Indian tour of Australia November 19, 2003

BCCI rubbishes Akram story

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Wasim Akram: mentor to India's new generation?
© Getty

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has rubbished reports that Wasim Akram was set to be appointed as India's fast bowling coach. John Wright, whose name was mentioned in the initial story as one of those who had recommended Akram's services to the board, also denied having done any such thing. And to top it all off, Akram now says Wright asked him to help out, rather than coach on a full-time basis.

The early media reports had quoted Sourav Ganguly as saying, "To me, Akram is greatest fast bowler of the modern era. And I feel that since he is left-handed Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Irfan Patham will benefit from his tips. Akram has always been helpful to junior cricketers. So we decided to propose his name to the Board." They had also suggested that the Wright-Ganguly combination had made a proposal to the board.

But in a coversation with, Wright vehemently denied any involvement. "Rubbish," he said. "I have not made any representation to the Board in this regard. The statements attributed to me are not true."

Akram had recently started working as a commentator with ESPN-Star Sports, and is expected to be in Australia next month as a summariser for India's tour. In addition to being the most prolific wicket-taker in the history of the international game (414 Test wickets, 502 in ODIs), he was a source of inspiration to a whole generation of younger quick bowlers. The very fact that Zaheer, Nehra and Pathan all bowl left-handed says much about the impact he had, and his ability to transcend borders.

Akram himself says that Wright had asked him to help out, though a formal position was not on the cards. "He [Wright] has been requesting me to help out the boys for sometime now, not coach. And I would love to do it."

"Some of the boys like Ashish [Nehra] and Zaheer do call me from time to time, asking for tips and suggestions. I have always found time for a chat. I shall continue doing so on tour."

Not everyone's thrilled by the idea of Akram coaching India's new generation. Najmul Abbas, who had previously filed a suit against Akram for appearing in a a liquor company's ad campaign in India, has approached a court in Lahore, and asked that Akram be prevented from taking up a coaching assignment in India. "India is our enemy," said the petition, "and for money Akram should not be allowed to coach the enemy. It's tantamount to a retired army officer training the Indian Army."

As you might have read in Alice and Wonderland, curiouser and curiouser...