TAUNTON: England captain Alastair Cook believes Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir will face a tough reception from fans should he return to Test cricket at Lord’s later this month.
Left-arm fast bowler Amir’s exciting career came to a shuddering halt at Lord’s in 2010 when, during a Test against England, he and new-ball partner Mohammad Asif were caught bowling no-balls to order on the instructions of captain Salman Butt as part of a sting operation carried out by a tabloid newspaper.
All three received five-year bans from cricket and, together with sports agent Mazhar Majeed, jail terms.
Amir, who served three months in an English young offenders institute, has only featured in the game’s shorter formats since his return to Pakistan duty in January.
But the 24-year-old’s career could come full circle when the first of a four-Test series against England starts at Lord’s on July 14.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has backed Amir, currently playing in the team’s opening tour match against Somerset in Taunton, to become the best bowler in the world.
But Cook says he will likely have to deal with some taunts from spectators first.
“I’m sure there will be a reaction and that is right,” said Cook at a sponsor’s event.
“That is part and parcel, that when you do something like that there are more consequences than just the punishment that is something for him to cope with, whatever comes his way.”
Opening batsman Cook, who played in the controversial 2010 Lord’s Test, added: “It won’t affect us as a side, we will concentrate on what we can concentrate on.
“The media will ask questions about it but it will not affect us.”
Meanwhile Cook reiterated his call for future fixers to be hit with life-bans while saying he had no qualms about playing against Amir again.
“Whether I agreed or disagreed with the punishment, he got it, served his time and he is absolutely right to come back.
“You’d have to speak to him. What he did wasn’t good, but he served his punishment then.
“It hasn’t happened and the ICC (International Cricket Council) haven’t made any big statements, but if I was in charge if you got caught once that would be it – one strike and you’re out.”
England paceman Stuart Broad made his highest Test score of 169 during the now infamous match at Lord’s, an innings that was quickly overshadowed by the spot-fixing furore.
However, Broad told Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper: “In Amir’s case I certainly have no hard feelings about playing against him again.
“What he did was wrong but he was extremely young and maybe not aware of the consequences. The reality is he’s back in the game and has served his time.”
Broad added: “I have a little bit of sympathy for Amir but once you’ve received money to do something illegal that is always a bad thing.
“We are very well-educated by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, but at 18 years old you are potentially more vulnerable and susceptible to your elders.”
Broad, however, agreed with Cook that life bans were the best deterrent to spot and match-fixing.
“I am strongly of the view that one of the only ways we will ever expel this awful disease from our game is to hand out lifetime bans for any kind of fixing,” said Broad.-AFP