'I feel needed': Pakistan's Amir out of international retirement

LAHORE: Fast bowler Mohammad Amir announced Sunday he was coming out of retirement and available for this year's Twenty20 World Cup, after Pakistan announced changes to its selection process which made him feel "needed."

Amir's precocious, stop-start career was halted in 2010 after he along with then-Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and fellow pacer Mohammad Asif were banned for five years over a spot fixing scandal.

All three were also jailed by a UK court.

Amir returned to play for Pakistan in 2016 but announced a shock retirement in December 2020 after he was not selected due to poor form.

"I still dream to play for Pakistan! Life brings us to the points where at times we have to reconsider our decisions," Amir wrote on Sunday on social media platform X.

After "positive" talks with Pakistan Cricket Board officials, he said the PCB made him feel "that I was needed and can still play for Pakistan."

"I declare I am available to be considered for upcoming T20WC," the 31-year-old added.

The World Cup will be held in the United States and the West Indies in June.

Amir has represented Pakistan in 36 Tests, 61 ODIs and 50 T20Is.

His international wicket haul stands at 259, with 59 coming in the game's shortest format.

Amir's experience would be vital for a team whose spearhead and skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi is struggling for form and Naseem Shah has only recently returned after missing the 50-over World Cup with injury.

His announcement came a day after all-rounder Imad Wasim reversed his own decision to retire four months ago and made himself available to play in this year's World Cup.

Earlier on Sunday, newly elected PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi announced a seven-member selection panel, making the captain and head coach part of the process.

"We have reorganised the selection committee with seven members but the different thing is that there will be no chairman," Naqvi told a press conference, adding that each member would have "equal powers."

Former captain Mohammad Yousuf, Wahab Riaz, Abdul Razzaq and Asad Shafiq – all played for Pakistan – will be joined by the current captain, the head coach and a data analyst.

The committee will soon announce probables for a two-week training camp to be held at army base Kakul from Monday, Naqvi said.

Pakistan are without a head coach following their disastrous World Cup (50 overs) in India last year where they failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

Afterwards Babar Azam stepped down from captaincy of all formats and was replaced by Shan Masood as Test captain and Shaheen Shah Afridi as T20I captain.

The then-head coach Mickey Arthur was replaced by team director Mohammad Hafeez under whom Pakistan suffered a 3-0 Test whitewash in Australia and a 4-1 series defeat in a T20I series in New Zealand.

Naqvi on Sunday left open whether Shaheen will be retained as captain, saying the selection committee will make a final decision on its T20I captain after the training camp.

The chairman also announced the restoration of a central contract for fast bowler Haris Rauf, who was suspended last month after he refused to play Tests in Australia.

"Rauf has stated that there was some misunderstanding so we have restored his central contract," said Naqvi.

Pakistan will play five T20Is against New Zealand at home followed by two in Ireland and four in England before featuring in the World Cup.--AFP

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