‘We tried everything we could’ – Mickey Arthur not surprised at Mohammad Amir’s Test retirement
Mohammad Amir played the last of his 36 Tests in January 2019. © AFP

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has said he was not alarmed to find out that Mohammad Amir had decided to quit Test cricket.

At the of 27, fast bowler Amir announced his retirement from Test cricket last week to bring an end to a career that brought him 119 wickets an 30.47 apiece from 36 matches separated by a five-year ban for spot-fixing.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo on Monday, Arthur revealed that Amir had been mulling the decision for over a year and that the Pakistan team management looked at ways to lessen the pacer’s workload, which included the idea of using him only in matches away from the UAE, which has been Pakistan’s home base since the 2009 Lahore terror attack.

(READAmir will have to play domestic cricket to qualify for national selection)

“It was on the cards for a long while,” said Arthur. “Amir had been speaking to me about it with me for some time now. His Test career was taking a strain on his body.

Mohammad Amir World Cup wickets
Mohammad Amir enjoyed success at the World Cup. (Image: Twitter/@bbctms)

“It’s not about management here. It’s about his desire to play Test cricket and the effects it has on his body. 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.”

(READ: Wasim, Shoaib not pleased with Mohammad Amir’s Test retirement)

Since his sentence was lifted in 2015 and he made his return to international cricket in early 2016, Amir was not the same bowler in Tests and his 22 appearances since 2016 yielded 68 wickets at an average of 31.51 with one five-wicket haul.

In Arthur’s estimation, Amir’s workload could have been managed if he indeed had been sat out of Pakistan’s Test series in the UAE. in four Test matches played in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, Amir managed seven wickets at 56.42 apiece while striking every 118 deliveries. These statistics gave credence to the notion that playing him in the UAE was not beneficial, and that Amir be used only in overseas Tests.

(READ: Mickey Arthur has contributed nothing to Pakistan cricket: Abdul Qadir)

“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,” said Arthur.

The South African – whose tenure as Pakistan coach remains in doubt after the World Cup – also felt that Amir could have treated his body better in the five years he was out of cricket.

“He could have managed those five years better. He’d be the first one to acknowledge that,” said Arthur. “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.

“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.”