Home Village of Muhammad Amir

The dusty strip of ground is as far from the grand rooms and hallowed turf of Lord's as you can get. But this is where cricket prodigy Mohammad Amir's searing pace was first unleashed, as he honed the skills that have made him one of the world's most feared fast bowlers aged just 18. Impoverished residents in his home village idolise him after watching his match-winning heroics on a fuzzy portable TV. But today his friends and old neighbours are trying to make sense of his involvement in the betting scam at Lord's that has rocked cricket. Yasir Mirza, 27, who captains the village team, insists his pal must have been tricked or pressured into bowling the no-ball that exposed the scandal.
Speaking to the Mirror on the bumpy pitch where Amir used to hurl a tennis ball wrapped in tape at a pile of bricks used as wickets, Yasir said: "He's been used by the bookies and the older Pakistan players. "He's the hero of our village and we can't believe what has happened. "I grew up playing cricket with Amir and I know for sure that he must have been conned into doing this. "Amir is a very honest guy. I watched him grow up and captained him when we played against other villages around here. "We called him since all of this came out on Sunday and he told us his only connection to the guy who supposedly fixed those balls was through senior players." Amir left squalid Changa Bangyaal, two hours south of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, for what promised to be a glittering career. Now his part in last week's Test scam during the defeat to England has brought shame to the dirt-poor villagers who he grew up with. The star faces a life ban if it's proved he deliberately bowled a no-ball in a racket allegedly organised by Surrey-based fixer Mazhar Majeed.
Kamran Raja, 30, who also played with Amir for the village, said: "He was a lot younger than us but he was so much better than everyone else. I don't understand why he would sacrifice all that hard work for a few thousand pounds. He can do so well just by playing cricket." Amir's cousin, Bilal Ahmed, 38, said: "Spot betting on the toss, no-balls and wides is a crime spreading right across Pakistan. "There must be a lot of pressure on the players to take the bribes but Amir's only crime is to be naive and too in awe of those around him." But furious village elder Rehman Mehmood, 60, said: "We are embarrassed and ashamed by 'what he's done. We were so proud of him before. It's a disgrace for our village and our country." When the Mirror visited the cluster of halffinished concrete block houses where Amir grew up, his parents' home was locked and bolted. The family went into hiding when outraged cricket fans vented their anger on the streets after the scam was exposed. It was a far cry from his parents' pride when Amir left his sister and five brothers after winning a scholarship to Pakistan's elite cricket schools in Rawalpindi and Lahore. Aamir Shehzed played with Amir at the academy and is an example of what could happen to his old pal if he is banned. Standing next to a stinking rubbish tip directly in front of his home, Aamir, 24, said: "He was extraordinary. He's my friend and my hero and I'd be devastated if he gets charged over this." Amir is known as the Gujar Khan Express after the region where he grew up. His family still live in the remote area in Punjab including one of his brothers who earns £7 a day working in a shop. But thanks to his fame, Amir was able to obtain loans for lavish new homes in Lahore for himself and his parents. They were to be transported to luxury from the cramped concrete compound where 12 people share four rooms. Fans are now questioning how the star could afford the investments after starting his sporting career so recently. Pakistan's cricketers are paid handsomely compared to national standards but their wages are dwarfed by their English and Australian rivals. Police now plan to quiz at least four Pakistani players on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers. It's claimed that parts of the Lord's Test were rigged so that specific things happened at agreed moments. Alleged fixer Majeed, who owns a £1.8million mansion in Croydon, Surrey, was filmed apparently accepting £150,000 to mastermind the scam and has been released on bail after questioning. Fraud detectives have charged three people with money laundering. Pakistan has now sent three officers to Britain to make their own enquiries. When Amir this summer became the youngest player ever to take 50 Test wickets it seemed a perfect conclusion to his meteoric rise from squalor to superstardom. His old pals now pray the Gujar Khan Express hasn't already come off the rails.