Mohammad Aamer should not be shown leniency due to talent

Despite getting a five-year ban for spot-fixing, Mohammad Aamer said he was eager to start playing cricket for Pakistan as soon as possible © Getty Images

By Muhammad Asif Khan

From the moment the News of the World published the spot-fixing story, the cricketing world, it seemed, was taken by storm. A large number of Pakistani cricket fanatics went about expressing soft sentiments for the young Mohammad Aamer and each had their own argument.

The majority seem to converge on two points:

(A) He is exceptionally talented

(B) He is very young and has a good amount of cricket stamina left in him

This school of thought seems to believe that the young fast bowler should be given a second chance to play sooner than the expiration of the five-year ban imposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Fans are fans and they will always want to see their heroes in action, at any cost, so they can’t be blamed for their emotions, but the authorities that are administering the game have a greater responsibility. Their role should be to refrain from transmitting a one-sided opinion. If a cricket board chief hints of having a soft corner for a player then it should not be appreciated — no bias should.

The above mentioned points that are playing their role in seeing Aamer’s early return to the field are not persuasive enough. The author disagrees with statements like ‘he is very young and was trapped’ simply because he was not young enough in terms of the experience he carried under his belt. Before the infamous Lord’s Test, Aamer had played a fair amount of cricket and was taught the rules and regulations by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

My question to everyone is — what if Aamer was not exceptionally talented? Would your reaction have still been the same?

By incessantly talking about Aamer’s return, Pakistan cricket authorities are indicating to the world that we are probably short of talent in the country or willing to compromise ethics for cricketing gains. What this does, combined with our previous indiscretions, is raise questions about whether talent is the only decisive factor when considering the fate of a player involved in malpractice.

Aamer mentioned in his first interview to Sky News that since he was ‘not used to bowling no-balls’ he had to practice rigorously before he was able to make those notorious deliveries at Lord’s. His track record suggests the same — 14 Tests and 24 no-balls — but what happened in his seventh Test match where he over-stepped 13 times is glaring evidence.

Aamer was seen talking on his mobile phone during a domestic match in Pakistan and was also penalised. Therefore, describing him as purely innocent and only a victim of the trap allegedly set by former skipper Salman Butt and the others, is not an argument which is easy to digest.

When he stated that a man named ‘Ali’ blackmailed him — he was probably right but then he (Aamer) must have done something before the England tour due to which Mazhar Majeed was able to blackmail him as well. Who knows if his seventh Test — against Australia — was the starting point of the relationship between Aamer and the spot-fixing gang?

If the environment is deliberately being painted in Aamer’s favour then this shows that in Pakistan, there is a shortage of talent and there is a belief that there is an absence of another Aamer present in the entire country or the nation doesn’t want Aamer to open up any further so that any other possible culprits can remain unharmed.

If, at the end of the day, the PCB or the ICC wants to sweep the game of cricket from corruption once and for all, then the ‘zero-tolerance’ motto must be implemented in its true letter and spirit.

(Muhammad Asif Khan is head of sports section at News One TV and a TV show host of ‘Sports One.’ He has also worked with Business Plus and Indus TV. He tweets @twitter.com/mak_asif. The above article has been produced with permission from http://tribune.com.pk/)