Pakistan spearhead Mohammad Amir says playing in the World Cup will be a dream come true after he missed the previous two tournaments due to a ban for spot-fixing.
The 27-year-old nearly missed out this time as he was left out of the preliminary World Cup squad, having taken just five wickets in the 14 matches before the recent ODI series against England.
He did not get to bowl in the first match against England at the Oval, which was ruined by the weather, and missed the last four games with a bout of chicken pox. The home side won the series 4-0. But selectors decided to include him in the final 15 for the World Cup in England and Wales.
“It’s a dream come true,” Amir told AFP ahead of Pakistan’s first match against West Indies at Trent Bridge on Friday. “Every cricketer dreams of representing his country in a World Cup so this is my chance.
“My target is to take wickets and be third-time lucky in England after winning the World T20 and Champions Trophy,” said the paceman, recalling Pakistan’s triumphs in England in 2009 and 2017.
Amir said Pakistan had positive memories of playing in England, which they hoped to take into the World Cup.
“Our triumph in the World T20 was excellent and then the Champions Trophy -- the impact of those wins are with us and the support we get in the UK is extraordinary, so we want to match those.
“People love the Pakistan team and come in large numbers to support us. I can’t forget the final of the Champions Trophy at the Oval [in 2017].”
Amir was among three players involved in a spot-fixing scandal during a 2010 Test against England. The trio were sentenced to jail terms, and were given five-year worldwide bans from cricket by the ICC.
Amir said he had moved on from the “sordid chapter” in his career.
“It was unfortunate to miss so much cricket, including two World Cups, but my belief is that you can’t avoid your destiny. Those World Cups were not in my destiny but there is sadness on missing them.
“But once you think that this is your chance, you try to make full use of it by forgetting everything, so I will do that and everything is behind me.”
Amir believes talk of flat tracks and big scores at the World Cup are exaggerated.
“People have made a mountain out of a molehill that flat tracks will do this and that. I agree that it’s a challenge for bowlers but you need to swing the ball and if it’s not happening then you have to rely on your variations.”