England captain Alastair Cook is expecting fans to give a hostile reception to Pakistan fast-bowler Mohammed Amir when he takes to the pitch at Lord’s for the first Test of the forthcoming series.
Amir is set to make his Test comeback at the home of cricket, the venue where his bowling of deliberate no-balls during the 2010 tour of England earned him a five-year ban after pleaded guilty to spot-fixing.
The left-arm seamer has only featured in the game’s shorter formats since returning to international action in January, but is in line for a Test return, with Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq backing Amir to become the best bowler in the world.
Cook, who has long been outspoken against spot-fixers and the length of their bans, feels the 24-year-old will have to deal with the crowd voicing their opinions when play gets under way on Thursday week.
“I’m sure there will be a reaction and that is right,” said Cook.
“That is part and parcel, that when you do something like that there are more consequences than just the punishment – that is something for him to cope with, whatever comes his way.
“There is always a sideshow and a story running in the media. Whatever Test match you are playing in there is always something off the field, whether it is political or something like this.
“It won’t affect us as a side, we will concentrate on what we can concentrate on. The media will ask questions about it, but it will not affect us.”
Cook has again called on cheats to be hit with lifelong bans, but believes it is only right Amir is allowed to attempt to rebuild what was a promising Test career.
“It was very different then – match-fixers didn’t get caught,” he said.
“That was the first big one in England, we had others, but this was the first in the modern era.
“Whether I agreed or disagreed with the punishment, he got it, served his time and he is absolutely right to come back.
“You’d have to speak to him. What he did wasn’t good, but he served his punishment then.
“It hasn’t happened and the ICC haven’t made any big statements, but if I was in charge if you got caught once that would be it – one strike and you’re out.”
Cook has not played cricket since England’s draw with Sri Lanka on June 13 saw them wrap up a 2-0 Test series success.
He has instead watched on and rested up as the one-day side dominated their five-game series and is now refreshed and ready to go, having come back into the Essex side for their Specsavers County Championship match against Kent.
Asked if he has enjoyed his break, Cook replied: “Yes, it has been nice.
“We had a week off after the series and it is back to hard work and getting your head around another Test series.
“But one of the silver-linings of not playing one-day cricket for England is you get a bit more time off and at certain stages in your career that is very refreshing.
“You get very clear stints of when you have got to work hard and put in all your efforts and when you get longer breaks than in the past, and I think certainly for me it is right for this stage of my career.
“This winter we have 12 weeks straight in the sub-continent, which is going to be incredibly tough and full-on, but knowing in the back of my mind that I will see the family in January, February and March is off, we play no cricket, it gets that work-life balance for me just right.”
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