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In exclusive remarks to PakPassion.net, Basit Ali clearly came out on the side of the young man, stating his belief that the 20-year old left-armer was a changed person and deserved a second chance and that the ICC should consider a reduction in his ban.

 by Salaar Shamsi

9th September 2012

It is perhaps a “sign of the times” that the famed fast bowling reserves have dwindled to the point that the Pakistani team management is regularly having to depend on spin as means of attack against opposition batting line ups. The persistent lack of genuine fast bowlers may have been masked by some fantastic successes on “home soil” but it is generally accepted that the current crop of pacemen are neither highly effective nor consistent, leaving the team depending on the spin wizardry of Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez and Abdul Rehman for success.

However, as recent as August 2010, this wasn’t really a problem for Pakistan. Blessed with prodigious talent, a young man from Pakistan was busy setting headline alight with some incredible feats with the ball. Mohammed Amir was assisted by another wily customer in the shape of Mohammed Asif, with the two fast bowlers represented Pakistani pace attack for a good few years to come and whilst there was also angst about the future of fast bowling, it was expected that there was enough time to groom fresh talent. In Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, Pakistan had handpicked, developed and shortlisted two incredible bowlers who could devastate any batting lineup on their day. Amir, in particular, drew comparisons to Wasim Akram and many believed Amir was well ahead of Akram, when the former captain was at his age.

On the 29th of August 2010, the News of the World published an expose which pretty much ended this golden era. Three Pakistani players (Butt, Amir and Asif) were implicated in a spot fixing scandal and later convicted by the courts, with the ICC stepping in with bans for each of the players. In one fell swoop, Pakistan thus lost its natural replacements to the era of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. 

Mohammed Amir, unlike Asif, has not appealed to the International Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) against the 5-year ban handed to him by the International Cricket Council (ICC). He seems to have decided to take a different route to redemption by pleading guilty and asking for the nation's forgiveness. Whilst opinion on his guilt and rehabilitation has bitterly divided fans and observers, he has managed to garner some support mainly from the ex-player community who seem to have a soft corner for the young man.

If terms of a helping hand towards a possible return to competitive cricket, Mohammed Amir can look no further than the outspoken former Test cricketer from Karachi - Basit Ali. In exclusive remarks to PakPassion.net, Basit Ali clearly came out on the side of the young man, stating his belief that the 20-year old left-armer was a changed person and deserved a second chance and that the ICC should consider a reduction in his ban.

"I have talked to Amir recently and he is a completely changed person now. He has accepted his wrong doings and got the punishment (for spot-fixing) by serving his time in jail and away from cricket. I appeal to the ICC to look into his matter and reduce his ban. He made mistakes and he has already stated everything about it. I feel he should get the benefit of doubt as he was a teenager and the ICC should help him. I have no doubt in my mind that Amir will come back and will play for Pakistan and will come back as a better bowler and better person."

Basit, who scored 858 runs in 19 Tests at an average of 26.81, claimed he was alarmed by Pakistan's depleted fast bowling resources and believed it was imperative for Pakistan to knock on any door that would help reducing Amir's ban.

"Everybody makes mistakes in their lives and Amir is no different. The thing which pleases me is that Amir has realised that he made mistakes and has apologized a number of times. I would urge PCB Chairamn Zaka Ashraf to take his case to the ICC and to try and help him by getting his ban reduced. Zaka Ashraf has already done lots of good things for Pakistani cricket and he would do a lot of favour to Pakistan cricket if he somehow can bring Amir back to play for Pakistan, sooner rather than later," Basit concluded.

The 5-year ban imposed by the ICC Tribunal in 2011 in Qatar is due to end in February 2016.