Mohammad Amir’s wait to play an international match in Pakistan will be prolonged, as he is likely to miss part, if not all, of the T20I series against the World XI. Amir and his wife are currently in England expecting their first child, with the due date potentially any time over the next week – Pakistan play their three T20Is against a World XI on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
Amir was included in Pakistan’s 16-man squad, announced a fortnight ago, but has not travelled to Pakistan to link up with his team-mates – he has been playing for Essex this summer since the end of the Champions Trophy.
His absence will not be a fatal blow to Pakistan in this format. Though he has been among the first names in the Test and ODI XI since his return to international cricket in January 2016, he did not play in any of Pakistan’s last T20 commitments – a four-match series in the West Indies. He has one wicket in his last five T20s for Pakistan, in a format where they do have options beyond him, and though he would have been close, he may not actually have been an automatic pick in the XI for the first game.
He has, however, been far more prominent this year after a relatively quiet and luckless first year back. He picked up wickets in Pakistan’s historic Test series win in the Caribbean this year and was a key part of their attack in the Champions Trophy win, including a star turn in the final. That form has filtered through the English summer, in which he has picked up wickets in County cricket as well as the Natwest T20 Blast.
It will be a blow to him – softened considerably by fatherhood of course – as it means he will not have played an international in front of a home crowd since his debut over eight years ago. The first time he represented Pakistan was at the World T20 in 2009, just months after the attacks on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore.
Not much more than a year after that, he found himself banned from cricket altogether for spot-fixing. That ban made him ineligible when Zimbabwe played a limited-overs series in Lahore in 2015, the only international cricket to have taken place in Pakistan since March 2009.
If the series goes off without incident, Amir will have a chance soon enough. Sri Lanka are scheduled to play one of their three T20Is against Pakistan in Lahore in October, and West Indies may also play a series of three T20Is in November in Pakistan.
Only three members of Pakistan’s squad for the World XI series have played international cricket in Pakistan: the captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik and Sohail Khan.