Pakistan cricketer Amir named among T20 probables after retirement U-turn

The fast bowler has come out of retirement and made himself available for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup.

Pakistan bowler Mohammad Amir celebrates the dismissal of India's Shikhar Dhawan during the ICC Champions Trophy final at The Oval in London, Sunday, June 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Mohammad Amir played a key role in Pakistan's triumphant run at the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy in England [File: Alastair Grant/AP]

Fast bowler Mohammad Amir has been included in Pakistan’s group of 29 cricketers who will undergo training at the country’s military base ahead of the 2024 ICC Twenty20 World Cup in June.

Amir’s inclusion comes a day after he came out of retirement and after the country’s cricket board announced changes to its selection process which made him feel “needed”.

The left-arm bowler announced his international retirement at the age of 28 in December 2020, saying he could no longer play under the then-management and that he was being “tortured mentally”.

“I still dream to play for Pakistan! Life brings us to the points where at times we have to reconsider our decisions,” he wrote on Sunday on social media platform X.

After “positive” talks with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials, he said the PCB made him feel “that I was needed and can still play for Pakistan”.

“I declare I am available to be considered for upcoming T20WC,” the 31-year-old added.

Amir’s precocious, stop-start career was halted in 2010 after he, along with then-Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and fellow pacer Mohammad Asif, were banned for five years over a spot fixing scandal. All three were also jailed by a British court.

Amir returned to play for Pakistan in 2016. He has represented Pakistan in 36 Tests, 61 ODIs and 50 T20Is.

His international wicket haul stands at 259, with 59 coming in the game’s shortest format. As a teenager, he was part of Pakistan’s T20 World Cup winning squad in 2009. Eight years later, he played a key role in Pakistan’s triumphant run at the 2017 Champions Trophy in England.

Amir’s announcement came a day after all-rounder Imad Wasim reversed his own decision to retire four months ago and made himself available to play in this year’s World Cup. Wasim was also named in the squad announced on Monday.

Changes in selection panel

Earlier on Sunday, newly elected PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi announced a seven-member selection panel, making the captain and head coach part of the process.

“We have reorganised the selection committee with seven members but the different thing is that there will be no chairman,” Naqvi told a press conference, adding that each member would have “equal powers”.

Former captain Mohammad Yousuf, Wahab Riaz, Abdul Razzaq and Asad Shafiq – all of whom played for Pakistan – will be joined by the current captain, the head coach and a data analyst.

Pakistan are without a head coach following their disastrous World Cup (50 overs) in India last year where they failed to qualify for the semifinals.

Afterwards Babar Azam stepped down from captaincy of all formats and was replaced by Shan Masood as Test captain and Shaheen Shah Afridi as T20I captain.

The then-head coach Mickey Arthur was replaced by team director Mohammad Hafeez under whom Pakistan suffered a 3-0 Test whitewash in Australia and a 4-1 series defeat in a T20I series in New Zealand.

Naqvi on Sunday left open whether Shaheen will be retained as captain, saying the selection committee will make a final decision on its T20I captain after the training camp.

The chairman also announced the restoration of a central contract for fast bowler Haris Rauf, who was suspended last month after he refused to play Tests in Australia.

“Rauf has stated that there was some misunderstanding so we have restored his central contract,” said Naqvi.

Pakistan will play five T20Is against New Zealand at home followed by two in Ireland and four in England before featuring in the T20 World Cup, where they will kick off their campaign against co-hosts United States on June 6. They will then face neighbours India in New York on June 9, before their final group match against Canada on June 11.

The players named for the training camp are: Aamir Jamal, Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Haseebullah, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Irfan Khan, Mehran Mumtaz, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Sahibzada Farhan, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Saud Shakeel, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usama Mir, Usman Khan and Zaman Khan.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies