Cape Town - The entire cricketing world is going crazy over Mohammad Amir’s return to international cricket after he was suspended for five years when he was found guilty of spot-fixing in 2010.
If you’re unfamiliar with the scenario: In 2010, Amir, who was 18 at the time, was asked by then Pakistan captain Salman Butt, along with fast bowler Mohammad Asif, to bowl no balls in the fourth Test at Lords. The three were found guilty with Amir barred from the game for five years and sentenced to six months in prison.
Fast forward to Friday (July 15, 2016), where Amir will bowl his first ball of Test cricket since the infamous sport-fixing scandal against the same opposition at the same ground.
Many former and current cricketers are sharing contrasting opinions concerning Amir’s return: England skipper Alistair Cook, who played in the 2010 game, said that players like Amir should be receiving life-bans.
Cook’s not alone, as former England batsman Kevin Pietersen and South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher have both agreed with life-bans for those who fix games.
However other players, such as former England skipper Mike Atherton argues that Amir deserved more sympathy considering he was 18 when he was banned and the 'Little Master' himself Sachin Tendulkar eluded to the fact that he has served his sentence and he should continue to play.
What Amir did was unforgivable and completely unjust to the sporting world (let alone the game), however considering that he was impressionable at that time and his skipper took advantage of that does bring the sympathetic element to Amir’s case.
At 18, your captain comes over to you (a man you indubitable look up to) and he tells you to bowl a no ball or else your position in the team could be compromised - you’re going to bowl that no ball.
Despite everything, this should be the last time any cricketer should get off easy for getting involved with match-fixing, it’s iniquitous for a player to continue playing a game that some struggle to break into internationally while others try to uphold the reputation of the game.
I believe cheaters should be banned, there’s no point in watching or playing a game when others have planned it for their crooked gain.
Amir was given the ‘benefit of the doubt’ because he was naive and although it’s partially true, he knew what he was getting himself into whether he was intimidated or not. And for that, no one should receive a more lenient sentence than he, Asif or Butt had.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) should implement a more vigorous punishment for those who cheat, because this is not sending a good message to future generations.
No matter what he does for the rest of his career, he’ll always be plagued by his doings that occurred in 2010, similar to how Hansie Cronje will always be known as that South African skipper who got caught match-fixing.