TAUNTON: Mohammad Amir’s return to first-class cricket was all heroic. He grabbed 3-36 in 11 overs that rocked Somerset’s batting line-up, making their opening batsman Marcus Trescothick worry for the English top-order.
The 40-year-old Trescothick was mesmerised by the left-arm quick’s late movement of the ball.
“He bowled very well,” Trescothick, who was dismissed by Amir for eight, said. “He swung the ball really late, that’s the biggest thing we noticed.”
His sumptuous in-swingers against Somerset were praised by many, but for British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Amir had to be labelled as a “convicted spot-fixer”.
As Amir ran through the Somerset line-up, BBC reported: “Convicted spot-fixer Mohammad Amir was in the wickets as he returned to first-class cricket.”
For many cricketers and cricketing experts, BBC need not remind its audience that Amir was a convicted spot-fixer.
England all-rounder and Amir’s Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Karachi Kings teammate Ravi Bopara was one of the first ones to criticise the news channel.
“The guy performs well and that’s the best headline BBC sport could come up with? Poor from BBC sport,” he said.
“BBC Sport picking on Mohammad Amir is just taking two-facedness to an extreme,” wrote Dileep Premachandran, Wisden India’s editor-in-chief.
“Factually, there is nothing wrong with the BBC headline. Amir did engage in spot-fixing. He has admitted as much.
“He was 18 at the time, and the fact that he shared an agent with his crooked captain, who really should have been banned for life, undoubtedly had a lot to do with his actions.
“Yet, he has never used that as an excuse. Even though he was still a teenager, he was mature enough to take his punishment on the chin,” he said.
Amir has already made a steady comeback in limited-overs cricket but English captain Alastair Cook has warned “there will be a reaction” from fans at Lord’s if he is picked.
“I’m sure there will be a reaction and that is right,” said Cook.
“That is part and parcel, that when you do something like that there are more consequences than just the punishment. That is something for him to cope with, whatever comes his way.”
But Pakistan legend Wasim Akram said expected hostility from England fans will not deter Amir from leading his country’s bowling attack when he returns to the scene of his crime at Lord’s next week.
“It won’t be easy for him,” the 50-year-old said on Monday. “My advice to him will be to enjoy the game, he has got pace and skill so go out and try to do his best.”
Amir’s exciting career came to a shuddering halt during a Lord’s Test in 2010 when he and new-ball partner Mohammad Asif were caught bowling no-balls to order on the instructions of captain Salman Butt as part of a tabloid newspaper sting operation.
All three received five-year bans from cricket and together with sports agent Mazhar Majeed, jail terms.
Amir, who served three months in an English young offenders institute, has only featured in the game’s shorter formats since his return to Pakistan duty in January.
But the 24-year-old is now back in England and could make his Test return in the first of a four-match series at Lord’s on July 14.