Amir said he was aiming for a gradual return to international cricket, but only after regaining his full rhythm. © AFP

Amir said he was aiming for a gradual return to international cricket, but only after regaining his full rhythm. © AFP

Mohammad Amir admitted that he almost gave up cricket after being slapped with a five-year ban for spot fixing, but was fired up to take wickets and repair his reputation as he prepared to return to competitive cricket.

At the time of his ban, Amir was just 18 and was one of the most exciting bowlers in the game, having taken 51 wickets in 14 Tests, 25 in 15 One-Day Internationals and 23 in 18 Twenty20 Internationals.

The International Cricket Council relaxed his penalty in January this year after the Pakistan Cricket Board requested that Amir be allowed to play domestic cricket before the ban officially expires in September.

“I must admit I have been given a new life,” Amir told cricket.com.au on Wednesday (May 20). “I will try my best to avail this opportunity. I am ready to put in the hard yards to serve Pakistan.”

Amir said he was aiming for a gradual return to international cricket, but only after regaining his full rhythm.

“I am extremely pleased to see the crowd and fans supporting me after the comeback. It really is a huge force of motivation for me,” said Amir. “They have lot of expectations from me. Now it is my responsibility to not let them down.”

Reflecting on his lengthy ban, Amir admitted that he had started considering other career options, but Asif Bajwa, his coach, convinced him to stay focused. “I don’t have words to explain how tough the last four years were for me. It is not easy when your bread and butter is stopped and you have no other income,” he said. “I was in a situation that I wasn’t even allowed to touch a ball. It was really difficult. To be honest, yes, there were a few moments when I had lost hope, when I couldn’t see anything coming my way.”

Since the ban was relaxed, Aamer has played in the Patron’s Trophy in Pakistan, one level below first-class standard. He marked an impressive return, taking 22 wickets in the tournament, and returning 2 for 15 in 2.1 overs for Rawalpindi Rams in a T20 match.

Amir said his immediate task was to improve his fitness, but accepted that not everyone would be happy to see him back. “No doubt I will have detractors,” he said. “Everyone has his own way of thinking. As a cricketer my job is to perform on the field.”

Meanwhile, in a blow for him, Amir’s possible appearance in the Big Bash League didn’t work out as Sydney Thunder were not keen on signing him on despite an approach on the part of the bowler.