“I don’t think I can bear such torture. Enough is enough,” he says
Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir has retired from international cricket, the PCB has confirmed. Amir represented Pakistan in 36 Tests, 61 ODIs and 50 T20Is, and recently played in the inaugural Lanka Premier League for runners-up Galle Gladiators.
“Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan spoke with Mohammad Amir this afternoon following reports that the fast bowler had announced his retirement from international cricket. The 28-year-old confirmed to the PCB chief executive that he has no desires or intensions of playing international cricket and as such, he should not be considered for future international matches,” a PCB statement said. “This is a personal decision of Mohammad Amir, which the PCB respects, and as such, will not make any further comment on this matter at this stage.”
The statement serves as another reminder of the extent to which relations between Amir and the current team management have broken down. It came off the back of an interview he gave to Samaa TV earlier on Thursday, in which Amir claimed he had been “mentally tortured” by the team management, taunted frequently and was being deliberately sidelined by them.
“I am leaving cricket for now because I’m being mentally tortured. I don’t think I can bear such torture. I’ve borne lots of torture from 2010 to 2015, for which I served my time. I’ve been tortured by being told the PCB invested a lot in me. I’ll just say two people invested in me a lot: [former PCB chairman] Najam Sethi and [former Pakistan captain] Shahid Afridi.
“They were the only two. The rest of the team was saying, ‘we don’t want to play with Amir’. Recently, the atmosphere that’s been created means I get taunted all the time by being told I don’t want to play for my country. Who doesn’t want to play for their country? Every two months, someone says something against me. Sometimes the bowling coach [Waqar Younis] says Amir ditched us, sometimes I’m told my workload is unsatisfactory. Enough is enough.”
Discontent had been simmering for a while before finally coming to a head on Thursday. Amir, who retired from Test cricket last year, had found himself excluded from the PCB’s list of central contracts earlier this year, and omitted from Pakistan’s 35-man squad to New Zealand last month.
Upon that squad announcement, Amir said on Twitter “only Misbah” could explain why he hadn’t been included, before criticising bowling coach Waqar Younis for talking about his workload. That, coupled by Amir’s frequent praise of former Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur, at one point saying he would “love to play under Arthur for any side in the world”, offered insight into how he viewed his relations with the current coaching staff. That he singled Sethi out for praise in his statement is unlikely to have played too well in front of his successor Ehsan Mani or CEO Wasim Khan, further condemning Amir to international exclusion.
The 28-year old is still widely sought after in T20 leagues around the world, which his complete international retirement should allow more time for. Though his specific attacks on this management suggests he would be open o a return should things at the board change, for now Amir appears to have put to bed a tumultuous international career that appeared to have been sabotaged just as it began in 2010, before a promising second coming following a five-year ban that ended up fizzling out.
Even so, the highs Amir enjoyed in a curtailed international career would exceed most complete careers. Bursting onto the international scene in 2009, he played a pivotal part in the 2009 T20 World Cup final against Sri Lanka, dismissing Player of the Tournament Tillakaratne Dilshan in the first over as Pakistan clinched the title. He would go on to take five wickets in the Boxing Day Test later that year, and continued to torment Australia in England in 2010, taking seven wickets at Leeds as Australia were skittled out for a first innings 88, and Pakistan won their first Test against that opposition in 15 years. Five wickets at Lord’s against England were next before the spot-fixing scandal erupted.
Following his comeback, he was never quite at that scintillating best, though glimpses of that outrageous talent were obvious from time to time. The spell with the new ball in the 2017 Champions Trophy final may be his most famous, as he removed Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan to set up a romping 180-run win. Largely, however, he had reinvented himself as more a white-ball specialist than an out-and-out swing bowler, affording him more opportunities to play in T20 leagues across the world.
Amir last played for Pakistan in the T20Is in England in August this year. He ends his international career with 259 wickets – 119 in Tests, 81 in ODIs and 59 in T20Is.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000