Pak’s Waqar excited over Amir return

Karachi, December 31

Pakistan’s head coach Waqar Younis expressed excitement on Thursday over the imminent return of Mohammad Amir following a five-year ban for spot-fixing.

Amir, 23, is favourite to get the selectors’ nod for a tour of New Zealand, where Pakistan will play three Twenty20s and three one-day internationals. The squad for the Twenty20s is likely to be announced on Friday. Waqar, himself a fast bowler, said Amir had plenty to offer. “I am very excited over his comeback,” Waqar told AFP. “Amir is on the right path and has worked really hard in the fitness camp and I believe this kid has plenty to offer to Pakistan cricket,” he added.

Waqar said Amir needed support. “It may take time for Amir to attain the same zip which he had in 2010, so we should not pressurise him and support him so that he can get back to his best,” Waqar said.

Amir, then Test captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were charged with accepting money in exchange for arranging deliberate no-balls during a Test match at Lord’s in England in 2010.

The three players and their agent Mazhar Majeed were jailed by a British court in 2011. Amir, Butt and Asif were also banned from cricket for five years. But in September this year the International Cricket Council lifted sanctions against the three players. Amir’s ban was relaxed in January this year and he was allowed to play domestic matches.

At the time of the ban, Amir was tipped as one of the most talented fast bowlers in the world. Since his return, he has taken 22 wickets in four non first-class games, while his tally of wickets in the qualifying rounds of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy stood at 34.