The mentor and coach of Mohammad Amir has rejected allegations that the teenage cricket prodigy is involved in corruption following his naming in an undercover match fixing investigation just hours after the finest moment of the player's burgeoning Test career.
The 18-year-old Amir claimed a test best 6-84 in the fourth Test against England on Saturday before his achievement was overshadowed by allegations in a British newspaper that he and fellow opening bowler Mohammad Asif deliberately bowled no-balls in a spot-fixing scam.
Asif Bajwa first met the left-arm fast bowler when he enrolled at his cricket and school academy in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He said he does not believe the allegations by the News of the World newspaper. "I have known him for the last eight years and he is not that kind of chap," Asif Bajwa said on Sunday.
"He is the best cricketer that has ever come through my academy and he was also well educated in Urdu, English and maths. "My school is run very strictly and with discipline and my boys here would not do these things."
Amir, the youngest player to reach 50 test wickets, has been likened to Wasim Akram. Wasim, Pakistan's most successful bowler, has said he was not as good as Amir at such a young age. "For an 18-year-old _ you don't play against too many 18-year-olds _ his skills with the ball are outstanding," England captain Andrew Strauss said.
Strauss added that it is too early to comment on the newspaper's claims.
"We don't know about this. They are only allegations," he said. Cricket has in the past been blighted by corruption issues but less so in recent years after the International Cricket Council established an Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) in 2001.
"Mohammad Amir is a young bowler who has done very well so far in his career, all over the world," Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed said. "Certainly, he's a little disappointed because his name has come through, but we and he will wait until the investigations are over.
"Only then can we say ... if he comes through clean, there's nothing better than that."
ACSU officers and Scotland Yard are investigating the newspaper's claims. Alleged middleman Mazhar Majeed was filmed in the paper's sting operation and arrested Saturday, his brother and business partner Azhar Majeed told The Associated Press.
Mazhar said in the video, which is on the newspaper's website, that fixing no-balls was the easiest way to cheat undetected. The idea is for individuals in illegal betting hubs, mostly in India, to have that information passed on to them and bet on a sure thing.
"The first ball of the third over of the innings," Mazhar is heard saying. "Asif and Amir are going to be opening the bowling. Amir is going to bowl the first over, yeah."
Mazhar added: "Then the sixth ball of the 10th over. Asif will be bowling."
The video clip that followed on the website showed both players' no-balls, with TV commentators _ former England captain Mike Atherton and former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja _ highlighting the huge oversteps.
But Bajwa still defended his star student.
"No-balls are part of the game," Bajwa said. "If you bowl a no-ball, it's normal. Umar Gul, Asif and Amir have all had problems. You can't say these things about Amir just because he bowled a no-ball.
"I called him to speak to him last night but his phone was off. I hope he will cope OK with the pressure. I am sure he will because he is strong."