Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Mohammad Amir is starting to become a problem for Pakistan as his role is to strike early and take wickets on a consistent basis. However, he has done neither in ODIs in 2018, and the tough question of whether it’s time to drop him must be asked.
Amir returned to the national team in January 2016 after serving a five-year ban for his involvement in the spot-fixing scandal that shocked the cricketing world in 2010.
Since making his international comeback, the left-arm seamer has been a regular face in all three formats. However, while he had a successful 2017, where he took 18 wickets in 12 ODIs at an average of 31.66, his effectiveness has nosedived significantly in the first nine months of 2018 as he has claimed three wickets in 10 ODIs at an average of 100.66.
Interestingly, it has only been Amir’s ODI career that has suffered as there has been a drastic improvement in his Test career from last year to this year.
In 2017, the 26-year-old picked up 14 wickets in six Tests at an average of 33.85, but this year, he is averaging 18.41 after snapping up 12 wickets in three Tests.
Amir’s inability to take wickets in ODIs this year will no doubt be a serious cause for concern, and if the trend continues, Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur and the selection committee, which is headed by former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, will be forced to think long and hard about how long they can afford to give Amir to turn his fortunes around before showing him the door.
“Of course there is [pressure on Amir]. I’d be lying if I sat here and said there wasn’t,” Arthur said a few days ago during the Asia Cup, where Amir has gone wicketless up until Pakistan’s Super Four clash with India.
For the time being though, Arthur seems content to give Amir some leeway as the left-arm seamer has been Pakistan’s pace spearhead for more than a year.
For me personally, if Amir fails to shine for the remainder of the year, Pakistan have to seriously mull over dropping him since there are numerous other bowlers, including left-armers, who are either knocking on the door and eager to make their presence felt at the international level, or aiming to be recalled to the national team.
Should it come to this, Amir will have to start performing in Pakistan’s domestic one-day tournaments before he is considered for selection again.
However, many Pakistan fans will be clinging on to hope that Amir will start taking wickets on a regular basis and keeps hold of his spot in the ODI squad.
All in all, while Amir is without a doubt one of the most talented cricketers Pakistan has to offer, his lack of wickets in the 50-over format cannot be looked over for too much longer as it could have an adverse effect on the team’s performance, morale and ultimately, their ranking.
Feature written by Bimal Mirwani