ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief selector Haroon Rasheed has said that tainted pacer M Aamir needs a lot of time to rediscover his lost touch and overcome his fitness issues and requires another six months to think about his selection in the national squad.

Talking to The Nation, Haroon said: “It is never easy to stage a comeback after such a long gap. Aamir looked rusty, far from anywhere near the fitness level. Playing domestic cricket is different thing, while playing for national team is completely different and there is very long way to go for Aamir. If he wants to represent the country again, he has to concentrate on playing maximum number of domestic matches. Luckily, the entire domestic season is just round the corner which will be a great opportunity for the pacer to get back into rhythm, rediscover his magical touch and force his way into the national team.

“But frankly speaking, there is long way to go for him, as I believe, he must first regain full fitness, try to bowl maximum overs in the nets and spend time on obtaining both physical and mental toughness. Without coming out of negative frame of mind, he could never even think about playing for Pakistan again,” the chief selector said.

Haroon said they had witnessed Aamir very closely during their long stay at Pindi Stadium during the recently-concluded National T20 Cup. “Aamir looked far from attaining match fitness level, as bowling four overs is different than bowling 10 or more overs with same pace, accuracy and cutting edge. Aamir is provided with a platform where he could showcase his abilities, and whenever he looks even near to where he once was, he would be considered for national team selection, but for me, he is far from near that period,” Haroon concluded.

Sharing his views, Intikhab Alam suggested Aamir to focus on improving his stamina, as he looked a bit off color in some matches, while he was very lively in few matches. “Aamir played only five matches for Rawalpindi Region, and although he looked sharp on some occasions, yet it was also true that he looked completely different on a number of occasions and fear was main factor.”

“Pakistan team definitely needs an express bowler, who may cast fear factor on the opponents, but for that, Aamir must overcame fitness issues, start bowling with certain pace and maintain same line and length for longer period of time not for few overs. I have witnessed him bowling in the National T20, but I was a bit surprised that I was expecting him bowling with full pace, shattering the confidence of batsmen and steaming some magical deliveries. Yes I noticed a few positives as well and I think he had come up very strongly, putting all the negativity behind him, which shows he is hungry and determined to come up with good. But he has to prove it through his performances.

“Aamir looked quite friendly during the National T20 but he must improve his relations with the teammates and try to convince them that he is ashamed of what he had done and assured them it was a mistake and now he is a completely different person. I am sure he will get the desired response from the teammates,” Intikhab concluded. Rawalpindi Region head coach Sabih Azhar, who gave break to Aamir in the National T20, urged the masses to support the pacer. “Yes, he had committed a huge blunder, but now he needs masses’ overwhelming support, as without their support, he can never be the same person, nor anywhere near to achieving those heights, where once he was. I have closely monitored Aamir during the National T20, he learnt a lot from his past mistakes and now he is completely changed person both as human being and as a cricketer.

“I strongly believe, he needs masses’ backing and the media too must support him. I am not defending his past deeds, but he sought forgiveness for what he had done and I believe, if one accepts his mistake, one’s must be given one last chance to prove his worth,” Sabih Azhar concluded. Aamer was sitting at number 20 in the recently-concluded National T20, as he had played five matches, bowled 119 deliveries with no maiden overs, conceded 132 runs took five wickets with 3-23 as his best performance with an average of 26.40, no 4 wickets, no 5 wickets in a match, his strike rate was 23.80 and 6.66 was his economical rate.