West Indies pace ace-turned-commentator hails ICC's decision to lift ban before schedule
"I hope he makes a successful return, but if he transgresses again, that should be it." West Indies pace ace-turned-commentator Michael Holding was not among those who frowned at the International Cricket Council's decision to lift the five-year ban on Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir.
Despite the fact that the 22-year-old's ban would expire on September 2, the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) gave him the go-ahead to return to domestic cricket matches held in Pakistan.
Holding, it can be recalled, was close to tears while expressing his despair over Amir's no-balls in the Pakistan vs England Test at Lord's in 2010. In a discussion with former England captains David Gower and Nasser Hussain in the Sky TV box, Holding, said then:
"It just doesn't look good. It wasn't a small no-ball and we have not seen that from him before, but it is so sad, David — an 18-year-old with that sort of talent and then for him to be getting involved in this (spot fixing). I am absolutely sure he didn't go looking for anyone. Someone has dragged him into this. This is so sad," Holding said, holding back his tears.
Fine with me
"I don't have a problem with him being allowed back a bit ahead of the stipulated time for two reasons," Holding told mid-day from South Africa yesterday, where he commentated on the South Africa vs West Indies series.
Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir (centre) waves to the media after addressing a press conference in Lahore, yesterday. Pic: AP/PTI
Holding continued, "Firstly I think he (Amir) was coerced into doing what he did by his captain (Salman Butt) and senior players that he looked up to and at age 18 or 19, with very little exposure to the real world, I can see how he could have been duped.
"Secondly, I have seen criminals who commit much worse crimes than Amir, being given sentences by the courts and not serving the entire time given at the trial. And I think in law, accomplices to a crime usually get a lesser sentence than those who actually organise the crime."
According to a November 11, 2011 Sky Sports report, when Amir's chances of going to jail for six months due to his misdemeanors in the Lord's Test were high, Holding, who was contacted by Amir's lawyers, wrote a letter to the judge urging him to consider Amir's age and future.
"When I was approached by Mohammad Amir's lawyers - because I think they recognised how distressed I was that he was involved in all this at a tender age - they asked me just to write to the judge to say on Mohammad Amir's behalf what I thought of him as a cricketer. Obviously I don't know Mohammad Amir as a person; I was just talking about what I saw in Mohammad Amir as a cricketer and what I thought he could contribute to the game in the future.
That's all I did - I wrote a letter to the judge; I wasn't asking for any leniency for Mohammad Amir. I was just asking the judge to look at the fact that he is such a young man with such talent and someone that the game could use in the future," Holding said then.