Cricketers pick their favourites

'The most complete fast bowler I've seen'

Part two: Allan Donald on the most intimidating bowlers he has seen: Wasim Akram, the complete package

Producer: Gokul Chakravarthy, Interviewer: Nagraj Gollapudi

May 20, 2013


Wasim Akram

'The most complete fast bowler I've seen'

May 20, 2013

Wasim Akram bowls during a tour game, Lavina Duchess of Norfolk's XI v Pakistanis, Arundel, May 3, 1992

Wasim Akram When I first saw him was in the 1992 World Cup... I think that between him and myself, [we] probably ended up bowling the most number of wides in the whole competition but what struck me most about Wasim was his presence. And he was pretty, pretty swift at that stage... I think his greatest attribute was the way he swung the ball and how late he swung the ball. But having played against Wasim before that... and some of the Australian guys I [had] spoken to... especially Ian Healy said he was incredibly... he had a immense presence but he also had an immense presence in... in... in the area as I would call in the hot zone. And when I played against Wasim and I faced him for the first time in Pakistan, I found out how relentless he is...

And he bowled me a bouncer that hit me square on the side of my head which was... well, which was painful to say the least but the way he handled that, the way he came back in his second innings... And he bowled a spell that I'd probably never forget - in Manchester where he bowled really, really quick at me playing for Lancashire. And I think he nicked me off and the ball carried miles to the 'keeper. I just... everything about Wasim Akram was relentless... he swung the ball both ways. I think his greatest asset was... for me made him the ultimate bowler that he was... was being able to swing the ball when it was reversing both ways. He was the bowler for me that you could not tell which way it was swinging, you could not know what he was up to because he did it over the wicket and around the wicket and that to any batsman in the world was the most intimidating factor. And growing up in Pakistan on those really tough wickets, flat wickets, reversing the ball was their greatest skill and I think that that's for me why Wasim Akram was, I would say, the most complete quick bowler that I've ever come across and ever watched.

Gary Kirsten would be one of those who can testify for that because not only did he use the crease so smartly when he was coming over the wicket with the new ball, he found him very tough to line up because he swung the ball so late. I think that his stock delivery - swinging the ball out to the lefties - was a tough line to cover because he swung it from about middle and off stump and he'd use his in-swinger with the new ball very, very smartly because you just never knew when that was coming... and he'd drag you across the crease for some time. But also if anyone had probably one of the best bouncers in the game, it was him. There is no question about it... and that's why he would be my No. 1 most complete fast bowler that I've ever played against and watched.

Posted by harshthakor on (May 24, 2013, 4:55 GMT)

Combining test and one day Cricket Wasim was arguably the best of all paceman.However one factor exists that Wasim captured a great number of wickets of tail enders while Curtly Ambrose or Glen Mcgrath were more successful against the top order batsman or the prize wickets.Ambrose was a champion in winning games in the 4th innings after defending small targets while Mcgrath's consistency was phenomenal.Overall Lillee,Marshall and Imran posessed more match-winning agression tah Wasim.

I would rate Wasim Akram as the best of all Pakistan bowlers as he was outstanding in at trio of great paceman and was better than what Imran was in the first and final part of his career.Waqar Younus was quicker ,with abetter strike rtaebut did not posess Wasim's trajectory.If he had the same support from his fielders as Glen Mcgrath did Wasim would have performed even better.

Posted by harshthakor on (May 24, 2013, 4:47 GMT)

What is amazing is that Wasim was the best one day bowler of his era inspite of the fact that Ambrose was the most accurate and Mcgrath posessed the greatest control.It gives credibility to the one day game proving the need for innovation or inventiveness even in that form of the game.No bowler was as inventive or innovative as Wasim who resembled a musical composer.

Above all he mastered the placid sub-continent tracks where he took half his wickets.Where Ambrose or Mcgrath have the edge is their economy rate.Mcgrath was greatly helped by a strong Australian team,while Wasim was let down to some extent by his team -mates.

Strangely Wasim's best figures are 7-119 and that is the only time he has captured 7 or more wickets unlike Imran Khan who took 7 or more wicket hauls 5 times .He was not as much as a match-winner as Ambrose or predecessor Imran Khan.In the pantheon of greats overall he may be just below Lillee,Marshall,Hadlee and Mcgrath,just edging Imran.

Posted by harshthakor on (May 23, 2013, 16:04 GMT)

Wasim Akram is the most naturally talented paceman ever and the closest to the pace bowling genius.No paceman ever posessed a greater bowling repertoire or could do as much with a cricket ball as Wasim.He was simply a magician who could manipulate a cricket ball,like nobody else.He mastered reverse swinging a ball both ways in one delivery itself.

On figures Lillee,Hadlee,Mcgrath,Imran and Marshall were ahead.His figures never did justice to his skill or artistry.To me he lacked the aggression of Dennis Lillee and Malcolm Marshall .Glen Mcgrath and Curtly Ambrose were more accurate or Alan Donlad and Waqar Younus quicker but none had Wasim's variations or craft.

I would select Wasim in my alltime 11with his variation as a left-armer.

Posted by tony122 on (May 23, 2013, 4:57 GMT)

@Zsam. Was Donald a better bowler than Steyn? Did Tendulkar boost his average against Steuyn and it was easy? If Wasim is so good would tendulkar fared worse in 70's and 80's? Pitches in my opinion were the fastest in 90's. Watch youtube videos and how pitches in 70's, even likes of Gabba and MCG looked like dub continental pitches in a lots of games. I too cannot stand over hyping of past. But pat is long and not just the 90's.

Posted by   on (May 23, 2013, 0:32 GMT)

Wasim is without a shred of doubt most complete, intimidating and difficult fast bowler. He had killing yorker, dangerous bouncer, ability to generate awkward bounce, ability to make the bowl swing both way, equally effective with new and old ball, could destroy opposition on all type of surfaces and conditions. He is slightly under achiever in tests but never forget that in the initial part of his career, he bowled with Imran and later on with Waqar and Shoaib. He had immense variety and was exceedingly difficult to get away. I have seen him dominating all the batsmen who faced him. Most batsman of 90 and 00s have rated him as the most feared and difficult bowler of their era. Among the all time greats, he is surely among the very best with the likes of Imran, Lillee, Waqar, Marshal, Ambrose and Steyn etc.

Posted by Zsam on (May 22, 2013, 19:24 GMT)

@Jayesh, Sachin and Lara vs 90s attacks, Pakistan attack, with 2 Ws and Imran, both avg. in early 30s,Sachin 32 in 11 inngs, he batted, and Lara avg 30 in 13 inngs. .Again with Donald Sachin avg. 32 in 20 inngs and Lara 34 in 20 inngs.Not exactly all time stuff.I wonder how these two would have fared during the 70s and 80s era.Let me tell you, I am a big fan of Lara's artistry, and even like Sachin, but can't stand the hyping up!Both beefed up their avgs vs these teams post the retirement of these bowlers.

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