Pakistan cricket never ceases to surprise and neither do their cricketers. Mohammad Amir, the Pakistani fast bowling superstar, shocked the cricketing world by suddenly announcing his retirement from Test cricket.
Amir was an integral part of Pakistan’s World Cup 2019 campaign recently and ended up as one of the highest wicket-takers in the tourney with 17 wickets in 8 games. After an average last two years, his performance in the World Cup in England was being seen as his big return to international cricket. Hence, it came as a big shock that the bowler chose to bid adieu to the longest format where he could have really excelled in the coming years given his skills and form.
The 27-year-old Amir had played 36 Tests only thus far, picking up 119 wickets at an average of 30.47 with 4 five-wicket hauls. This is the age when most fast bowlers attain their peak. Amir, who had been banned for five years for spot-fixing early in his career, appeared to be just coming into his groove and could have made a huge impact for Pakistan in Test cricket in the next 4-5 years. That won’t now be, unfortunately, as apparently the bowler wants to focus on white ball cricket and extend his career in those formats.
Amir’s decision to retire from Test cricket has not been received well by Pakistani fans and former Pakistani greats. Wasim Akram, one of the great fast bowlers of all time and one of the legends of Pakistan cricket, came down heavily on Amir for opting to let go of his Test career.
“To me Mohammad Amir retiring from Test cricket is a bit surprising because you peak at 27-28 and Test cricket is where you are judged against the best, it’s the ultimate format. Pakistan will need him in two Tests in Australia and then three in England,” Akram wrote in a tweet recently.
Another Pakistani speed legend, Shoaib Akhtar, too wasn’t impressed by Amir’s Test retirement call. He felt that Test cricket is the ultimate for any cricketer and Amir was way too young to call it quits on the format at this point.
Amir, on his part, has maintained a stoic silence. It is clear that he has made up his mind and will only be focusing on the shorter formats now. With a plethora of T20 leagues springing up all over the world and offering insane amounts of money to cricketers, he might have been tempted to remain fit enough to be able to participate in all of them. Test cricket is more demanding and requires a different level of fitness, especially from fast bowlers. And with the World T20 coming up next year, Amir might have thought it better to devote his energies only on the shorter formats.
Regardless, this decision is pretty surprising and will take some time to digest. Yes, Amir had lost form in Test cricket but it takes only series to get that form back. With his ability to swing the ball at pace and bring the ball in sharply, he could have been a menace in England and Australia. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Mohammad Amir’s magic in Test cricket again and the longest format of the game would certainly miss the gifted bowler’s exploits.