Amir retirement rings warning bells for Test cricket

Mohammad Amir’s decision to retire from Test cricket at just 27 - when he is at the peak of his prowess - has jolted the cricketing community.

Mohammad Amir had several years of Test cricket before him but succumbed to the lure of the various Twenty20 leagues.    -  AFP

It is a shock to the system. And a wake-up call. If the ICC and the different Boards do not respond now, Test cricket could be in peril. 

And this at a time when the ICC is attempting to revive the five-day game and lend it a context with the World Test championship. 

Mohammad Amir’s decision to retire from Test cricket at just 27 - when he is at the peak of his prowess - has jolted the cricketing community.

The talented left-arm paceman had several years of Test cricket before him but succumbed to the lure of the various Twenty20 leagues. 

He will be available for Pakistan in ODI and Twenty20 cricket but not in Tests which is the most demanding and the complete format.

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When the IPL first came into being, in 2008, followed gradually by the other leagues, it was said that there would be deterrents against international cricketers retiring early from Tests to play in the more lucrative shorter formats.

Over time, these idealistic views have been thrown out of the window. And the West Indies cricket, the first casualty really, was torn apart. 

Across the cricketing world, several players, particularly pacemen, called time on their Test careers to focus essentially on Twenty20 leagues. South African cricket is staring at a full blown crisis with so many players leaving. 

For a legend such as AB de Villiers, even a final World Cup appearance for his country is not enough motivation. He makes a feeble, cosmetic attempt towards the end, but the team rightly says no. 

READ: ICC WTC will add context to five-day game: Kohli

Yet, Amir’s case is the most disappointing for he is just 27. And then he owes so much to cricket after being found guilty of corruption in the spot-fixing scandal of 2011. 

He served time in a British jail, admitted his guilt and was part of ICC’s anti-corruption programme. Amir was welcomed back to all forms of the game in 2015. 

The Pakistan Cricket Board stood by him, so did the ICC; let’s not destroy a young cricketer’s career was their thinking.

And how does Amir pay them back? By taking an easy and many might call ‘selfish’ route out of Test cricket. 

His wife is a British Pakistani and there are rumours that Amir plans to settle in England.   

Mercifully, Indian cricketers have not been impacted by early Test retirements since the BCCI does not allow its cricketers to figure in leagues outside of the IPL. 

And left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra did so well after his Test career was over. And thankfully, there are several cricketers, the British pace pair of James Anderson and Stuart Broad being the shining examples, whose heart still bleeds for Tests. 

But many other countries face a looming danger as they try to keep their Test flock together. 

It’s time for ICC and the various Boards to act. If you are serious about the World Test championship, do not allow cricketers to desert the royal five-day game.