For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 94.
Since the turn of the millenium, no young cricketer has excited me more than Mohammad Amir. As a Sri Lankan supporter, I found Ajantha Mendis' emergence pretty thrilling but there was always the nagging worry that he would not be as effective once the mystery wore off, as has indeed proved to be the case. I've had no such worry about Amir, however, as his success has been due not to mystery but rather a precocious mastery of the fast bowler's art.
His 6-for last Friday made him - at age 18 - the youngest cricketer to earn an entry on the Honours Boards at Lord's. A week earlier at the Oval, he had become the youngest person to take a Test 5-for in England. In fact, he was also the youngest fast bowler to take a Test 5-for anywhere in the world when he ripped through the Aussie middle order last December in Melbourne.
Cricinfo published a blog post of mine about Amir in January. In it I tried to describe how uplifting I'd found it to watch him in action in both that MCG spell and the World T20 Final in 2009. As such, the most heartbreaking aspect of the spot-fixing scandal that has just hit the news is the fact that Amir is implicated in it. Kamran Akmal has already gained a reputation as a bit of an agitator in the Pakistan dressing room and Mr "A Class" Asif has hardly steered clear of controversy. Salman Butt's reputation as a leader has been growing until now but it is Amir who has undoubtedly been the star of what appeared to be a promising young Pakistan team.