Of Sins Not Tragedies, or The Last You’ll Hear of Amir

Posted on February 16, 2011 by

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For us Pakistan fans, build-up to the World Cup, much like all recent editions of the tournament, has been flush with motivational pop songs, cathartic youtube videos, chest-thumping previews, and TV specials whose tone is more threatening than supportive. This cacophony of patriotic multimedia suggest the same general conclusion: the boys are gonna bring it home—Afridi and his merry band of half-wits will stumble through the opening rounds, Boom Boom & Bang Bang their way through the second and third rounds, and arrive in the final with confidence so astronomically high that even God Sachin himself won’t be able to stop them. But lurking behind each of these odes to a predestined victory is a disclaimer of sorts: “We’ll probably win,” they declare in unison. “But we would DEFINITELY win if Amir was here.”

Pakistani cricket is built on spasms of supernatural brilliance; the variety of which Amir was not in short supply. The kid had it all—in-swing, out-swing, seam, pace, angle, and most importantly, balls. Comparisons to Wasim Akram, not least by Left-Arm-of-God himself, have particular resonance because of Wasim bhai’s legendary ’92 Finals performance. And so the sense of loss felt by fans, commentators, ex-cricketers, and even politicians alike is understandable. However, the time has come when we as Pakistan supporters need to finally say to ourselves: GET OVER IT.

Let me explain. Amir was definitely a talented bowler, and would’ve been handy no matter where or when Pakistan was playing. But this World Cup is being played in the sub-continent—universally acknowledged by pace bowlers as Dante’s unrevealed eighth level of Hell. If you’re a fast-medium bowler— I’m talking 135-145kph—you will be slapped around like a child-laborer in Sargodah. It doesn’t matter how much you can swing it or seam it in England or Australia, because the ball neither seams or swings in South Asia. In these conditions, brisk-but-not-quick young Amir would have been cannon fodder for the likes of Cameron White and Virat Kohli. In fact, our current bowlers—Gul and Wahab with their yorkers, Shoaib with his pace and reverse swing—are far better suited to the task.

But beyond the World Cup, many have mourned the loss of Amir’s potential career. Here again, comparisons to Wasim bhai predicted him to be the talisman of Team Pakistan for decades to come. But haven’t we heard that before? The beauty of Pakistan cricket is the unending assembly line of talented fast bowlers. And while we’ve produced many in our time, we’ve also lost many to tragedy. Anyone remember Mohammad Zahid? Shoaib Akhtar, The Grand Ayatollah of Self-Absorption, admitted once that Zahid was quicker. Back Injury. Anyone remember Shabbir Ahmed? Along with Waqar Younis, he was the fastest Pakistani to take 50 test wickets, at a Waqar-esque average of 23. Suspect Action. Anyone remember one Mohammad Sami? Much like Amir, Sami exploded onto the scene, dishing out 5-fers and hat ricks like it was Mardi Gras. Well, we all know how that story ends. Point is—we’re uniquely blessed with not having to worry about potentially epic fast bowlers emerging from our ranks.

But there is another, perhaps more pressing reason, Amir should now be forgotten. Amir cheated. He betrayed that unsaid trust between sportsman and fan. With that out-stretched front foot, he stomped on everything we hold sacred about the game of cricket, about sport. How can we support someone if we don’t know that every moment he is on the cricket pitch representing our country, he is not playing to win? If one day in the future, before the eyes of the world, wearing the green and golden Chand Sitara [moon & crescent], Mohammad Amir were to once again walk on to a cricket pitch, I, for one, would be sickened.

We need to stop talking about Amir as if he will come back. We need to stop saying “he’s our best bowler” when he should not be playing cricket. We need to judge him not by his God-given talent, but his deficiency in character. We need to forget about this guy, fellow fans, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of the game.

If Pakistan loses the World Cup, it will not be because we didn’t have Mohammad Amir. If we win the World Cup, we will do it in spite the of grief Mohammad Amir has caused. In the mean time, let’s just be content knowing that the 11 half-wits taking the field on February 23rd will do so fully imbued with the honor of representing their country.

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Article by Raza Naqvi