Having served his time and also his punishment, Mohammad Amir, the fast bowling prodigy, has now been allowed by the ICC to rehabilitate and redeem himself back to where he belonged in the first place before being exposed in the spot-fixing scam during the Lord’s Test of 2010 along with his captain Salman Butt and pacer Mohammad Asif.

Amir’s return, obviously, has now triggered a debate whether he should be permitted by the PCB to make a comeback to try and establish himself once again and play for his country or be made an example for the rest to ensure no one ever dares to act the way he did.

It is important, therefore, to understand the whole situation and dig deep into it to discover as to why he got into this predicament and who in fact lured him into the shady world of cricket corruption at such an early stage of his international career which undoubtedly promised heaven and earth for the talent that he had in him.

Making millions in a canter would have his had he not succumbed to greed for a quick buck which he might have thought was the easiest way to get rich. Unaware of the world around him, he was raw, new and naive too, not cognizant of the wrath his action would bring to the team and the cricket-mad nation.

There is no doubt in my mind that he and Asif were baited into the network by their crooked and slimy captain who was at it for some time, not knowing that after Pakistan’s dicey defeat against Australia in the Sydney Test, the sting operators of the tabloid newspaper in London were already following their every move which they eventually exposed during the England tour of 2010.

The then PCB management on tour and the officials, unfortunately, failed to realize the seriousness of it. Had they then withdrawn the players immediately from the tour after the allegation surfaced and had the three accused players pleaded guilty when the ICC tribunal led by Michael Bellof interrogated them, things may not have turned that tragic as they did when Amir along with the main culprits was imprisoned.

The night before the story surfaced accusing Salman, Asif and Amir for spot-fixing, I was contacted in London by a rival tabloid’s cricket writer informing me about the three players’ involvement with the bookies and the story which was to appear the next day in ‘News of the World.’

It did not surprise me but it really shocked me when Amir was mentioned amongst the three. The caller then offered me 10,000 pounds to write a thousand-word story on ‘corruption in Pakistan cricket’ to match the sting operation story of ‘News of the World’, promising me to increase the offer if I agreed.

“There is no way I would do this to malign my players and Pakistan,” I told the reporter and stuck to my stance.

Luckily, I took the right decision or else things would have become even more humiliating.

The revelation of the sting operation that appeared the next day, however, can never be forgotten because of the shame that it brought to all of us who love cricket and who admired Amir’s tremendous talent.

That indeed is history now and we ought to draw a line somewhere to come to a decision whether Amir deserves a second chance. Everyone has a right to speak his own mind and I do not blame those who would not like Amir to be inducted into the team again. In fact, I respect their views for the fact that the controversy sullied the country’s image and shamed all of us.

But we know of many big names who were found out and punished and that includes Hansie Cronje who is no more with us, Shane Warne, Mark Waugh, Maurice Odumbe, Mohammad Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Salim Malik and Marlon Samuel to name a few.

And except for those who had been given a life ban, the others did make a re-entry after being punished and after serving the banishment. Amir, I suppose, should be given another go to reorganise himself to make a comeback into the main-stream.

If we think on the principle of ‘To err is human and to forgive divine’, then we must take into account the circumstances which compelled him into doing what he did. His admission of guilt and remorse and now his vow to behave straight, clean and fair in future itself begs consideration.

Published in Dawn February 1st, 2015

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