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Amir Could Have Managed That Five-Year Ban Period Better: Arthur

Mohammad Amir's premature retirement from Test cricket has raised a lot of eyebrows but Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur wasn't surprised with his decision despite management's heavy efforts of easing the left-arm pacer's workload over the past year

Cricketnext Staff |July 30, 2019, 11:29 AM IST
Amir Could Have Managed That Five-Year Ban Period Better: Arthur

Mohammad Amir's premature retirement from Test cricket has raised a lot of eyebrows but Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur wasn't surprised with his decision despite management's heavy efforts of easing the left-arm pacer's workload over the past year.

"It was on the cards for a long while. Amir had been speaking to me about it with me for some time now. His Test career was taking a strain on his body. It's not about management here. It's about his desire to play Test cricket and the effects it has on his body," Arthur told ESPNcricinfo.

"I think Amir's an unbelievable bowler and reluctantly I accepted his decision because that's what he wanted to do and that's what he thought was best for himself. What it does do is give us a white-ball bowler that I think we can get a longer period from."

There were talks about using Amir for only overseas Test tours as he was rested for the five Tests in the UAE before being called up for the three-match Test series in South Africa. Overall, only four out of his 36 Tests came in the UAE.

"Of course there was (a possibility Amir would only play away). We managed him through the South African series. He didn't play any Test cricket during the UAE last year. That was part of his management, and we started putting that in place because we wanted him for the South African series."

Former Pakistan pacers Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar were extremely disappointed after Amir announced his retirement at the age of 27. Meanwhile, Arthur feels Amir could have played longer if he would have managed that five-year ban period better.

"He had five years out of the game, we mustn't forget that. In those five years, he didn't do anything. His body was not up to the rigours of day in, day out Test cricket. We pushed him as much as we could during the England and South Africa series, because he is such a good bowler whom we wanted during those tours. We've tried everything we possibly could with Amir.

"He could have managed those five years better. He'd be the first one to acknowledge that. But I understand where he was in his whole life, so it was a tough period for him. I understand all that. I've got a very soft spot for Mohammad Amir. As a person and as a cricketer, I admire him greatly. Yes, I am disappointed he won't be playing Test cricket for us. But it was made in the best interests of his white-ball cricket in mind."

After struggling for a year or two in white-ball cricket, Amir rose up to the occasion during the World Cup and scalped 17 wickets in eight games. Having retired from Test cricket, Arthur feels that the world will get to see the "rejuvenated and refreshed" version of Amir in the limited-overs format.

"We get a white-ball bowler who's going to be rejuvenated, refreshed, and with a T20 World Cup just around the corner, in 18 months' time we've got a potential match-winner because we know he performs on the big stage.

"Like every other player who plays for Pakistan, he's going to need to put in match-winning performances. But he'll certainly get the opportunity to do that, and he will start in our white-ball cricket."

Arthur also said that Amir would have been right up there with the best Pakistani fast bowlers if he hadn't been banned for five years for his involvement in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal in England.

"The Amir hype all those years ago was justified because he is a quality bowler. When the ball swings there's not much better. But he's not the bowler now that he was in 2009 and 2010. He was different, his body was different. Making a connection between the bowler now and then would be wrong.

"But had he not had those five years out of the game, I think he would be up there with the very best Pakistan have ever had."

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