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Andrew Alderson: Amir entitled to second chance

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Mohammad Amir, one of cricket's finest emerging pace bowlers, made his mistake. Photo / AP
Mohammad Amir, one of cricket's finest emerging pace bowlers, made his mistake. Photo / AP

Who's never made a mistake they regretted as an 18-year-old?

If your hand's up, you're either a saint, ineligible to vote, or you're adopting the Mother Of All Budgets with the truth.

Mohammad Amir, one of cricket's finest emerging pace bowlers, made his mistake. He cheated with two older and more experienced cronies, and his moral code was corrupted on a global scale.

The News of the World sting, which saw him, teammate Mohammad Asif and captain Salman Butt go to prison for spot-fixing in February 2011, has tainted Amir forever.

Selected as a 17-year-old against Sri Lanka in 2009, he was the youngest player to take 50 test wickets, scything through England using conventional and reverse swing. He was the man of that tainted series before evidence emerged of him no-balling by Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks' proportions at Lord's -- he took six for 84 in the innings.

Mohammad Amir named in Pakistan squad

Amir served a five-year ban from cricket and three months in jail. The International Cricket Council has approved his return. He deserves that second chance.

Since Amir's ban, he has excelled in domestic first-class cricket (16 wickets at 14.87 in four matches) and the Bangladesh Premier League (14 wickets at 12.64 in nine matches). As Pakistan chief selector Haroon Rasheed admitted: "We are not undermining other players ... but there is always a difference between normal and extraordinary players."

Last month Amir joined a 26-man conditioning camp in Lahore. Each squad member is understood to have signed a bond guaranteeing no quibbles with his selection.

The next generation can learn from Amir's experience. How was he approached? What factors beyond money made him think it was a viable option? Why did he lack the maturity to deflect such pressure?

Some argue Amir must be tossed on the scrap heap because myriad lads toil in the streets like he did, aching for the life he was given when plucked by an academy.

Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja made a compelling case for Amir's ban, as someone who lived and played through similar fixing shenanigans in the 1990s.

On Cricinfo he wrote of "pangs of betrayal". "When a bunch of rogues you share the dressing room with are fighting tooth and nail to lose a match, it kills your desire to play the game, and whips up a desire to kill them."

He had no problem with Amir's rehabilitation, provided it was done outside the game he sullied.

Such piety is understandable if you've directly experienced those actions, but Amir was not the operation mastermind and may have faced threats.

Let's trust him to redeem his career. If he breaches that, he's gone for life.

- NZ Herald

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Covers sport across NZME's print, digital and radio brands.

Andrew writes and broadcasts on cricket and the Olympic disciplines for NZME's print, digital, video and radio platforms. His most recent project followed New Zealand sportspeople competing in Europe during the 2015 northern summer. He has attended four cricket World Cups, three Olympics and regularly works as a correspondent overseas.

Read more by Andrew Alderson

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