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Mohammad Amir Pleads For Players

24 June, 2019

If there`s one player in the Pakistan cricket team who understands how a life can be changed by negative press attention, it`s Mohammad Amir.

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Just a few short years ago, the idea that he’d ever be allowed to play for his national side again seemed like a distant dream. Amir was banned from all cricket activity for five years for his part in a betting scandal, and also spent six months in a young offender's institution in England for the same offense. At the time, he wasn't even 20 years old, and his promising career already seemed to be in tatters.


Unlike some of the other players caught up in the same scandal, Amir was treated mercifully. He served less than half of the prison sentence he was handed, and his ban from cricket also ended early. It seemed there was some understanding that Amir was a young player who'd been caught up in bad behavior that was probably encouraged by his older peers. He was also immersed in a foreign culture at a young age. Gambling is illegal in Pakistan, and so he may never even have come across the concept of gambling before going abroad with the national side. In places like England and Australia, gambling is not only legal, but big business. Casinos are everywhere. Adverts for online casino and slots games appear on television, on sports kits, and in newspapers. The outcome of a sporting event is bet upon by millions of people in both locations, and playing a slot game like Fluffy Favourites Slot is as normal an activity for many natives of those countries as playing chess or snooker. None of this negates what Amir did - he could and should have known it to be wrong - but if his actions are viewed with a sympathetic perspective, it's easy to see how he could have got carried away.


Those days are behind Amir now. Regardless of the fact that there are still those who think he should have been banned for life, Amir is back playing cricket, and back representing his country. He's not necessarily the player he once promised to be - the years he spent away from the sport stunted his development - but he's a valuable presence in and around the team. As well as having the ability on the field, he can serve as an example away from the field, helping to ensure that younger players stay on the straight and narrow. It is perhaps with those players in mind that Amir has this week called for merciful treatment of the players in the aftermath of the desperately disappointing Cricket World Cup defeat to India.


Almost immediately after the defeat, Amir took to his Twitter account to ask his nation's press not to use 'bad words' when describing the individuals who performed so poorly on the day. He made it clear that he was fine with the team's performance being criticized, but he was keen that the players were spoken about as a unit rather than any one or two players being singled out for harsh treatment. There were, of course, poor individual performances on the day, but from Amir's point of view, Pakistan wins and loses as a team.


This is a promising sign of a new maturity in the fast bowler. As a regular social media user, it’s reasonable to assume that Amir is very aware of the raw responses that were directed at both him and his teammates in the immediate aftermath of the defeat. He’ll have seen the comments. He’ll have seen the memes. Now, it would seem that he wants to put an arm around his fellow players and protect them from the same harsh spotlight that once threatened to evaporate him. His point is also a valid one - nothing can now be done to change the nature of the defeat. All the players can do is play better next time, and hope for a positive result. All the supporters can do is get behind them, and try to help them succeed in that objective.


What is yet to become clear is whether, as has been rumored, some players within the squad violated a strict curfew that had been placed upon them regarding their activities the day and night prior to the game. Shoaib Malik and others were pictured socializing in the 24 hours prior to the fixture's commencement, but all concerned insist that the photos were taken 48 hours before the game, and not the day prior. As fans look to find reasons for the team's poor performance, incidents like this are easy to grab on to and use as a means to attack the players. With Amir in the dressing room - someone who, as we've already said, knows all about the dangers of poor judgment and poor behavior - one would assume that he'd use his voice to try to dissuade teammates from acting in a way which would lead to recriminations later. If the players are innocent of all charges, it would be good if an official came forward and said so.


It’s not too late for Pakistan to mount a comeback, and find a way to make it to the final four of the World Cup. It’s admittedly unlikely, but until it becomes mathematically impossible, the team should be afforded the full support of all fans. Beating England in their own back yard seemed unlikely until it happened, and so if a shock can occur once, it can occur again. Amir, who has taken his chance to come back in from the cold with both hands and run with it, will have as much as anyone in the team to do with Pakistan’s chances of progressing. Even in a dismal defeat to India, his 3-47 performance suggested that he’s in the sort of form that can trouble opposing batsmen. In the event that Pakistan are eliminated at this early stage, the harsh criticism can begin then. Until that point, the best way forward is to do as Amir has requested - give the players room to breathe, give them the benefit of the doubt, and allow them to perform at their best.

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