SOUTHAMPTON: Six years after his involvement in one of cricket's biggest corruption scandals, Mohammad Amir returns to the test arena next month with a chance to show he can still be the world's greatest bowler.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said on Monday that Amir still has all the qualities that made him one of the sport's hottest properties as an 18-year-old fast bowler, before he was exposed with two Pakistan teammates in a 2010 fixing plot in England that earned him a jail sentence and a long ban from cricket.
"He can still be the best bowler in the world," Misbah said in Southampton, where Pakistan was holding its first news conference since arriving in England for a four-test tour. "The way he has been bowling, he is there. You look at his bowling speed, his swing, his control ... they're all there."
Amir served half of a six-month jail sentence in England after pleading guilty to charges of bowling deliberate no-balls at pre-arranged times to fix spot-betting markets while playing for Pakistan in a test against England at Lord's. Then-captain Salman Butt and fellow bowler Mohammad Asif were also involved and received jail sentences.
The International Cricket Council banned Amir from all cricket for five years.
Amir became eligible to play again last September and he already has been recalled by Pakistan in both white-ball formats. But this summer marks his return to test cricket, and — ironically — his first match back is set to be at Lord's.
"He knows he is under pressure, but he is handling it well," Misbah said. "This is a good chance for him to come here — the place where he had those problems — and show the world he is there to perform and deliver for the team."
Misbah said the 24-year-old Amir should expect a mixed reaction from England fans.
"It is a chance to win back all his fans," Misbah said. "It's a great opportunity and he is working hard. It (a bad reception) might happen — you can always hear voices — but it always (happens) in a crowd.
"Anything might happen, but Amir's main focus should be on his game. The best way is to concentrate on your skills and your duties and Amir has to focus on his game and what he has to do. He is doing well."
Pakistan has two tour matches before facing England in the test series.