There was a kid once. He, like many of his compatriots, came up like a sudden, pleasant stretch of straight on a mountainous road. The peripherals, who-where-how, weren’t important. What mattered was what he made the ball do. This kid, this fresh-faced, John Wick-lite-hairdo kid, with a mental impact on fans that matches the assassin’s, made some of the best hop and weave, leaving them flummoxed.
And then he crossed the line.
Mohammad Amir is a name in cricket. He’s not at the top of the rankings, and even back when he was the kid who brought Michael Holding to tears, he wasn’t tearing up the record books, not in the way of, say, a Steyn or a Lohmann or a Sobers. But his five-year ban, for spot-fixing, broke hearts across the globe. Why, was what everyone seemed to be asking? There was no answer, except greed and naivete and poor (or lack of) guidance.
But this post needn’t be a rehash of that story. No. This is about the Mohammad Amir who turned up at Taunton today, and did this :
Decent, yeah? There’s more. Australia hit 27 fours and 4 sixes today. Only one 4 came off Amir!
Since his return to international cricket on the tour of England in 2015, Amir has had so many catches dropped off his bowling that, if you were to keep a record of them all, you might have been writing about the entirety of both the Carboniferous and Cretaceous eras, which together spanned 139 million years. He didn’t do this to the fielder, but he must have come close.
To compound matters, his average since the beginning of 2018 was more than 100, coming into today’s match. That means, for every wicket he takes, he gives away 100 runs. That’s like catching the cow after it uprooted the post and grazed over the whole farm. Sure you brought the cow home, but what about the carrots? The dropped catches did play their part in the barnstorming, you’d suppose. But still…
Image courtesy : Twitter.
The Amir of today showed, again, why experts and Pakistan management rate him so highly. This is the same guy who took out the best batting trio in the world on his own in the biggest ODI match of many of his teammates’ lives, the match that made sure Sarfaraz Ahmed can talk down all captains of his country from 1993 to 2008. That day, he dismissed the best ODI batsman of this generation twice in two balls, except for a dropped catch (again!) the first time round.
But form waxes and wanes, like the waves of the Arabian Sea in Cyclone Vayu. When Mitchell Starc was caught on the boundary by Shoaib Malik, Amir did the Sajda on the pitch. Apart from the fifer, he might also have been thanking the Almighty for the four caught dismissals. Four catches, all taken. Imagine his relief! He finished with 10-2-30-5, while his fast-bowling colleagues, new and old, together finished with 28-0-181-4. To go at 3 RPO when your colleagues are bleeding at 6.5 on the other end, more than twice better than them all, has to be special. More so when the opposition is aiming for 400, but you ensured that they barely crossed 300.
This match had two of the best pace bowlers on the pitch today, playing for Australia. It also had the guy who, on his own, managed to silence an Australian crowd at the Gabba, playing against these same opponents. But the man whose spell would be talked about in the years to come was that kid from 2010. The kid who’d grown a beard and outgrown the assassin’s look for David Mills’, from Seven. He took his maiden five-for, in a world cup match, against a rampaging opponent. He’d well and truly tied the cow in the barn, even if his teammates ensured the whole herd was let loose on the farm.
Mohammad Amir, take a bow!
Featured image courtesy: Twitter.
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