Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir took his first Test wicket in six years when he bowled England captain Alastair Cook at Lord’s on Friday.
Amir was making his return to Test cricket at the scene of his 2010 spot-fixing crime, which saw him get a five-year ban and a jail term for deliberately bowling no balls as part of a newspaper ‘sting’ during that year’s Lord’s Test against England.
The 24-year-old paceman suffered the frustration Friday of seeing fellow left-hander Cook dropped off his bowling by slip Mohammad Hafeez and wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who both missed routine chances, when the opener was on 22 and 55 respectively.
But with Cook in sight of a hundred on the second day of the first of a four-Test series, Amir took the fielders out of the equation by inducing Cook to play on for 81.
That left England 171 for five in reply to Pakistan’s first innings 339 — a deficit of 168 runs.
At that stage, Amir had taken one for 46 in 12.2 overs, with his 52nd Test wicket coming in his 15th match at this level.
“Why did it take Pakistan so long to bowl full and wide to Cook?” questioned former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott, commentating on BBC Radio’s Test Match Special.
Cook, always a prized wicket for any opposition bowler, had suggested before this match that if it were up to him, all fixers, including Amir, would be banned for life.
However, the England skipper added that as Amir had “served his time” he had “no problems” in playing against him in this four-match series.
By dismissing Cook, Amir took his first wicket in a Test match since he dismissed England’s Graeme Swann on his way to figures of six for 84 in an innings and 225-run defeat for Pakistan at Lord’s in 2010 — a result overshadowed by the spot-fixing scandal.
Amir struggled for line and length early in his spell Friday but became increasingly effective as the sunny skies above Lord’s gave way to swing-friendly grey clouds.
Cook, on 22, was drawn forward by an excellent delivery only for first slip Hafeez to drop the straightforward catch.
It was a similar story when Cook, now on 55, again edged Amir but Sarfraz Ahmed, going slightly to his left, floored the two-handed chance.
Amir screamed in frustration before sharing a wry smile with Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who gave the bowler a consoling pat on the back.
The floppy hair Amir sported as a teenage may have given away to a shorter cut and his once clean shaven face may now be home to a goatee beard, but when Cook was out there was no mistaking Amir’s trademark arms outstretched ‘airplane’ celebration.
Earlier on Friday, tailender Amir was booed by a small section of a capacity crowd as he walked out to bat.
He inside edged his first ball, from Stuart Broad, for four.
Next ball he was hit on the helmet as he ducked into a Broad delivery. But Amir also hit two well-struck boundaries before he was last man out for 12, caught in the slips off Broad.