few and possibly I might end up with 50 Tests.
"I came to agreement with Mickey and with so much cricket we need to follow a rotation policy so that everyone is fresh and fully fit for the country. His planning ahead of the 2019 World Cup is working very well. I didn't say I don't want to play Test cricket but that I want to weave myself in, resting for a few and playing the important games. This is being done by Australia and England, so why not us? We have so many potential bowlers around and all need to be played … it's not like I will stay forever but whatever time I have I would rather stay with greater impact."
Amir has been fairly fortunate in avoiding major injuries in international cricket, though during his Under-19 days he did suffer a major stress fracture of the back. Since his return he has injured his shin - midway through a Test against Sri Lanka last year - and sustained a side strain during the PSL this season. He was rested by the management during the 2016-17 home series against West Indies and also missed the World XI series in Lahore last year after becoming a father.
Rumours had floated last year that Amir was considering giving up Tests altogether, rumours which he denied.
"At the end of the day it all comes down to you individually," he said. "You know your body very well and you know how much your body can sustain.
"Sometimes people don't realise that bowlers need rest and when you go out with injury, if it's a serious one then you have no future. You fade away and people forget. I have seen many examples in our system, of players who have come and gone.
"With so much cricket going on I have be very careful with my body. I have lost enough in my life and this is my profession, I need to be very careful going forward. Fitness is everything and for a fast bowler it's really tough for me to play everything. A good impactful performance comes with a fitter body and with a fresh state of mind."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent