Pakistan pacer Mohammad Aamer not likely to speak up

Many Pakistan fans are confused as to why Mohammad Aamer would allegedly get involved in something like spot-fixing, or indeed why he would risk his whole career.

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Rewind a few months, and teenage prodigy Mohammad Aamer had the cricketing world at his feet. Agents and sponsors were queuing up to sign him, there were commercial opportunities aplenty and in the words of one English county's media manager: "Every damn county in England is wanting to sign him". The 18-year-old was set for fame and stardom.

However, one delivery, one misstep, now has the potential to derail or even end his career before it has properly begun.

As the International Cricket Council's (ICC) spot-fixing tribunal continues its hearings and deliberations in Doha, with the accused trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Aamer presenting their defence, it is the teenager who seems to have gained the most sympathy from the international cricketing community and from fans alike.

The sympathy is tinged with regret and sense of despair at the wasted potential. Many Pakistan fans are confused as to why Aamer would allegedly get involved in something like spot-fixing, or indeed why he would risk his whole career.

Aamer has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons after a fantastic start to his international career. Having 99 international wickets already under his belt after bursting on to the scene during the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup, he helped Pakistan surprise the cricketing world and lift the Trophy at Lord's.

Pace, aggression, icy-nerved under pressure, a cheeky smile and unmatched skill for one so young: he had it all. However, that great day at Lord's seems a distant memory now, with Aamer's recent televised appearances being restricted to chat shows and courtroom appearances, instead of the cricket field.

The spot-fixing hearing will particularly be difficult for Aamer as he looks across the room at his National Bank teammates Butt and Asif, two colleagues who he was particularly close to and friendly with throughout his career. The quandary that faces Aamer is whether to let his head rule his heart or his heart rule his head.

He faces a stark choice; on the one hand, he could possibly save his own career and reveal all; on the other, he would end up taking the punishment that the ICC would throw at the players if they are found guilty.

And that outcome does appear very likely. Not because the ICC's case is airtight, but because unlike the Hansie Cronje case, or the Marlon Samuels case, or others throughout the past few decades, this matter is now seen as a test of international cricket's integrity.

The prevailing mood is that fairly or unfairly, the players involved will be made an example of, regardless of how convincing the ICC's case is, or how independent the tribunal is.

Given the strong likelihood of a "guilty" verdict, the intriguing question is whether the three accused players, who have backed each other in public, would continue to do so during the case.

Aamer was reportedly "a mental mess" in the aftermath of the spot-fixing allegations this summer, and was inconsolable as the story broke, though he tried to put on a brave face in public.

It took several days and a lot of consoling and advice from teammates and friends for him to regain some sort of control.

Some of his public pronouncements since then indicate that the confusion and anguish still persists. A confused teenager now faces the toughest challenge of his short life in Doha - it is expected that his position at the hearing will be the most difficult and awkward.

If unexpectedly the hearing goes the trio's way, then the relationship and National Bank bond will not be tested, but should matters start to turn against the players, then the ace up Aamer's sleeve could indeed be the "reveal all card".

Will Aamer speak up, or will he sit tight? We shall have to see. Only time will tell when, or even if, he ever gets the chance to take his 100th international wicket.