On 18 June 2017, Muhammad Amir produced one of the greatest spells of fast bowling. In the final of Champions Trophy, he dismantled arguably one of the best top orders single-handedly in his five overs burst, helping Pakistan to register a comprehensive win over arch rivals India.
Fast forward to today with the World Cup forthcoming, Muhammad Amir finds himself in a peculiar scenario. From once being the leader of the pace attack to now warming benches. There is a myriad of criticism on his place in the squad. He is playing more because of his past reputation than present performances. His bowling has lost much of its potency and bite.
Ever since Amir came back after the ban, he has been a ghost of his former self. Yes, there have been some sparks of brilliance here and there but nothing as compared to what he achieved a decade ago in his teenage days. Some pundits blame his lack of bowling in the domestic circuit as the cause of his degradation. Some point out technical issues with his wrist position and bowling too far away from the stumps, which is barring him to bring the ball in.
Since his return in 2016 after the ban, he has picked up 35 wickets in 35 ODI’s, not ideal statistics for a bowler who is supposed to be the best talent in the country. Since the Champions Trophy final in 2017, numbers are even worse with him taking only 5 scalps in 14 matches. Here’s how Amir has fared in his career in ODI’s.
The test format also paints a sorry picture for Amir. His current test tally is 119 wickets in 33 test with an average of 30.6. In UAE he has featured in 4 test matches, picking up only 7 wickets at 56.42. Since his return from the ban, he has picked only one five wicket haul.
After a dismal performance in the Asia Cup in September, Amir was dropped for the home tours against Australia and New Zealand. He was asked to go back to play domestic and work on his pace and swing. Amir made a comeback for the South Africa tour. He showed promise with the red ball by picking up 12 wickets in 3 tests but his pace was a concern throughout the tour. The bowler who used to touch 145 kph mark in his teenage days was bowling around 130 kph. Since his return from the ban he has picked only one five wicket haul.
Mickey Arthur in an interview said: “It’s not just up to me which players play, that is the job of the selectors led by Inzi [chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq],” he told. “But that could be a fair assessment of how we proceed with Amir. The tearaway quick Mohammad Amir who used to run in and rattle stumps and bowls at 145 is no more.
“But he gives us control, and is skilful when the ball swings. So there might be a role change for Mohammad Amir going forward. We will certainly rotate our quicks through the UAE a lot. We won’t kill them in our conditions; we’d look to rotate them through their time. We’ve got strength and depth in our bowling department, which gives us options.”
Amir has lost the swing and zip in his ball but he still has been economical. In recent years, England has offered flat pitches with scores of 300 breached easily. He can come in handy with the old ball and his variations can restrict the batsmen in death overs.
Having missed the previous two world Cups due to his ban, Amir will be hoping to make it big in his first one. Prior to the tournament, Pakistan face off against England in a 5 match series providing a perfect opportunity for Amir to find his lost rhythm. Historically, Muhammad Amir has done well in England and will be hoping to redeem himself before the big challenge.