ILT20: Mohammed Amir set to join Shaheen Afridi at Desert Vipers for new season

Letf-arm seamer becomes the fourth recruit from Pakistan for the franchise who were runners-up last season

Mohammed Amir during a match for Interglobe Marine in the CBFS T20 league in Sharjah in January 2022. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Desert Vipers have moved to combat the issue of fluid availability within their squad by signing Mohammed Amir for the second season of the DP World International League T20.

The left-arm pace bowler has become their fourth signing from Pakistan. The new campaign of the UAE’s own T20 franchise competition starts next Friday in Sharjah.

Amir tasted success in the UAE only recently. He was part of the New York Strikers side which won the Abu Dhabi T10 last month.

He also has a wealth of experience of playing in the emirates with Pakistan in the past. Amir retired from international cricket in 2020, meaning he is available for the full ILT20 campaign.

That will not be the case for all the leading players involved in the competition.

David Warner, for example, is set to captain Dubai Capitals in his debut season in the competition. But George Bailey, Australia’s chief selector, says he expects the opener back for national duty for a T20 series against the West Indies.

The Vipers, who lost the final to Gulf Giants last year, have a number of star recruits themselves, but not all will be available throughout.

Shaheeh Shah Afridi – another left-arm bowling former teen sensation, like Amir – is booked in for a minimum of four appearances, with the potential to extend. Shadab Khan’s availability will also be dependent on Pakistan commitments.

Tom Moody, the Viper’s coach, said the fact Amir is no longer involved in international cricket is a boost for the team.

“Players of Amir’s quality and experience are valuable assets, and we are delighted to have secured his services,” Moody said.

"In signing Amir, we have lined up a player who knows both the format, and the conditions in the UAE, inside-out.

“He was playing in Abu Dhabi as recently as last month, for the New York Strikers in the T10 tournament, under one of our coaches, Carl Crowe, with the Strikers going on to win that event in large part due to Amir’s contributions with the ball.

“And in a world where player availability is not always guaranteed because of international commitments, the fact he no longer plays for Pakistan means call-ups for his national team are not an issue.”

No Pakistan players featured in the first season of the IlT20. The competition’s organisers are hopeful their arrival for the new campaign will help get fans through the gates. It is a wish shared by Amir.

“I always enjoy playing in the UAE because the cricket fans always support Pakistan players and cheer us on,” Amir said.

“I know the local conditions as I have played a lot of cricket there, so that will be an advantage for me.”

Updated: January 12, 2024, 10:00 AM