Return to cricket marks beginning of a new life: Mohammad Amir
Lahore, May 20 (IANS) Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Amir believes he has "been given a new life" as he looks to make his way back to international cricket later this year.
Amir was banned from all cricket for five years after being found guilty of spot-fixing during a Test match against England in 2010.
He said he thought of quitting on several occasions throughout his suspension but has been motivated by the huge support since his return to competitive cricket, playing in Pakistan's domestic T20 competition.
At the time of his ban, the left-arm pacer was just 18-years-old and was touted as one of the world's most promising bowlers, having already appeared in 14 Tests and taken 51 wickets.
"I must admit I have been given a new life," Amir was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au on Wednesday.
"I will try my best to avail this opportunity. I am ready to put in the hard yards to serve Pakistan. I am extremely pleased to see the crowd and fans supporting me after the comeback. It really is huge force of motivation for me," he said.
"The fans had their support with me in last four years as well. I have noticed in this tournament (Pakistan domestic Super Eight Twenty20) that people are backing me. They have lot of expectations from me. Now it is my responsibility to not let them down."
In January, the speedster was granted permission by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to return to playing domestic cricket, eight months prior to serving his full five-year ban. He returned to claim five wickets for Rawalpindi Rams in the national T20 tournament.
"I wasn't allowed to use the best available cricket facilities in Pakistan but when I received permission to play domestic cricket I got couple of months to train and also got the chance to play Grade-2 cricket which helped me getting into rhythm before this T20 tournament," he said.
"I have always loved challenges. This tournament has been a good experience for me. It will be beneficial for me in future. At the moment I am looking forward to play any sort of cricket in bid to get match practice."
Reflecting on his lengthy ban, Amir admitted it was tough.
"I don't have words to explain how tough last four years were for me. It is not easy when your bread and butter is stopped and you have no other income," he said.
"I was in a situation that I wasn't even allowed to touch a ball. It was really difficult. To be honest, yes, there were a few moments when I had lost hope, when I couldn't see anything coming my way."
Amir said he thought of taking up other career options, including studying but credited coach Asif Bajwa to help him overcome those contemplations.
"At one stage I was planning to start studies again. I had started to think about doing other things. I must give credit to my coach Asif Bajwa, who motivated me throughout this period and kept cricket alive in me," he said.
Amir's manager, Syed Noman Nazir, has confirmed the paceman had been approached by an agent with a view to his participation in Australia's national T20 tournament, the Big Bash League, later this year. But he refused to disclose details about the offer.
Amir said his priority now is to work on his fitness.
"Right now my focus is only on keeping myself fit. If I am fit I will play whatever cricket comes my way. But currently my focus is only on my fitness."