A talented young fast bowler debuts for Pakistan in 2009 and impresses the world with his pace and swing. Some call him the next Wasim Akram. A year later, that very bowler is in the news for all the wrong reasons and is banned from international cricket for five years for spot-fixing. A few former players from all over the world call for his head. Some think a five-year ban is too lenient, others feel he deserves a second chance. All said and done, in 2016, he is in the spotlight once again as he makes his much-hyped return to international cricket for Pakistan.
It’s a story that any producer or director in Bollywood, or perhaps Hollywood, would pay big bucks for. And why not? It's definitely an inspirational comeback story. But sadly, only till this point. From there on, the best of screenplay writers would have to work their magic to take the story forward and make it 'a reel' life blockbuster.
As for real life, the new and reformed Mohammad Amir has a lot to do to make his comeback story perfect. With form deserting the 26-year-old, it's a start of a different story altogether - that of downfall.
Going wicketless in his last five ODI matches, that is, even before the start of Asia Cup, Amir has managed to take just three wickets in his 10 ODI matches this year at an average of over 100, something many of his compatriots (read batsmen) would look at with envy. Even in Test cricket, Amir hasn't exactly set the stage on fire, taking 56 wickets in 34 innings since his comeback. Out of those, 25 have come against West Indies, Sri Lanka and Ireland, none of whom can be said to be strong Test teams.
While his Test record in 2018 has been decent - 12 wickets from 5 innings against Ireland and England - it was his poor ODI form, as seen in the recently concluded Asia Cup, that resulted in him being dropped for the upcoming two-Test match series against Australia in Dubai. And the axe was expected. Amir has really struggled with the ball in UAE, taking just 7 wickets in four Tests (seven innings) against West Indies and Sri Lanka at Pakistan's makeshift home.
Leaving his match-winning performance against India in the ICC Champions Trophy final, Amir has hardly inspired confidence or looked menacing as he did in his early days. Failing to swing the ball or come up with any variations, he resembled a helpless and ordinary rookie, a shadow of his former self, in the Asia Cup. Unfortunately for Pakistan and world cricket, it is clear that the Mohammad Amir of 2018 is not the same bowler as he was in 2009/10.
The axe, however, may do Amir a world of good as he would get some time to unwind and introspect. A stint in domestic cricket could perhaps add to his confidence and do wonders. With the World Cup being nine months away, Amir still has some time to come back strongly.
It remains to be seen how he completes his story. The good part, however, for Amir and world cricket is, his story has not yet ended.Published 29 Sep 2018, 23:52 IST