Wasim Akram has backed Mohammad Amir to bounce back from his form slump for Pakistan, and expects him to be one of the standout players in the new T10 Cricket League (TCL).
Amir was the first player picked when the TCL draft happened on board a yacht in Dubai Marina last week.
The fact he went to Maratha Arabians was of little surprise, given Wasim is the franchise mentor.
The former Pakistan left-arm pace bowler pushed for his selection, ahead of the likes of Fakhar Zaman, Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard.
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“It was a difficult choice, but what I think is that T10 will be all about bowling,” Wasim said. “The best team will be the team with the better bowling attack. Bits and bobs players won’t work here.
“In T20, you can still say ‘OK, this player can give you one over’. But in T10, I think the professional, regular bowlers have to bowl.
“That is why Amir was the pick, because he bowls a good yorker, and he has got pace.”
Wasim first recognised Amir’s merits 10 years ago, when he was an unknown hopeful at a pace-bowling camp in Lahore.
Even though Amir’s returns in the international sphere have generally been underwhelming over the past year, Wasim remains sure of his talent.
“It is one of those phases that everyone goes through, even if, OK, it is a little prolonged,” Wasim said. “Sometimes you bowl well and don’t get wickets, and other times you bowl you are lucky to get a five-for.
“As long as he has got the pace, and he is still only 25, I reckon he can get back into gear with one spell, a couple of quick wickets. I am not worried about him at all.”
Wasim’s view was endorsed by Dougie Brown, the UAE coach who will be tasked with harnessing the talents of the Maratha Arabians, having been named their coach.
“He is an outstanding death bowler, and you would suggest that in a 10-over competition, two overs per bowler is going to be two overs of death,” Brown said.
“He is a young guy who carries the hopes of Pakistan, and clearly he is a good signing for any commercial business, but he has good skills that will stack up in a very, very short form of the game.”
The first TCL season will take place at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium from December 14 to 17, and Wasim is excited by the new concept.
“Nobody knows what is going to happen and what plan you require for this format,” he said. “When T20 cricket came in 10 years ago, everybody raised their eyebrows, but the idea is to have entertainment.
“In this country, time is of the essence. Kids don’t have time. They go to school, they come back, they do some sport.
“I think T10 can be successful. It is a new format, and that is exciting to me.”