World Cup 2007 April 1, 2007

Hail McGrath but remember Wasim

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Wasim Akram is the greatest bowler of his generation © Getty Images

Glenn McGrath, the human metronome, took Wasim Akram's record of most wickets in World Cup cricket. Australia have dominated the World Cup since Pakistan beat them at Headingley in 1999 thanks largely to McGrath's brilliance and the record is well deserved.

It says something about Pakistan's World Cup that their only bowler to set a world record in this tournament was Mohammad Yousuf who took a wicket with his only ball.

About the only positive I will take away from this tournament from a Pakistani perspective is the way that his contemporaries have acclaimed Wasim Akram as the greatest bowler of his generation. When that accolade comes from Brian Lara, the greatest batsman of the same generation, then that is high praise indeed.

Similarly, a host of Australians have stood up at the moment of McGrath's achievement to agree with Lara. That's saying something too since these are Australians who played in the last two decades, when their team ruled world cricket.

(As an aside, it has been interesting to hear the insight of Australian cricketers who have turned to commentary--I have always been impressed by Michael Slater but Damien Fleming has been a revelation. It just shows that success at cricket requires sharp brains, a topic I will return to in relation to Pakistan cricket.)

Wasim Akram was a colossus in world cricket, and the World Cup story was closely entwined with his own in the 1990s. It began with an inspirational triumph in 1992, when his late order hitting and double wicket burst swung the final for Pakistan. Everybody already knew that Wasim could make the ball talk but he went and did in a World Cup final.

Post Imran, the future looked to belong to Wasim but it never properly worked out the way it should have. In 1996, he missed the quarter-final defeat to India with a rib injury. And the 1999 campaign was a triumph but for the disaster of the final and a stumble against Bangladesh. On both occasions, as now, unsubstantiated accusations of match-fixing complicated the mourning.

That 1999 side, to my mind, was probably the best Pakistan has ever fielded at a World Cup and they played like world beaters. Waqar Younis was 12th man for heaven's sake. Indeed, the victory over Australia at Headingley was perhaps the finest by a Pakistan team in a World Cup outside the final two performances in 1992.

The resources available to Pakistan cricket in the 1990s allowed an administrative complacency to set in that has encouraged its foundations to crumble away. It created a complacency among the players too that manifested itself in sometimes hopeless performances.

Despite all his records, many people wonder if Wasim and his team could have achieved even more? Perhaps he and they could have. But let's remember he achieved all he did despite a career made more difficult by diabetes and the crazy politics of Pakistan cricket. Let's also remember that, like McGrath and like Lara, he achieved the utmost respect of his contemporaries. No higher praise is possible.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fanedlive on May 16, 2009, 17:01 GMT

    Very nice site!

  • fanedlive on May 13, 2009, 1:05 GMT

    Very nice site!

  • fanedlive on June 21, 2008, 13:36 GMT

    Sachin is best Bat and Warne is best bowler... No dispute....

  • fanedlive on October 7, 2007, 19:56 GMT

    I think Wasim Akram is the greatest bowler of all times, the complete bowler.He had the pace,swing both conventional and reverse,control,variety and what not.The best bowler under all conditions and pressures that i have seen.All the great batsmen of his era including lara,sachin,steve waugh,ponting... agrees that he is one of the very few greatest bowlers of all times.We miss you Wasim the great.

  • fanedlive on April 13, 2007, 11:29 GMT

    hi i m zafar iqbal from gorakhpur (india) i m great fan of wasim akran no one equal of that he was agreat bowler of the world when i saw the matcha of that person i was very happy that time now this time i do not see more bcz wasim bhai action is very good. i would like to say from wasim bhai wherever you live i pray from allah u live fine i m great fan and younger brother of wasim akram allah hafiz

  • fanedlive on April 9, 2007, 21:18 GMT

    WASIM.. The man was the greatest cricketer to walk the face of Earth.. A complete natural who did wonders with the red cherry.. Also more of an enigma and definitely more colourful than McGrath.. Wasim is truly the greatest..

  • fanedlive on April 8, 2007, 2:39 GMT

    wasim is the greatest bowler to ever play cricket, to get wickets on such batsmen paradise wickets of the subcontinent. I have never seen mcgrath ever bowl like that on subcontinent, he always has a big total to defend, when wasim was playing, pakistan didnt give him big totals to defend but he did it, that illustrates a legend

  • fanedlive on April 7, 2007, 20:05 GMT

    Wasim was a great bowler but lives in McGrath's shadow due to his suspect attitude. No one would could ever have imagined McGrath crying off injured before a Test after seeing a flat pitch as Wasim did on a number of occassions later in his career.

  • fanedlive on April 7, 2007, 17:57 GMT

    i m agree with u mr.azhar.waqar is a better bowler den wasim even he played less cricket den wasim.he was a real strike bowler.he is a real patriot and sincere to his game.wasim is good but waqar is better.if waqar had played matches as wasim played den waqar would have many mor wickets den wasim.so stop avoding waqarrr he rocks after him it is imran and great ever mcgrath

  • fanedlive on April 7, 2007, 9:40 GMT

    I believe that With all Controversy Waseem Akram is the living Legend of Pakistani Cricket. He's a kind of Bowler who can take wicket at any time.

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