Kolkata: Mohammed Amir, the prodigal son of Pakistan cricket, knows his stuff when it comes to the art of fast bowling. When he singled out Jasprit Bumrah, the Indian pace warhead who got married recently for special praise, it was a generous one from the man across the border.
‘‘(Jasprit) Bumrah will be right up there in my top three fast bowlers for his success in all formats, the other two being Trent Boult and Kagiso Rabada,’’ said Amir, once considered to be the heir apparent to Wasim Akram, who retired from international cricket last December after a public fallout with the Pakistan cricket management. The left-arm pace bowler, who played a big role in the green shirts winning the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017, said he could not bear the ‘‘mental torture’’ from people like Misbah-ul Haq, then the chief selector and coach or Waqar Younis, their fast bowling coach.
Now only 28 and very much in demand among the T20 franchise leagues, Amir also praised the manner Bumrah was backed by the Indian team management when he came back after his injury. Speaking out in a candid interview with Cricket Pakistan.com, Amir said: ‘‘When Bumrah came back to the side in Australia, he went wicketless for a series of matches. Nobody in the Indian team management said anything about it because they knew he is their matchwinner and would deliver.’’
The dig at his own country’s management was hard to miss and Amir felt that there had been no change even with a new chief selector (Mohammed Wasim) in charge in the manner the squad had been chosen for the South Africa series. ‘‘You give youngsters a chance by all means, but how can you keep someone like Imad Wasim out of the squad. A youngster has to develop through experience and he needs time for that,’’ said Amir.
Commenting about Ishan Kishan, the 22-year-old Indian wicketkeeper-batsman who made sensational debut with a free-stroking half-century against England in the just-concluded T20 series, Amir said it did not happen overnight. ‘‘It had taken him at least three seasons in the IPL and as many seasons in domestic cricket to have no fears on the big stage,’’ said Amir.
Drawing a parallel between the way countries handle the load management for their fast bowlers, the owner of 119 Test wickets from only 36 Tests pointed out that for Australia, one would never see bowlers like Mitchell Starc or Pat Cummins playing in all their white ball matches after Tests. ‘‘In India, you will have bowlers like Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami in Tests while different names in the ODIs or T20s. Rotational system is very important because of the amount of cricket being played now,’’ he said.
‘‘In Pakistan, you see someone like Shaheen Afridi - our best fast bowler at the moment - playing on and on in all the formats,’’ Amir said.
On a different note, who are the batsmen who have troubled him in international cricket? Amir named an usual trio to whom he found it difficult to bowl - Australia’s Shane Watson, Steve Smith and England’s Jonathan Trott.
“Shane Watson used to trouble me during the early part of my career in 2009. He was at his peak at that time. He used to hit me all around the park. Even though I got him out several times, but I used to find him difficult. Another one will be Jonathan Trott, as I couldn’t figure out where to bowl him in the Tests. In recent days, I find it difficult to bowl to Steven Smith because of his awkward technique,” Amir added.