Keen to put the past behind him after being included in the Pakistan limited-overs squad, left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir said he is physically and mentally ready for a comeback to international cricket.
Pakistan Cricket Board included Amir in the ODI and T20 squads for the away series against New Zealand, giving him a lifeline to make amends for his spot-fixing act in 2010. Amir though admitted that making a comeback against an aggressive Kiwi outfit will not be easy.
“If I get a chance to play in New Zealand it will not be easy bowling to this (changed) approach but mentally I am prepared for a hard comeback,” Amir told PTI.
Knowing the divide in Pakistan cricket regarding his international return, Amir, whose visa process also remains uncertain with the team leaving for New Zealand on January 10, admits that winning back the favour of one and all will not be easy.
“One thing is clear to me I will have to perform really well to win back the confidence of my fans. I am sure they are behind me and I will not let them down,” the 23-year old said.
A PCB official said legal information with regard to Amir’s conviction and departure from the United Kingdom has been submitted with the New Zealand consulate. The official also informed that if response is positive than Amir’s visa application will be filed with the consulate when it reopens after Christmas and New Year holidays on Monday.
Amir, who served a five-year ban and jail time for indulging in spot-fixing during the 2010 tour of England, also admitted that he has been lucky to get a second chance in the game and understands the feelings of his critics.
“I feel bad because of their (critics) strong comments, but it is their opinion the best I can do is repay the faith and support those who feel I should get another chance to play again for Pakistan have shown in me,” he said.
Amir’s spot fixing ban expired last September but the ICC gave him special permission to resume playing domestic cricket earlier in April 2015.
“I know cricket especially ODIs and T20s have undergone changes and the attitude of batsmen is very different now. So it is going to be a big challenge getting back into this mould. But the good thing is that I have followed cricket and other teams closely in the last one year,” he said.
Last week Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali left a training camp in protest against Amir attending it but PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan than stepped in to sort out the matter.
Amir said he has had detailed discussions with Hafeez and Azhar and other players in the team and tried his best to tell them that he was repentant for what he had done and was a reformed person now.
“It was very emotional talking to them but it was necessary. The team management has encouraged me they will do their best to help me settle back in the team,” he said.
Amir said national T20 captain Shahid Afridi had been a source of great support for him and had advised him like an elder brother.
“It is very clear to me what I did five years back is simply not acceptable but I am grateful to Allah for giving me another chance to redeem myself,” he said.
The pacer also said he was ready to face taunts and harsh remarks on and off the grounds.
“All I can do is bowl well and take wickets.”
Pakistan will play three Twenty20s and as many one-day internationals in New Zealand later this month.