Image courtesy of: Zimbio
The decision to leave Mohammad Amir out of Pakistan’s World Cup squad has divided opinion, with some saying the right move was made, while others feel the selectors made a grave mistake.
The left-arm seamer has been in woeful form in ODIs since the conclusion of the Champions Trophy in June 2017 as he has only taken five wickets in 14 matches at an average of 92.60.
While snubbing Amir for the quadrennial event is controversial to say the least, let’s have a look at what former and current Pakistan players had to say about the 27-year-old before the decision was made.
The legendary left-arm fast bowler seemed to be leaning in the direction of picking Amir for the World Cup as earlier this month, he said that the fellow left-armer was “still one of the best bowlers we have”.
Akram admitted that Amir’s lack of wickets was a problem, but he felt that the 27-year-old could have bounced back at any time.
“Someone tell me is there a good bowler who we haven’t seen yet? OK, Amir has taken four wickets in 14 matches, but he’s still one of the best bowlers we have. He can swing the ball, he’s just not getting wickets,” Akram had said.
The former Pakistan captain made it abundantly clear that it would be a huge mistake to drop Amir for the World Cup.
“You cannot ignore him as he is still the most skillful bowler with the new ball for Pakistan,” Ramiz had said.
He added that Amir would have been useful against teams like India as he has the ability to cause problems by bringing the new ball in.
“I would still take an outside chance and would include Mohammad Amir because he is still a big match performer,” Ramiz said. “As you know, our biggest match would be against India, and against the arch rivals we need a bowler who can bring the ball inwards with the new ball.”
The Pakistan captain initially seemed to criticise the 27-year-old, saying that he needed to focus more on his cricket as he wasn’t doing the job that was required of him as a frontline bowler.
“I feel that Mohammad Amir will have to focus more towards cricket,” Sarfraz had said. “He is a good and talented bowler and in the T20 format he is an excellent bowler.
“So he is good in four overs but he will need to focus on 10 overs also as there you have to usually bowl in three spells; In contrast, in T20 for four overs the bowler puts all his effort.
“So he will have to put in more hard work and be more focused. His issue is that he is bowling well but not able to take wickets and is not getting the right results.”
However, just a couple of days later, he changed his tune and said that Amir was capable of regaining his form with the ball.
“It is true that Amir is not able to take wickets, but as a captain I believe that he has been bowling well but unfortunately has is not getting the results,” he said. “However, Amir is a player that has the ability to make a good comeback, obviously we [will] talk to him and try to identify the flaws.”
The ex-Pakistan seamer felt that the blame for Amir’s struggles should also fall on the team management as they had not succeeded in changing his fortunes for the better.
“His wicket-taking ability is being questioned continuously. The team management should resolve his problems,” Jalaluddin had said. “He has been part of the national team for many months but so far the team management has failed to get him to perform to the best of his abilities.”
In an almost scary foreshadowing of what happened when the World Cup squad was announced, chief selector and former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said that Amir was no longer an “automatic selection” back in March.
Inzamam obviously had a large say in whether Amir would have been picked for the showpiece event, and felt that the 27-year-old was just not up to the mark as he had been given ample opportunities to make his presence felt.
“Amir might not be an automatic selection at this stage but he is a very good bowler and there is no doubt it,” Inzamam had said. “If a senior bowler like him looks out of form, off-colour, it’s a worry for us. He is a big-occasion bowler and we need to have a bowler like him in our armoury.”