Arthur expects rejuvenated Amir to shine in white-ball formats

KARACHI: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur sees a silver lining in Mohammad Amir’s decision to retire from Test cricket. Arthur believes that with his workload eased, the left-arm pacer could deliver the goods for Pakistan in limited-overs cricket.“It was on the cards for a long while,” Arthur told Cricinfo in an interview regarding Amir’s recent decision to quit Test cricket. “Amir had been speaking to me about it with me for some time now. His Test career was taking a strain on his body. It’s not about management here. It’s about his desire to play Test cricket and the effects it has on his body. I think Amir’s an unbelievable bowler and reluctantly I accepted his decision because that’s what he wanted to do and that’s what he thought was best for himself. What it does do is give us a white-ball bowler that I think we can get a longer period from.”Arthur acknowledged he would have “loved for Amir to stay on”, but conceded the fast bowler’s “mind and body weren’t in the format anymore”. In an interview, Amir had suggested he might cut back on Tests as early as last year, but Arthur believed the real damage had been done when he was banned for five years for spot-fixing in 2010. In that period, by Amir’s own admission, he didn’t prepare himself for returning to international cricket, which meant he was ill-equipped for the workload that would be thrown his way after five years of indolence.“He had five years out of the game, we mustn’t forget that. In those five years, he didn’t do anything. His body was not up to the rigours of day in, day out Test cricket. We pushed him as much as we could during the England and South Africa series, because he is such a good bowler whom we wanted during those tours. We’ve tried everything we possibly could with Amir.“He could have managed those five years better. He’d be the first one to acknowledge that. But I understand where he was in his whole life, so it was a tough period for him. I understand all that. I’ve got a very soft spot for Mohammad Amir. As a person and as a cricketer, I admire him greatly. Yes, I am disappointed he won’t be playing Test cricket for us. But it was made in the best interests of his white-ball cricket in mind.”Amir had been fading in limited-overs cricket since the 2017 Champions Trophy, having gone 13 consecutive ODIs without a wicket in the first Powerplay. But his reputation saw him sneak into the World Cup squad at the last minute, and there, he was a different cricketer once more, finishing as the most prolific Pakistan bowler at the tournament with 17 wickets, which only six bowlers bettered. It is that big-match temperament that has Arthur licking his lips.“We get a white-ball bowler who’s going to be rejuvenated, refreshed, and with a T20 World Cup just around the corner, in 18 months’ time we’ve got a potential match-winner because we know he performs on the big stage. Like every other player who plays for Pakistan, he’s going to need to put in match-winning performances. But he’ll certainly get the opportunity to do that, and he will start in our white-ball cricket,” he said. —with inputs from agencies

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