Pakistan is all set to announce their ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 squad in the coming days. Before the tournament, the team will play five ODIs against England and also some games in Ireland as part of the warm-up for the tournament that will begin on May 30. However, before the squad is announced on April 18, the comments by Sarfraz Ahmed, the skipper of the team on strike bowler Mohammad Amir has resulted in some controversy. Sarfraz has expressed his concern that Amir, who was the star of Pakistan’s ICC Champions Trophy triumph in June 2017, is down on pace and is not able to swing the ball.
In an interview to a local Pakistan website, Sarfraz said. “When your strike bowler is not taking a wicket, it is a worrisome sign. His pace and swing have also reduced. We can only pray that his form returns.” The left-arm bowler, who has played 36 Tests, 50 ODIs and 43 T20 Internationals, has picked up only 14 wickets since the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017. According to sources within the Pakistan Cricket Board, bowling coach Azhar Mahmood and head coach Mickey Arthur had lost faith in Amir.
“Arthur has backed Amir all through this time but with more pace options available now, he is having second thoughts about reposing faith in Amir in the big event,” the source added.
This is not the first time that Amir and Sarfraz have been at loggerheads. During the recent series against South Africa which Pakistan lost, Amir, who had picked up 2/36 was miffed and he walked out of the press conference. It was about the comments made by Sarfraz, the Pakistan skipper about the bowlers following defeat in the Cape Town Test which angered Amir. “Please leave this question. Leave this question. Are we done?” Following the tense exchange, Amir walked out.
The anger from Amir stemmed from the comment made by Sarfraz during the post-match press conference where he blamed the bowlers for the team’s defeat. “Our bowling was not up to the mark. Our bowling average speed was 130 (kilometers an hour), South Africa was bowling at 145. Our bowling was far better (in the first Test) in Centurion,” Sarfraz said. The comments did not go down well with the bowling unit, with one Pakistan Television channel stating that the bowling unit was miffed with the captain’s comment.
Pakistan was recently whitewashed 0-5 by Australia in the UAE and Amir featured in only one match where he failed to take a wicket and was hit for 59 runs in his nine overs. He was not picked for the rest of the series and these comments will only add to the distraction that Pakistan is encountering before their World Cup encounter on June 1 against West Indies in Trent Bridge.