Did spot-fixing rob us of the greatest bowler ever?
With the test series between Pakistan and England underway, it occurs to me that the last time these two sides met in the longer format of the game it ended in uproar and scandal. Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt have both been banned by the ICC for spot-fixing offences, but it is the name Mohammad Aamer which will no longer be remembered, or certainly not in a positive context. Asif and Butt had already had good careers and achieved as much as they were likely too- Asif having once been ranked the second best bowler in the world, but Aamer was so young and tragically, so talented. He, like Asif and Butt, also received a lengthy ban from the ICC, perhaps ruining what could have been an incredible career.
My first memory of Mohammad Aamer was watching him in the World T20 competition in May 2010, where he bowled a 5 wicket maiden in the last over of the game against Australia. Because he was a left armer, he already caused problems to the right-handed batsmen with the angle going across them and forcing them to play at balls they didn’t want too. Combine this with the accuracy and pace with which he was bowling and you began to appreciate the danger he posed. Then add in the fact that at the time he was only 17. It was truly remarkable that a bowler carried all these traits at such a young age.
His bowling was thrilling to watch, particularly in test match cricket, as he was able to swing the ball both ways. He bowled an incredible over against Shane Watson, where he left him completely dumbfounded as the ball swung back and knocked off his bails. As a young left-armer playing for Pakistan, the comparison between him and Wasim Akram was inevitable, but Akram even said that at the same age he was no where near as good as Aamer.
It is a shame for Pakistan fans and fans of cricket as a sport that Aamer had to bowl that fateful no ball, as he was surely destined for greatness. It is unlikely that we will ever see Mohammad Aamer with a cricket ball in his hand again. Would he have been the greatest?