Mohammad Amir granted a New Zealand visa, will travel with the team on January 9
The last hurdle in Mohammad Amir’s comeback quest has finally been cleared by the New Zealand Immigration Authority, as it granted the cricketer a visitor visa, thereby enabling him to travel with the Pakistan Cricket Team for their limited-overs fixtures this month.
Amir was picked for the ODI and T20I squad for the New Zealand tour on January 1. Speculations were raised about the left-arm pacer being denied a visa given that he was a convict in a criminal offence, against which the immigration authority has strong reservations.
However, the air was cleared by the Michael Carley, the Immigrations Authority of New Zealand (INZ) area manager, who told stuff.co.nz that, “Immigration New Zealand can confirm that a visitor visa has been approved for Mohammad Amir to travel as part of the Pakistan Cricket Team set to tour New Zealand this month.”
"In making this decision, INZ considered factors including the support of the New Zealand and Pakistan Cricket Board and that Mr Amir had served his sentence for his previous actions."
The apprehensions about the issue surfaced first after the Pakistani was picked for the conditioning camp organized by the PCB before the team selection, keeping in mind a statement on the INZ website states, “People with criminal convictions or who have provided false or misleading information will not be granted a visa unless a character waiver is granted.”
“In the case of character waivers, each application is considered on its individual merits and taking into account, for example, the seriousness of an offence, number of offences and how long ago the event/s occurred,” it was further mentioned.
This meant that even though the cricketer gets picked, which he was, his participation in the series and arrival in NZ was in question.
However, Carley said that Amir’s case was considered after contemplating his purpose of visit to the country. "Taking into account all the circumstances and with full understanding of the purpose of his visit, a visa has been approved for Mr Amir," he said.
In 2014, the 23-year old was denied a visa for England, and the PCB was apprehensive about a similar situation with New Zealand. The board, however, was exploring all possible actions, as it had sought legal advice from England and had also roped in Amir’s lawyer.
Mohd. Amir received support from New Zealand Cricket
Since then, there has been plenty of support for the cricketer as to his arrival in New Zealand and participation in the series, as the incumbent NZ captain, Brendon McCullum had vocally supported his Pakistani opponent.
"He was a very young man at the time and he's gone through a sound rehabilitation program. If he gets out on the field against us, then you play against the man you're playing against, not a man who may have made some mistakes as a youngster," the Kiwi skipper had said.
These comments were also backed by the NZC chief David White who had said, “He was a very, very young man, a boy really. He showed remorse at the time, admitted to it. He's gone through all the rehabilitation and education as prescribed by the ICC. I'm personally comfortable with him coming to New Zealand and playing.”
The genesis of this episode dates back to 2011, when Amir, along with his then teammates, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were found guilty of a conspiracy to cheat at gambling, and accept corrupt payments during Pakistan’s 2010 tour of England.
The then 19-year old was given a six-month jail sentence in England, and served half of it at the Portland Young Offenders Institution in Dorset. He was banned for five years from competitive cricket by the ICC, who reinstated the player in January 2015, before the official termination of his reprimand, which happened in September.
Since then, the Pakistani prodigy has impressed one and all through his performances in the domestic matches as well as the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) in a similar manner as he had done when he first appeared on the international scene in 2009.