Continued from the previous part…
Wasim, on the other hand, had the ability to swing the ball both ways and had incredible variations up his sleeves. Because of a quick-arm action, Akram could trouble even the best of the batsmen. The left-arm fast bowler soon developed an ability to bowl Yorkers at will and that’s why he was able to record two limited-overs hat-tricks very early in his career. In 1999, the greatest left-arm fast bowler of the game picked up two Test hat-tricks as well. He is the only bowler in the history of the game to have achieved this landmark.
Wasim was appointed the captain of the national team in 1993 but the all-rounder could not develop understanding with the players and some of the senior players revolted against him a year later. However, Akram regained the captaincy later in his career and turned out to be one of the most successful captains in Pakistan’s cricketing history. Pakistan came close to winning the ICC Cricket World Cup 1999 in England under the captaincy of Akram but succumbed under pressure in the final against Australia.
Pakistan’s World Cup winning campaign of 1992 remains the peak of Wasim’s illustrious career. The all-rounder played a crucial role for his team throughout the tournament and was named as the Man of the Match in the final against England.
With 502 wickets in One Day International cricket at an average of only 23.52 and 414 Test scalps at 23.62, Akram will always be remembered amongst the legends of the game. The left-arm fast bowler is very rightly included in International Cricket Council’s Hall of Fame.
Apart from his matchless bowling skills, Wasim was extremely destructive with the bat as well. The left-hander had the ability to change the course of the game within a short span of time. The lower-order batsman scored three Test hundreds, including an unbeaten 257 against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura in 1996.
At the present moment, Wasim is working for Kolkata Knight Riders as a bowling coach and has been doing a tremendous job. Brett Lee, the Australian fast bowler, who plays for the Knight Riders, expressed in a recent interview that Akram had taught him a lot of skills and has no doubts in his mind that the former Pakistani captain is the greatest fast bowler of modern-day cricket.
“Wasim Akram was the best bowler of the world. He has not only taught me how to bowl different deliveries and how to be patient but just general cricket skills. He taught me the in-swinger with the new ball,” said Lee.
The whole cricketing fraternity believes that Akram is one of the most talented cricketers of all times but the left-arm fast bowler had many controversies in his career, including match-fixing allegations and his differences with the teammates. Wasim’s career could have done without those controversies as neither did it give a good name to him nor to his country.
Akram will always be remembered in the history books as one of the finest exponents of fast bowling and will continue to inspire budding left-arm fast bowlers. The world of cricket in general and Pakistan cricket in particular must make best use of Akram’s experience and skills. Former cricketer has the ability to groom emerging players but probably the game of cricket will not see such a left-arm fast bowler again.