ICC chief ex­ec­u­tive backs Amir’s Eng­land re­turn

Pakistan Observer - - SPORTS -

LON­DON—In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive David Richard­son ex­pects Pak­istan quick bowler Mo­ham­mad Amir to tour Eng­land next month, say­ing the for­mer spot-fixer’s re­turn is a “good thing” for the sport.

Amir, 24, fea­tured in two one-day in­ter­na­tion­als against New Zealand in Jan­uary and the Pak­istan Cricket Board have ap­proached their English coun­ter­parts for help in se­cur­ing a visa for the tal­ented lef­t­armer.

He was given a six-month prison sen­tence, of which he served half in a UK young of­fend­ers’ in­sti­tute, on charges of con­spir­acy to ac­cept cor­rupt pay­ments and con­spir­acy to cheat at gam­bling af­ter bowl­ing de­lib­er­ate no-balls dur­ing the Lord’s Test in Au­gust 2010.

The same spot-fix­ing scan­dal also saw fel­low pace­man Mo­ham­mad Asif and then Pak­istan Test cap­tain Sal­man Butt given jail sen­tences by an English court and bans by the ICC.

Al­though now cleared to play again by the ICC, Amir’s crim­i­nal con­vic­tion could see him de­nied an en­try visa to Bri­tain for Pak­istan’s tour of Eng­land, where they will play four Tests — the first at Lord’s — five one-day in­ter­na­tion­als and a Twenty20 be­tween July and Septem­ber.

“I al­ways think you get handed out your pun­ish­ment, you serve it and then who are we to say ‘never again?’,” Richard­son told AFP in an in­ter­view at The Oval in south Lon­don on Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing the launch of the 2017 ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy one-day tour­na­ment.

“He (Amir) has cer­tainly shown a will­ing­ness to make sure he sets an ex­am­ple now by ask­ing younger play­ers to learn from his mis­takes. “Cer­tainly, I think it’s a good thing that he’s back play­ing,” the 56-year-old added.

“I’d be sur­prised if he (Amir) doesn’t end up com­ing (to Eng­land).”

f Amir does make the tour, he could be bowl­ing to Eng­land cap­tain Alas­tair Cook.

This week saw the 31-yearold Cook be­come the youngest player to score 10,000 Test runs when he reached the land­mark in a se­ries-clinch­ing win over Sri Lanka at the River­side.

Cook’s method of pa­tient ac­cu­mu­la­tion is at odds with the mod­ern-day trend for bighit­ting ex­em­pli­fied by the likes of West Indies’ Chris Gayle, Aus­tralia’s David Warner and re­cently-re­tired for­mer New Zealand cap­tain Bren­don McCul­lum.

But Richard­son said left­handed opener Cook’s ap­proach was none the worse for that. “I like the fact he’s not in the Gayle, Warner or McCul­lum mould,” ex­plained Richard­son.

“He’s a more tra­di­tional open­ing bats­man, as we’ve known them to be.” The for­mer South Africa wicket-keeper added: “It’s a good ex­am­ple to young crick­eters that you don’t have to hit ev­ery sec­ond ball out of the park to be suc­cess­ful.”

But while Test cricket re­mains well-re­garded in Eng­land and Aus­tralia, it is strug­gling to main­tain in­ter­est else­where in the world, with some play­ers opt­ing to take part in lu­cra­tive do­mes­tic Twenty20 events in­stead.

The ICC cricket com­mit­tee, who are meet­ing at Lord’s this week, are look­ing at in­tro­duc­ing two di­vi­sions into Test cricket as a way of re­viv­ing in­ter­est.

More day/night Tests, fol­low­ing the suc­cess of the Aus­tralia-New Zealand clash at the Ade­laide Oval in Novem­ber, are also on the agenda.

How­ever, any changes will have to be ap­proved by the full ICC board.

Richard­son cited a re­newed un­der­stand­ing by Test na­tions to pro­vide fix­tures with “con­text” if the “pri­macy of in­ter­na­tional cricket is go­ing to be sus­tained well into the fu­ture”.

He added: “If we want to make sure the best play­ers are play­ing in­ter­na­tional cricket, we have to make sure that our mem­bers are in a po­si­tion to re­ward and in­cen­tivise their play­ers to play all for­mats.

“That boils down to a fund­ing model that pro­vides the mem­bers with the means to do just that.—AFP

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