Six years on, Amir's back in the reckoning

LONDON • There may have been 2,137 days between Test match deliveries, but when Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Amir released the first ball of his second Test career at Lord's on Friday, it was as if time had stood still.

The bustling, light-footed run-up was identical, so too the athletic approach, the lively action, whippy arm and fiery stare.

Even though nerves tightened his muscles somewhat, and he conceded four runs an over early on, he still created chances and asked enough questions to remind everyone why he was the youngest-ever bowler to capture 50 Test wickets.

Then the 24-year-old took his first Test wicket in six years when he bowled England captain Alastair Cook (81).

The left-arm fast bowler would have dismissed Cook much earlier, but slip Mohammad Hafeez and wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed dropped the opener off his bowling when the Englishman was on 22 and 55 respectively.

Amir was making his return to Test cricket at the scene of his 2010 spot-fixing crime, which earned him a five-year ban and a jail term for deliberately bowling no-balls during that year's Lord's Test against England.

His reappearance had been inserted into diaries and liberally signposted by the press-box sages.

Yet, when he finally emerged from the pavilion in his pads on Friday morning, there was barely a murmur from the stands.

The odd isolated "boo" was heard alongside polite applause as he swished three boundaries, before he was the last man out for 12 in Pakistan's 339.

Later on Friday and early yesterday, he was eclipsed by his team-mate, leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who took 6-72 as England were bundled out for 272 in their first innings.

Amir finished with 1-65 but showed that he still has the ability to bowl over and round the wicket and, with strong fingers and wrist, coax the ball either way in the air.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 17, 2016, with the headline 'Six years on, Amir's back in the reckoning'. Print Edition | Subscribe