Arthur on Amir Test retirement: It was on the cards

Mohammad Amir and Mickey Arthur (PA)
Mohammad Amir and Mickey Arthur (PA)

Cape Town - Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur revealed that he always saw fast bowler Mohammad Amir's Test retirement coming for a long while.

Amir's career was significantly hindered after being banned for five years between 2010 and 2015 for his involvement in a spot-fixing scandal, in which he and fellow fast bowler Mohammad Asif were bribed to deliberately bowl no-balls in a Test against England in 2010.

During that time, Amir did not keep himself in shape, something which Arthur believes has attributed to him retiring from red-ball cricket at 27.

Since returning in 2015, Amir has had to manage a heavy workload, especially in recent times in the England and South Africa series, which has taken a toll on his body.

"He (Amir) had five years out of the game. In those five years, he didn't do anything. His body was not up to the rigours of day in, day out Test cricket," Arthur told ESPNCricinfo.

"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," Arthur said.

Having made his Pakistan Test debut at 17, Amir took 51 wickets in 14 Tests at an average of 29.09 before the ban and upon his return claimed 68 wickets in 22 Tests at an average of 31.51.

Arthur believes that if it were not for that ban, Amir would have been one of the most successful fast bowlers in Pakistan cricketing history.

"The Amir hype all those years ago was justified because he is a quality bowler," he said.

"When the ball swings there's not much better but he's not the bowler now that he was in 2009 and 2010. He was different, his body was different.

"But had he not had those five years out of the game, I think he would be up there with the very best Pakistan have ever had," he said.

The South African admitted that the left-arm fast bowler had been mulling over the decision for over a year.

"It was on the cards for a long while. Amir had been speaking to me about it with me for some time now. His Test career was taking a strain on his body," Arthur said.

"It's not about management here. It's about his desire to play Test cricket and the effects it has on his body. reluctantly I accepted his decision because that's what he wanted to do and that's what he thought was best for himself."

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