Cricketers pick their favourites

'He could hit the bottom of the stumps at will'

Part three: Allan Donald on the most intimidating bowlers he has seen: Waqar Younis, the ready wrecker

Produced by: Gokul Chakravarthy, Interviewer: Nagraj Gollapudi

May 28, 2013


Waqar Younis

'He could hit the bottom of the stumps at will'

May 28, 2013

Graham Thorpe is bowled by Waqar Younis for 10, England v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Old Trafford, 5th day, June 4, 2001
Waqar not only tried to break the batsman's foot, but also other parts of his body © Getty Images

I came across this young kid playing for Surrey in 1990*. Bob Cotton, who was our coach at Warwickshire, said that they have got this young Pakistani guy who bowls very, very quick. His name was Waqar Younis.

I'd never seen him bowl before. When I got to the ground the next morning, I asked Alec Stewart about this kid, you know, where did he come from. He said he's playing some club cricket here in London in the Surrey league and they immediately invited him to some trials and he made his debut against us.

He got 12 wickets in the game and it's the most that I've seen anyone hit the stumps regularly. I think that not only that, you talk about intimidating bowlers, this guy had an intimidating run-up. He charged in from quite a long way, swung the new ball at such pace. I think where his greatest asset was his speed through the air. He made the new ball talk. It was predictable, because he only swung it one way, which you could then set yourself up for, but at very, very high speed. You're talking about 90-95 miles an hour at best. But then he started to reverse the ball.

Now, Wasim [Akram] swung it both ways. Waqar swung it just into the right-hander, but he hardly missed his target. I think that he was also a very aggressive, fiesty young man. Really did let you know when he was around. You talk about top-order batsmen having to deal with him, but he was severe on tailenders. We'd just always talk [in] team meetings about not letting tailenders hang around. He made sure of that. And not only did he try and break your foot, but also some other parts of your body.

I think just his sheer speed through the air and where [he hit] the bottom of the stump at will is what made him such a wonderful bowler to watch.

The number of times as a young kid that he spent in Pakistan learning how to bowl in those flat wickets, learning the art of reverse swing, having control of that reverse swing was even more so impressive. Having played against Waqar over the years and his destruction down the order, you often sit there and you have to use the new ball, go hard at the new ball, because you know what you're going to get. The ball's going to reverse and these two guys are going to clean you up, as we found out.

The two Ws became unstoppable and feared across the world. The damage they have done wherever they have gone with Pakistan has been just fantastic. For me, those two are the best two I've ever played against. What made them so special is the competition between the two of them. They always tried to outdo each other, and I think there was an element of jealousy and that made them even more fearsome, because they wanted to outdo each other so badly. So those two are just fantastic to watch.

*03.25 GMT, May 28, 2013: The year was incorrectly mentioned as 1993. This has been changed

Posted by   on (May 29, 2013, 19:45 GMT)

There was certainly a tinge of jealousy between the two Ws. When Waseem Akram was the Captain, I always felt that he would give Waqar fewer spells with the ball. Waqar's stats also suffered as a result. Once Waseem was gone and Waqar was the Captain, things changed dramatically. He was taking wickets again; mainly because he was bowling more.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2013, 6:35 GMT)

Great tribute to one of the all time greats from one of the all time greats.

A wonderful listen/read

Posted by EverybodylovesSachin on (May 29, 2013, 3:09 GMT)

Visva Balaji -- Sachin beat them in world cup 2003 crucial world cup game and both retire after that game..

Posted by   on (May 28, 2013, 21:11 GMT)

Nobody could beat this W's duo.

Posted by Fahii on (May 28, 2013, 16:42 GMT)

He was built for kill..........comparison of waqar to early 1990 & late.....he just dropped little pace but again came back strongly. B lee smashed him with a six but waqar smiled & on next ball banana swing yorker......that was the blink of his early 1990. He used to practice bowling not with wickets but with pepsi bottle ......imagine how much he accurate was........amazing fast bowler but sad none seems to be like him now a days.

Posted by   on (May 28, 2013, 15:34 GMT)

Nice tribute from A.D but still missing many facts.Waqar's in dipper to left handers with the new ball was his trade mark, outswing, inswing, reverswing, toe crushing yorkers, handsome bowling action,ending careers of greats like bothams, falling batsman down on floor like laras,ability to ball with the old ball where other greats find it tough and gifting yorker to cricket, takes him far away than the rest. He changed the trend of fast bowling by bitching full.The most attacking bowler with come back ability where he can go for few boundaries but mostly ends up uprooting batsman stumps, not like G Mcgrath or great Akram bowling out side the off stump and waiting for batsman to edge.A little high economy rate coz of his attacking fast bowling yet It settles down with the great strike rates I.e. 30 and 43 in ODIs and tests respectively. He was far more fearsome for top order batsmen,(Chck cricinfo for total ducks)If you can't swing old ball at the down order, dnt take crdt from him plz.

Posted by   on (May 28, 2013, 14:12 GMT)

@ waspsting Waqar's stock delivery with the new ball was the outswinger. He lost it almost completely for a while - from 1992 (following his return from injury) to 1995 but got it back when he slowly returned to action against Sri Lanka in 1995 (played one test). During those three odd years, the inswinger replaced the away going ball and he struggled to take wickets early on. Following his return in 1995, the outswinger returned and was very visible during the World Series Cup in 1996-1997. His famous flooring of Lara was also with an outswinger with the new ball (to the right-hander). With the old ball, he developed a straighter non-swinging delivery which compensated for his lack of outswinger. He would bowl this from very close to the stumps to get LBWs against lefties. But basically, the crippling injury suffered during the 1998 Zimbabwe tour marked the beginning of the end. By 1998, he had 275 wickets from 55. After that he only got 98 from 32.

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