Amir’s interview offers up more questions than answers


Did Amir – banned for five years for deliberately no-balling in the Lord’s Test of 2010 – engage in any match-fixing or spot-fixing before Pakistan’s tour of England? This was the first key question submitted to Amir through his lawyers at Birnberg Peirce.
Did Amir talk on a mobile phone while waiting to bat during the Asia Cup in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, earlier in 2010 — and, if so, to whom? Amir and his lawyers have also failed to answer this question, submitted last Thursday.
Amir was caught on television alternately holding his right and left hand next to his helmet as he sat padded up and waiting to bat during Pakistan’s Asia Cup match against Sri Lanka.
The International Cricket Council’s Anti Corruption and Security Unit, after a brief investigation, let it be known that Amir was not talking into a mobile phone held outside his helmet.
However, a former Pakistan Test player testified to The Sunday Telegraph that one of Amir’s teammates had told him what actually happened: that Amir was speaking into a mobile phone hidden inside his helmet.
The former Pakistan player rang the ACSU’s hotline, leaving a message and his contact number, but never heard back.
In 2010, as now, it was contrary to the ICC’s regulations for anyone to use a mobile inside the dressing-room, except for the team manager’s phone in an emergency. If this allegation was true, here was a breach of the regulations, irrespective of the person Amir was apparently speaking to.
When Amir batted, Pakistan needed 38 runs off 9.1 overs with three wickets left, and he scored five runs from as many as 14 balls. Pakistan, who had looked like winning, lost by 16 runs.
Another important, and unanswered, question arising from Amir’s interview last week is why he gave his bank account details to a man, called Ali, whom Amir said he had briefly met and barely knew. And, by Amir’s own account, Ali offered no explanation when Amir asked him why he wanted these bank details.
As the police closed in on Amir after the News of the World exclusive during the Lord’s Test of August 2010, Amir borrowed a mobile phone and texted Ali, asking him to delete all the texts and messages that Amir had sent to him. For this unusual behaviour, as for so much of what he did, Amir’s explanation was that he panicked and, in his words, “I couldn’t understand anything.” The interview suggested that Amir expects the public to be as gullible as he presented himself to be: “nobody is more stupid than me,” he said.
The onus is on Amir to substantiate the implausible version of events that he came up with last week, after he consistently lied to the ICC tribunal – and to the Pakistan Cricket Board when they interviewed Amir twice – by maintaining his innocence.
The tribunal set up by the ICC, consisting of three eminent judges led by Michael Beloff QC, concluded that “Mr Amir was an active party to both the conclusion and the implementation of the Lord’s no-ball fix” — not a naive innocent pressurised by the Pakistan captain Salman Butt, as Amir painted himself last week. Throughout the ICC tribunal hearings, Amir never suggested that Butt had pressurised him to bowl the two no-balls, whereas his fellow bowler Mohammad Asif had advanced this defence.
“Unlike Mr Asif, Mr Amir had not sought to suggest that he had been instructed by Mr Butt to bowl in a way calculated to increase the odds of a no-ball,” the ICC tribunal found.
So, in his interview last week, Amir switched to the completely opposite tack by claiming that Butt had pressurised him.
The ICC tribunal summarised: “The explanations offered by the three players were in each case quite implausible, and none of them had been advanced at the time the story first broke in the media, or by the time of or at the provisional hearing that took place in October 2010.”
Amir has therefore repeatedly changed his version of events, completely contradicting himself in the process. His latest version may contain elements of truth, but he still has some outstanding questions to answer.