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Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir celebrates after taking the wicket of New Zealand’s Martin Guptill during their ICC World Cup match in England recently. The fast bowler announced his retirement from Test cricket Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Pakistan’s left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir, whose career has been a roller-coaster ride, announced his retirement from Test cricket in his 20s. Amir’s retirement decision at the age of 27 years and 104 days has stunned Pakistan cricket as his Test career that began from July 2009 against Sri Lanka, lasted only 10 years. During this span, he played in 36 Test matches and took 119 wickets. His last Test was against South Africa at Johannesburg in January 2019.

Amir could reverse the ball brilliantly like Pakistan’s legendary pacer Wasim Akram did and thus could shock world-class batsmen. He was picked by Akram himself from a pace camp in Lahore in May 2007. By 2009, at the age of 17, he made his Test debut and an year after he won international acclaim as one of the best left-arm pacers in the game. While announcing his retirement, Amir said that he has taken the decision to quit in order to focus on white-ball cricket and will be available for selection for one-day internationals and Twenty20 Internationals. “It has been an honour to represent Pakistan in the pinnacle and traditional format of the game,” he said in a statement to Pakistan Cricket Board.

“I, however, have decided to move away from the longer version so I can concentrate on white-ball cricket. Playing for Pakistan remains my ultimate desire and objective, and I will try my best to be in the best physical shape to contribute in the team’s upcoming challenges, including next year’s ICC T20 World Cup.”

Amir, who has the ability to run through any batting line up, was banned for five years for his part in the 2011 Lord’s fixing scandal. He returned after his ban in 2016 but slipped into bad form after helping his side win the 2017 Champions Trophy through a deadly spell of 3 for 16 against India in the final at the Oval. Amir was once the youngest Test cricketer to produce great spells. In 2010 in the Oval Test against England, at the age of 18, he became the youngest cricketer to take five wickets in a Test match in England which included the wickets of Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior. In the same series he produced a deadly spell of 6 for 84 at the historic Lord’s ground.

No one will ever forget his deadly spell like the 5 for 79 against Australia in 2009 at Melbourne and the 6 for 44 against West Indies in 2017 at Sabina Park.

Amir was in such poor form that many feared he may not be picked for the recent World Cup but comments from Akram, who felt that Amir is still the best pacer in Pakistan, helped. Though Amir bowled well in the World Cup, taking 17 wickets at an average of 21.05, he feels he still needs to be in best physical shape for next year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. In his last Test match against South Africa he had a four wicket match haul. Amir tweeted his retirement decision to all the Pakistan greats: “Thank you PCB, our PM @ImranKhanPTI @wasimakramlive bhi @SAfridiOfficial bhi @waqyounis99 & @yousaf1788. Thank you and my fans for always supporting me and I hope you all will support my this decision.”

Had Amir not allowed his career to sink and receive a ban, he may probably have been among the top wickets takers in Test cricket today.