July 26, 2011

For about 100 years, Allan Davidson – the lionhearted aussie, was considered the best left-arm fast bowler known to cricket. Then came Wasim Akram and the definition had to be rewritten.

Early eighties saw the retirement of reverse-swing guru Sarfaraz and Imran getting sidelined for three injured years. This compelled a country wide fast bowling hunt and yielded a gem in Wasim Akram, first spotted by Javed Miandad, who, being the skipper, insisted upon his inclusion to NZ ’85. The Lahore-born left-armer repaid the faith by taking 10 wickets in his second test and rest, as the worn-out cliche goes, is magnificent history.

Under the tutelage of Imran Khan, the apprentice Wasim learned the craft of reverse swing and from effective became lethal. There followed the memorable displays of all-round Wasim at Faisalabad’85 (6/96 & 66) rattling the Caribbean Mights, Leeds’87 (5/91 & 43) setting up Imran to concur England, six off Richards to seal the Nehru Cup’89, Australian soil’90 (197 runs & 17 wickets), regular exploits in Sharjah and that crowning glory of Worldcup’92.

By the dawn of nineties, Imran plucked another jewel from the green fields of Vehari and hence formed the legend of 2Ws. Together they remained the menace of the decade and dismantled any and every line-up around. Speaking of numbers, Wasim & Waqar averaged 21.33 and 22.92 in 61 Tests they ran-in together. In isolation the corresponding figures remained moderate 28.50 and 25.38.

Being Imran’s heir, captaincy for Wasim was an inevitability inevitable. Though the initial phase was marred with indigenous ground realities, the latter half of nineties saw Wasim’s men attaining distinctions in England’96, Sahara Cup’96, C/U Australia’97, India’99, and WorldCup’99. His captaincy earned Pakistan 78 International victories – second only to Imran’s 89, and remains the only Pakistani captain to win two tests in India.

Statistically too, Wasim has no peer – in past, present or near future. The maker of 257* from #8 in a test match, only bowler with twin hat-tricks in two eldest forms of the game and those 916 international wickets that stands herculieus-ly tall above his closest rivals i.e. Zaheer Khan (559) and Michell Johnson (367), who either have to transform themselves from being good to great or restore themselves playing minnows and Windies only; neither will happen and the folklore of Wasim will grow on.

Wasim always had the smarts for media and once done playing he replaced the leather ball with a paper script and started delivering on the pitch of glitterati with same old eccentricity – for ol’ fans it was business as usual.

Like for any of my age, those two couriered-from-heaven deliveries by Wasim in that final were enough to seal the deal for the rest of our lives. The enigma and benevolence only grew with watershed and sometimes unbelievable victories in England’92 – ‘96, New Zealand’93 – ‘94, and that famous 1-stick-standing home win against Australia’94 (Dickie Bird’s best test as an umpire) that only looked possible after 2Ws turned the mojo on!

So the love for the hero grew and came the day when Wasim – years into retirement from cricket – took the mantle to steward the first ever genuine cricket quiz show in Pakistan. Steering through the plethora of applicants I after a 10 months struggle made it to the show.

There were jitters, naturally, but eventually I believe I made a notable impression – pursing 80k and gaining valuable screen-time with Wasim Akram, who, as observed by the author, was articulate, witty, knowledgeable and dressed in an incredible suit. It goes without saying that he’s by far the biggest cricketer-turned-media-showman to hail from Pakistan and Wasim’s determination to conquer what inspired him inspires me to keep on striving!

Wasim Akram is the most gifted cricketer of the world. – Imran Khan.

Written and Contributed by: Hashim Malik.
For more information – info@wasimakramlive.com

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