I would have never let Amir play again: Ramiz Raja

ramiz-rajaFormer captain and ambassador of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), Ramiz Raja, is critical of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) sympathy towards tainted fast bowler Mohammad Amir and said that if he had powers to make a call on the matter, he would have never let the young fast bowler play again.

“Pakistan cricket has suffered a lot. I don’t have courage to face any more shocks or jolts again. I have experienced this practically and those who have witnessed such things practically can’t forgive the characters involved in the act,” said Ramiz, in an conversation with The News Dispatch.

“If I had powers to decide on the matter, I would have never let him play again. As I don’t have any powers, I can just critique, or get frustrated, and pray to God to give people some guidance so that they can create pressure and such Johnny’s never come near Pakistan cricket ever again.”

Ramiz has been critical of the attempts at lobbying for the return of the paceman, disgraced for spot-fixing, since last year and said his return would expose the team to the “virus”.

“It is the most awful and sickening feeling. When a bunch of rogues you share the dressing room with are fighting tooth and nail to lose a match, it kills your desire to play the game, and whips up a desire to kill them,” Ramiz had written in his column for Cricinfo.

“Why is the world so keen to see Amir back? The managers of the game, who for whatever reason are trying to fast-track him into the very system that he had wronged, have obviously not experienced the pangs of betrayal and cheating that fixing causes.”

Ramiz, who represented Pakistan in 57 Tests and 158 One-Day Internationals, refused to buy the argument that Amir was naïve when he had committed the crime.

But on Thursday the 23-year-old Amir received the backing of the PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan and head coach Waqar Younis. Their support came just as Pakistan suffered heavy defeats in the ODI and T20 series against England. With the World Twenty20 around the corner and Pakistan clearly lacking match-winning bowlers the PCB chief said Amir was “knocking at the door to be considered”.

According to Ramiz, though, the reason for Pakistan’s demise in limited-overs cricket was much more deep-rooted and cosmetic changes were not the answer.

New Pakistan not fearless

Ramiz found it surprising that Pakistan, despite being naturally attuned to a gameplay favouring limited-over cricket, continued to go down in rankings of one-day and T20 cricket.

“Limited over cricket is in Pakistan’s DNA and I fail to understand the reason behind our rise in Tests, and our downfall in ODIs and T20s. I think the reason behind our success in limited-over cricket was our fearless approach towards the game, which we don’t see in the team anymore.

“Batting has always been our major concern, but in 2015, it’s our bowling that has turned out to be the worst. We credit most of our victories to the bowlers, but somehow, we have lost that mantra. We can’t win games by keeping a defensive approach; it has always been our attacking attitude that has led us to victories,” he said.

The former captain wanted the cricket board to implement strict policies to ensure players maintain their fitness levels in the team.

“It has been time and again said that those who fail to maintain their fitness will not be considered for selection. I am still waiting for the day it really happens. It will send a nice message across to the players that without maintaining their fitness levels they can’t survive in this new environment.”

Ramiz termed the frequent changes in the batting order of the players, decisions by the team management and selection committee as problematic, but supported the board’s stand of sticking with the personnel. “I don’t think that removing Azhar Ali or Waqar Younis from their positions is the right thing to do. You have to give them time.

“Just like when Misbah was pointed out as the leader and was given time, he yielded good results. So, chopping won’t help. What they need to do is to be on the same page and accept mistakes. Acceptance is very necessary.”

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