Mohammad Amir has averaged over 100 with the ball in ODIs in 2018 © Getty
A round six match of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy between Sui Southern Gas Corporation (SSGC) and Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) at Marghazar ground in Islamabad came to a halt after 6.1 overs due to dangerous pitch conditions. Mohammad Amir, marking his return to domestic cricket in search of form, bowled 3.1 of those overs picking up a wicket for seven runs.
Amir opened the bowling for SSGC after Salman Butt-led WAPDA opted to bat. He accounted for the wicket of the 41-year-old Rafatullah Mohmand, who played three T20Is for Pakistan against England in 2015. The umpires decided to stop play after one-drop batsman Mohammad Saad was hit by the ball. The match will restart tomorrow with a new toss at the same venue but on a different surface. It will be a three-day match.
Pitches during Quaid-e-Azam Trophy have remained under scrutiny for uneven bounce and their poor quality over the last several years. Last year, former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq had criticised the abysmal state of the wickets. “This is supposed to be the most prestigious form of cricket after international cricket, but the standard of the tournament is very low,” he had said.
“I always have been insisting that these concerns need to be heeded and these problems addressed. You cannot produce better cricketers until you don’t improve the standard of the pitches. We take a lot of time to get here, players invest a lot of time to play but this isn’t the standard that should be in place. When 20-24 wickets are falling in a day, then it is a concern. Wickets are uneven, the ball keeps low and it is obvious that the pitches are underprepared. It’s difficult for players.”
This year, the PCB began the domestic season earlier than usual on September 1 when the weather was still on the warmer side in most parts of the country to aide batsmen in scoring runs. However, the average score per wicket on the first day throughout the first month was 3.6 runs less than the last year’s 28.5.
What is Amir doing in domestic cricket?
After being axed from the squad for a two-match Test series against Australia, Amir decided to return to the domestic circuit to find his rhythm back. He had an abysmal Asia Cup as he remained wicketless in the three matches he played against Hong Kong and India. Since the beginning of 2018, Amir has taken only three wickets in ODI cricket, the most recent one coming against Zimbabwe on July 13. His average this year with the ball has been over 100.
SSGC coach Atiq uz Zaman told Cricbuzz that Amir reached out to the team and expressed his desire to play domestic cricket. “Amir has lost his swing and we are looking to work on it,” Atiq had said. “We will sit with Amir and work on his wrist position, his usage of the crease, and other technical aspects of the game. We are in a process of devising a complete plan for him and have had discussions about what needs to be done.
“When a bowler is not picking up a wicket, his stress starts building up and it gets to a point where he starts to doubt his ability. His confidence has been shaken. Playing first-class cricket, Amir will not have that sort of pressure on him to win us matches. We will tell him to enjoy his cricket, allowing him the room to express himself.”