Brendon McCullum believes Mohammad Amir should get benefit of the doubt
With the road to his return being cleared by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Mohammad Amir’s final hurdle in his pursuit to taking the field against New Zealand in February looks like easing a bit, as the incumbent NZ captain Brendon McCullum came out to back the tainted pacer’s return.
The man with the most T20I runs said that Amir should be given ‘the benefit of the doubt’ and that he should be allowed to compete in the limited-overs fixtures against the Kiwis. Notwithstanding the 23-year old’s return, the New Zealand immigration authority might not grant him a visa based on his conviction in a criminal offence.
"The ICC has allowed him to make some steps back into international cricket and we'll give him the benefit of the doubt," McCullum told Radio Sport on Sunday.
The Pakistani was 17-years old when he was convicted for his involvement in spot-fixing during the 2010 tour to England. He served a five-year exile from cricket following the crime and also spent three months of a six-month imprisonment in England.
McCullum for one is of the opinion that his relatively young age at the time of the offence should be a reason enough for him to be pardoned and looked at with neutral eyes.
“He was a very young man at the time and he’s gone through a sound rehabilitation program,” the Blackcaps captain said. “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.”
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive David White also backed the team’s captain by saying, “First and foremost he's been cleared to play all forms of cricket by the ICC (International Cricket Council). We're guided by them.”
“He was a very, very young man, a boy really (when he was suspended). 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 duo, however, responded in the negative when asked if the tainted bowler’s issue had come up during the team meetings or the board discussions.
“In all honestly, it hasn't dominated our team discussions. We've had our eyes on other things and once the Pakistan boys arrive here we'll focus our attentions to their lineup," said McCullum.
In the light of recent events, where Amir has received both support and slack related to his character, words of positivity coming from the opposition’s captain should give him a sigh of relief.
Mere talks though would not seal the deal for Amir, as the immigration authority is yet to make a decision on the issue. However, it was reported this Christmas that no application for the foreign national’s visa request was received by the authority, and a decision would be made on it, once they get one.