Wasim Akram November 7, 2008

The sorcerer

His deception and the ability to test every part of a batsman's game made Wasim Akram truly great
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The left arm of God © Getty Images

Wasim Akram was the master swing bowler of the modern era. With Waqar Younis he formed one of the most lethal fast-bowling partnerships in the history of the game. When Wasim and Waqar were in their pomp during the mid-1990s they were a formidable force, decimating batting line-ups, and making Pakistan one of the world's best teams.

Wasim provided a finesse in his bowling that was rare in fast bowlers. Waqar, the perfect foil, pounded in to bowl fast and furiously. He also had great skill, but Wasim was the magician when it came to deception.

I only played against Wasim on a handful of occasions at the tail-end of his career. The first time was in the Champions Trophy in Kenya. He bowled just one delivery at me - a fast, skiddy bouncer that I ducked under. The next time was in Sharjah, where he uprooted my stumps with a vicious, swinging yorker with the new ball. The only time I prospered was in an innings in Morocco, back in 2002. During those brief encounters I discovered first-hand just why the world's great batsmen, the Tendulkars, Laras, de Silvas and Jayasuriyas, spoke of Wasim with such awe and respect.

Wasim was probably the most skilful and deceptive fast bowler I have watched. Nothing was ever the same twice in a row. He tested every single part of your game as a batsman, probing away for chinks in your technique.

He would seem to be rushing towards you at the end of his run-up. He had great balance and a quick arm action, coupled with very strong shoulders, and had the ability to bowl deliveries that could be anywhere between 120 and 145kph with no discernible change in his action. This rapid change in pace from one delivery to the next was lethal.

Long before I seriously thought about a future career in cricket, I remember watching two of the most unforgettable deliveries ever, in the final of the 1992 World Cup. England were chasing 249 for victory and going well on 141 for 4 when Wasim came back for a mid-innings spell.

The first ball was the one round the wicket to Allan Lamb, England's match-winner during that period. The ball seemed to swing into the batsman, only to nip away at the last minute and take his off stump. It was a wicked, unplayable delivery. The next was perhaps even better, swinging about two feet to bowl Chris Lewis first ball. Lewis looked dumbfounded.

These deliveries were produced in the middle of the innings with the old ball. It was this unmatched ability to reverse-swing the ball that was Wasim's hallmark. It was an ability that was dogged by controversy, with many accusations around the world that reverse swing was the product of ball-tampering. I think these controversies took the focus away from what was a supreme skill.

Fast bowlers need to be able to bowl on any wickets with a ball that's in any condition. That is the true test of a bowler's skill. Wasim was able to do that. Flat pitches, slow pitches, quick pitches - he was an ever-present threat on them all. Some quick bowlers thrive only when the pitch has zest and lift; not Wasim.

I remember being on tour in Bangladesh when Wasim was a TV commentator. We invited him to share the secrets of reverse swing with our team. He was happy to do so. Indeed, he was always obliging and quick to share his vast knowledge and experience with us and other fellow cricketers.

 
 
Wasim was probably the most skilful and deceptive fast bowler I have watched. Nothing was ever the same twice in a row
 

He told us how the fielders and the bowlers needed to take the utmost care to prevent any moisture touching one side of the ball, so it could become rough, while keeping the other shined and smooth. He then explained in detail the complexities of wrist position, arm speed, and angles. It was fascinating.

Wasim's cricket career was not always smooth. When he was captain, there seemed to be regular rumours of dissatisfaction within the team. Pakistan has historically been a team that has always suffered from partisanship and power struggles, and captains of Pakistan have always needed to be very strong mentally to be able to withstand the pressures of leading a hugely talented but sometimes temperamental side. Talks of petitions being signed against the captain, of the captaincy changing hands, were a constant reality for Wasim when he was in charge.

Yet, for all this pressure and the nasty off-field politicking, it's a testament to his strength of character and his zest for the game that he still became a true legend of the sport; a man who could make the cricket ball talk; a man who was a lethal bowler at every stage of his career, and who would still be so if he decided to pick up a ball today. He played the game hard and with skill, lived life fully, and let his skill rise above petty controversies and squabbles.

If I were given the opportunity to challenge my skill as a batsman by picking bowlers from history whom to face, Wasim would be an automatic choice. Perhaps the greatest tribute you can pay him is that in the current era of fast bowlers there is no one who can be judged to be in the same class. He was a once-in-a-generation cricketer who lifted fast bowling to new levels, and helped carry Pakistan to the top of world cricket. A true legend.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY vivkr on | November 9, 2008, 16:55 GMT

    A wholly earned tribute. One admired his skills as much as one pitied the poor bastman. Unfortunately, the English media has followed the motto-"If they can do things we cannot, then they must be cheating." The Pakistanis brought pioneering ball skills, as has been rightly acknowledged by legends like Lilee and Thompson, and brandished as cheating by mediocre England and the Darell Hairs. This although the only convincing case of ball tampering was Michael Atherton at Lords against SA with his "Alladin trick". Now that Troy Cooley has taught them how to reverse swing, there's no talk of ball tampering.

    The Akrams and Warnes and Muralitharans are masters who can make the ball talk under all conditions, and one hopes for more, and also hopes that there will be less talk of subcontinental teams winning at home only because of the pitches. Cricket is a surface game and good teams need to win on all surfaces. So instead of complaining, they had better produce more Akrams !!!

  • POSTED BY TMAK on | November 9, 2008, 12:53 GMT

    Truly well-written Sanga! This is what a great sportsman can write about another great sportsman! Wasim was truly a sensation. To me, his best was when he was bowling in the first test in India after so long and the delivery that got Dravid and Tendulkar out. They were supreme examples of swing and control. A magnificent swing sultan and truly the best left arm fast bowler in the history of cricket! Keep it coming Sanga!

  • POSTED BY Nomiji on | November 9, 2008, 11:07 GMT

    People may think I am exaggerating but his action packed bowling was full of Thrill, drama and suspense. I always anxiously watched his expressions and tried to read his lips during matches. You can never be sure what is coming next during his spell. He used to become lethal if bothered by the wrong umpiring decisions like it happened in Australian tour after world cup 99. He was the best and will remain unmatched because there is no one in the same league. Cricket is no more that exciting after he left. I wish we can have him as a bowling coach for Pakistan to see some hints of him in our new generation.

  • POSTED BY faisalnoor70 on | November 8, 2008, 20:19 GMT

    It was summer of 1985. a local tournament was held on a cement pitch in Samanabad Lahore. All the bowlers, including Qadir and Mohsin Lamal were taken to cleaners, because on the cement pitch the ball never moves and comes straight at you with speed, with good timing batsman can just butcher the bowler. So in the final, we heard Akram was coming to play from the shining club. The ground was all packed, with me sitting on the boundary line with my cousins. The ball was given to Wasim and he had midpitch talk to the keeper, here is the conversation that still remains in my brain, "Wasim : meri gaind phar layenga?" (Will you be able to keep to my bowling?") "Keeper: koshish karanga" ( I will try,) "Wasim: Chal pichhee chalaa ja, boundary te?" (just go back to the boundary line)

    We were in shock and awe to see his bowling, no batsmen had any clue to play him on that cement pitch. One ball hit the edge and went to six flying over the keepers head. No one was able to hit him.

  • POSTED BY Raja.Khurram on | November 8, 2008, 19:13 GMT

    I guess we can take pride in the fact that we saw the whole era of Wasim and Waqar. With 20/20 cricket and balls changing in 34th over, I doubt we will ever see such sheer quality of fast bowling ever again...

  • POSTED BY rtom on | November 8, 2008, 17:30 GMT

    i being an indian, admire Wasim Akram for his sheer ability of bowling amazing outswingers and inswingers with no much difference in the style. For me he is the best. when he was bowling, it was sure that something gonna happen. i would pay to watch his bowling just as much as much to watch tendulkar batting.

  • POSTED BY Sorcerer on | November 8, 2008, 16:36 GMT

    In terms of variety and guile, Wasim has to be the greatest bowler of all-time along with Warne. In pure aesthetic terms, his bowling enchantment is unparalleled. The most devastating I've seen him bowl was in tandem with Waqar in a Test in NZ when the pair bowled unchanged in the fourth innings of the match with the opposition requiring just over a 100 for a win, charging in with lethal armory to knock over the whole Kiwi line-up in a matter of just over two hours - simply awesome.

  • POSTED BY wakeel on | November 8, 2008, 16:02 GMT

    i m sure of one thing, its only because of Wasim Akram tht millions in pakistan watch cricket today...and millions have left watching it because he has left playing..no doubt he was the biggest asset for Pakistan cricket and a cricketer like him is born once!! only once..people today can hope to see a bowler a bit like wasim but no one can match standards that wasim has..and i am only one of his die-hard fans.thanks Wasim Akram from bring passion to this game.

  • POSTED BY vparisa on | November 8, 2008, 14:28 GMT

    I think he is one of Pakistan cricketers who has got more fan following in India. People in India love him and for many aspiring Indian bowlers, he is GOD. A simple action, a strong wrist position, deceptive pace , toe crushing yorkers, the unplayable reverses and a great cricketing brain makes him my favorite bowler!!

  • POSTED BY PakCricFanatic on | November 8, 2008, 12:55 GMT

    Great article, Well what can we say for a bowler like Wasim. Greates fast bowler the world has ever seen, King of Swing, Big Daddy of all when it come to reverse swing. He has bowled many magic deliveries, wew guys only remember the ones of which he has taken wickets. To me one of his many great deliveries was yorker which he bowled to Robert Croft it almost swung twice, umpire gave it not out. Has 4 hat tricks at international level. It was apure pleasure to watch him bowl. Any wickets any conditions he was always a great threat thats what made him great. When people say that he his the best left armer of all time they are not doing justice he is the best of all time.Once Allan border said he would like to be reborn as wasim akram. Legends like viv and lara rated him very highly. What a magician what a bowler aaaaaaaah! and a great striker of the bowl with a highest score of 257* what a talent truely the greatest.

  • POSTED BY vivkr on | November 9, 2008, 16:55 GMT

    A wholly earned tribute. One admired his skills as much as one pitied the poor bastman. Unfortunately, the English media has followed the motto-"If they can do things we cannot, then they must be cheating." The Pakistanis brought pioneering ball skills, as has been rightly acknowledged by legends like Lilee and Thompson, and brandished as cheating by mediocre England and the Darell Hairs. This although the only convincing case of ball tampering was Michael Atherton at Lords against SA with his "Alladin trick". Now that Troy Cooley has taught them how to reverse swing, there's no talk of ball tampering.

    The Akrams and Warnes and Muralitharans are masters who can make the ball talk under all conditions, and one hopes for more, and also hopes that there will be less talk of subcontinental teams winning at home only because of the pitches. Cricket is a surface game and good teams need to win on all surfaces. So instead of complaining, they had better produce more Akrams !!!

  • POSTED BY TMAK on | November 9, 2008, 12:53 GMT

    Truly well-written Sanga! This is what a great sportsman can write about another great sportsman! Wasim was truly a sensation. To me, his best was when he was bowling in the first test in India after so long and the delivery that got Dravid and Tendulkar out. They were supreme examples of swing and control. A magnificent swing sultan and truly the best left arm fast bowler in the history of cricket! Keep it coming Sanga!

  • POSTED BY Nomiji on | November 9, 2008, 11:07 GMT

    People may think I am exaggerating but his action packed bowling was full of Thrill, drama and suspense. I always anxiously watched his expressions and tried to read his lips during matches. You can never be sure what is coming next during his spell. He used to become lethal if bothered by the wrong umpiring decisions like it happened in Australian tour after world cup 99. He was the best and will remain unmatched because there is no one in the same league. Cricket is no more that exciting after he left. I wish we can have him as a bowling coach for Pakistan to see some hints of him in our new generation.

  • POSTED BY faisalnoor70 on | November 8, 2008, 20:19 GMT

    It was summer of 1985. a local tournament was held on a cement pitch in Samanabad Lahore. All the bowlers, including Qadir and Mohsin Lamal were taken to cleaners, because on the cement pitch the ball never moves and comes straight at you with speed, with good timing batsman can just butcher the bowler. So in the final, we heard Akram was coming to play from the shining club. The ground was all packed, with me sitting on the boundary line with my cousins. The ball was given to Wasim and he had midpitch talk to the keeper, here is the conversation that still remains in my brain, "Wasim : meri gaind phar layenga?" (Will you be able to keep to my bowling?") "Keeper: koshish karanga" ( I will try,) "Wasim: Chal pichhee chalaa ja, boundary te?" (just go back to the boundary line)

    We were in shock and awe to see his bowling, no batsmen had any clue to play him on that cement pitch. One ball hit the edge and went to six flying over the keepers head. No one was able to hit him.

  • POSTED BY Raja.Khurram on | November 8, 2008, 19:13 GMT

    I guess we can take pride in the fact that we saw the whole era of Wasim and Waqar. With 20/20 cricket and balls changing in 34th over, I doubt we will ever see such sheer quality of fast bowling ever again...

  • POSTED BY rtom on | November 8, 2008, 17:30 GMT

    i being an indian, admire Wasim Akram for his sheer ability of bowling amazing outswingers and inswingers with no much difference in the style. For me he is the best. when he was bowling, it was sure that something gonna happen. i would pay to watch his bowling just as much as much to watch tendulkar batting.

  • POSTED BY Sorcerer on | November 8, 2008, 16:36 GMT

    In terms of variety and guile, Wasim has to be the greatest bowler of all-time along with Warne. In pure aesthetic terms, his bowling enchantment is unparalleled. The most devastating I've seen him bowl was in tandem with Waqar in a Test in NZ when the pair bowled unchanged in the fourth innings of the match with the opposition requiring just over a 100 for a win, charging in with lethal armory to knock over the whole Kiwi line-up in a matter of just over two hours - simply awesome.

  • POSTED BY wakeel on | November 8, 2008, 16:02 GMT

    i m sure of one thing, its only because of Wasim Akram tht millions in pakistan watch cricket today...and millions have left watching it because he has left playing..no doubt he was the biggest asset for Pakistan cricket and a cricketer like him is born once!! only once..people today can hope to see a bowler a bit like wasim but no one can match standards that wasim has..and i am only one of his die-hard fans.thanks Wasim Akram from bring passion to this game.

  • POSTED BY vparisa on | November 8, 2008, 14:28 GMT

    I think he is one of Pakistan cricketers who has got more fan following in India. People in India love him and for many aspiring Indian bowlers, he is GOD. A simple action, a strong wrist position, deceptive pace , toe crushing yorkers, the unplayable reverses and a great cricketing brain makes him my favorite bowler!!

  • POSTED BY PakCricFanatic on | November 8, 2008, 12:55 GMT

    Great article, Well what can we say for a bowler like Wasim. Greates fast bowler the world has ever seen, King of Swing, Big Daddy of all when it come to reverse swing. He has bowled many magic deliveries, wew guys only remember the ones of which he has taken wickets. To me one of his many great deliveries was yorker which he bowled to Robert Croft it almost swung twice, umpire gave it not out. Has 4 hat tricks at international level. It was apure pleasure to watch him bowl. Any wickets any conditions he was always a great threat thats what made him great. When people say that he his the best left armer of all time they are not doing justice he is the best of all time.Once Allan border said he would like to be reborn as wasim akram. Legends like viv and lara rated him very highly. What a magician what a bowler aaaaaaaah! and a great striker of the bowl with a highest score of 257* what a talent truely the greatest.

  • POSTED BY AshAlam on | November 8, 2008, 12:37 GMT

    Wasim Akram was the greatest bowler that the world has ever seen. Not only he was a king bowler but also a good hard hitting batsman. I used to pray for his every single ball even if he was playing against my country. I was such a great fan of him. He was a legend and I think ICC or the cricket pundits should address him with 'Sir' Wasim Akram.

  • POSTED BY Baton100 on | November 8, 2008, 10:51 GMT

    Wasim Akram is the most attracting, unpredictable cricketer I have seen., He can ball like no one and can bat like top order batsman,his highest score in tests is 257. Undoubtably he is the most exciting cricketer we've seen. I agree that he has more variety to his bowling than any other and I think only Shane Warne has that kind of varieties while bowling. I remember one time in his carrer he was well away to break the land mark of Richard Hadlee's 431 wickets in 86 matches. I think he fell behind because of the personal matters he had during that period. I bet no batsman felt comfortable while playing against him. We can see great batsmen and bowlers emerging but I don't think there will be another Wasim Akram.

  • POSTED BY Philip_Gnana on | November 8, 2008, 9:21 GMT

    It is truely great to see great scripts about great sportsmen. Well written Sanga. Yes, the true master of deception, swing & reverse swing. Wasin truely raised the benchmark for fast bowlers. We see many left armers taking after him and mentioning Wasim as their model. Another great bowler was Malcom Marshall who used to get the ball to kick off the wicket. I need to mention Marshall here as his name is worth of mention. As a captain he did have to undergo numerous tests of disention and back biting by fellow team mates. I recall Jimmy Adams mentioning that Wasim was hardest bowler that he had had to face. That coming from a West Indian cricketer says it all. It is sad that Shoaib Akthar did not take Wasim's advice in shortening his run up. This would have help Shoaib on the longer run. That now seems to be history. A great partnership with Waqar - the cleanest of actions from both these fast bowlers. Keep these pieces rolling in Sanga. Nice one. Philip Gnana, New Malden Surrey.

  • POSTED BY divakaraj on | November 8, 2008, 9:18 GMT

    sanga,,,, your english is too good..wasim akaram was indeed a true legend.his action was very difficult to copy.i also rate his 5 wicket haul against australia in the wc 03 veryhigh.of cource pakistan lost that match after symond`s pyrotechniques...but akram`s effort was great..remember he was in the fag end of his career and the team was australia..his ability to swing the old and new ball on all conditions and all surfaces was truly outstanding..as kumar says "a true legend"

  • POSTED BY jdgoal14 on | November 8, 2008, 8:27 GMT

    Wasim was truly one of the greats in fast bowling. A true Magician as stated by Sanga. Seemed to do things with the ball that no other fast bowler has even come close to achieving. Even on batsmen friendly pitches seemed to be an absolute threat!! I remembered a certain test series in England where he along with Waqar bowled some lovely deliveries to confound batsmen!! Not only a bowler but his batting was danger to the opposition as well. Often remember him swatting at the ball about 10 rows back to the crowds, such was the power of his strokes!!

  • POSTED BY skr346 on | November 8, 2008, 7:42 GMT

    Great article!!!I am an Indian and I have watched Wasim's entire career, starting from his debut in NZL all the way to his retirement. He was an awesome bowler - In my opinion, he was the best fast bowler this game has ever seen. I have seen Gavaskar, Richards, Martin Crowe, Lara, Tendulkar, D'Silv all of them playing against Akram but no one was ever comfortable. No one could dominate him even when they were at the peak of their form. There was something unique about him and I think it was his variation plus an unusual action which made all batsmen uncomfortable. In addition to that, he had amazing control over his line and length. If you have played cricket and you see his bowling, you can almost feel how difficult it would have been to face him. He must have won more than 50-60 matches on his own for his country. What a bowler!!!

  • POSTED BY naarayanan on | November 8, 2008, 3:44 GMT

    i still remember the 1992-93 series of pakistan in england, where wasim and waqar share more than 50 wickets among them. while wasim provided initial breakthroughs, waqar will cleanly wipe off the tail.

    wasim was the most versatile fast bowler ever. in his second half of the career, he almost had a runup of a spin bowler, but produced extraordinary fast bowling. i remember a pakistan tour of south africa, when the awestruck commentator wondered, ' what a bowler this man is, this over had six different balls', and the great gavaskar was that commentator.

    waqar was the fastest of his times, asking the batsmen,'what do you want your leg or stump'? with his highly precise swinging yorkers. great duo.

  • POSTED BY Deep_N on | November 8, 2008, 2:54 GMT

    One of my fav cricketers along with Steve 'tugga' Waugh... and what an tremendous bowler he was, 'Wasim Bhai' ! Fighting diabetes with 3 injection shots a day even while playing... The only bowler i have seen to bowl 6 different balls in one single over ! the other one, you can say Warne, may be :)

  • POSTED BY Moblicious on | November 7, 2008, 23:00 GMT

    I would like to share another story related to Wasim Akram. After few months of Wasim's retirement he was visiting India and a known personality and a cricket fanatic was very keen to face him in the nets. Wasim agreed to bowl to him and he had someone video taping it while wasim was bowling him casually. After bowling him a delivery or two Wasim realised that this guy can bat a bit. He was stretching his front foot out to look good in the video being tapped. Wasim was clearly getting agitated by his poses for camera where he was making the legendary bowler such moderate. Adding fuel to fire he asks Wasim to bowl so "testing delivery" infect asked him to bowl from his orignal run and that pissed the heck out of Wasim.

    He goes back and pitch one just a bit short and with a little more kick in it and guess what that guy was on the floor for next 15 minutes infect taken to the hospital. ..h

    Wasim goes

  • POSTED BY Moblicious on | November 7, 2008, 22:52 GMT

    Great article by Sanga. He was a true magician with the cricket ball and as sanga said in his article he could make the ball talk. Along with the WorldCup 1992 dismisals of Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis, I rank his Rahul Dravid dismisal right on the top. Two deliveries before he clipped Rahul's off-stump bail he bowled him an in-swinger and an Indian umpire declined a plumb LBW appeal. Than he bowls another in-swinger that Dravid was ready to negotiate. Reading the bastman's mind Wasim Akram bowls outswinger that pitches outside the leg-stumps and goes on to hit the off stump bail, leaving Rahul Dravid and commentators ( Ravi Shastri & Rameez) bamboozled. He was a true class and a real fascination to watch in the cricket field.

  • POSTED BY Mozinfodz on | November 7, 2008, 22:19 GMT

    Salam. I am a Pakistani and I love cricket. There have been a lot of great fast bowlers in the history of the game. I have not seen a lot of them bowl, but among those whom I have seen with my eyes, there are some greats like Walsh, Ambrose, McGrath, Imran, Kapil, Waqar, Sarfraz, Fleming, Vaas, Botham. But in my personal Opinion Wasim Akram stays above them. I agree with the writer that he was the grand master of the deception. He was a bowler who could bowl six different classics on each ball of his one over. But what a pity, that such a gem was dragged to the controversies. Politics in the game spoils the beauty of the game. The great B.C.Lara regards Wasim as the toughest bowler to play against. He was great. He is great. And he will be the greatest.

  • POSTED BY asad114 on | November 7, 2008, 22:10 GMT

    Thank you Sanga for that marvellous article. For us Pakistanis, for 18 years Wasim's brilliance was a given, we grew so used to it that after a while we just assumed that Wasim would always be there to bail us out. The sheer thrill, the sheer delight that he provided to us was his greatest legacy. It is a delight when amidst all the mechanical, boring, unimaginative bowlers like Glen McGrath, you find someone as naturally talented, as charismatic, as versatile and as devastating as Wasim. Thank you Wasim, you will always be our king!

  • POSTED BY hydi_nawabs on | November 7, 2008, 21:55 GMT

    Thanks Sanga for the wonderful article.Very well written. Wasim Akram is truly a legend. He took the game to altogether a different league with his fast bowling style. His commitment and dedication to the game is commendable. The current generation fast bowlers have lot to learn from this wonderful cricketer. Always enjoyed watching him play.

  • POSTED BY Azfar on | November 7, 2008, 20:07 GMT

    Congrats Sanga, on another great article. Well, Wasim was Cricket's number one box office hit, the modern day Keith Miller. He was a magician with the ball. With his great variety he made even the best batsmen look silly. Of all the fast bowlers I have seen since I started following Cricket in 1981, I would rate him as the best, above the West Indian pace battery of Marshall, Holding, Roberts, Garner, Ambrose,Walsh and above Hadlee,Imran,McGrath, Pollock,Donald,Younus. As Sanga says, the greatest quality Wasim had was he was a threat on any track and in all conditions. He was a joy to watch. And it was apparent that he enjoyed the game to the full. He still retains his boyish charm.

  • POSTED BY The_other_side on | November 7, 2008, 19:31 GMT

    Best left arm bowler ever to have graced the test scene. I have not seen Allan Davidson but I am sure Wasim Akram is better. Great article by Sanga- Apart from those two balls,the one moment I remember is the ball to Rahul Dravid in Chennai test, 1999 and more than one hattrick in both forms of cricket. I still remember Akram rattling timber of 4 batsman aginst Australia in B&H cup 1984 as a youngster playing his second or third game. A legend.. It would have been nice if his batting exploits were highlighted too, like century and 5 wickets at Adelaide and double century at Sheikupura.

  • POSTED BY 7thstrider on | November 7, 2008, 18:51 GMT

    Truly wonderful read. I've been visiting cricinfo for quite some time but this is the first article that's got me to register and offer my thoughts. Wasim Akram for me was the best fast bowler of all times and easily the hardest bowler to overcome for a batsman. I don't know if Sanga sees the comments posted but I'd like to tell him that I rememver Wasim's 450th one-day wicket very well. The ball pitched on off-stump with an initial In-swing for the left-hander and then darted towards the slip, kissing the edge of the bat in the process. The unlucky Batsman was Kumar Sangakkara.

  • POSTED BY spreddy1 on | November 7, 2008, 17:25 GMT

    Wasim Akram, a perfect and a genuine swing bowler, had upperhand against many batsmen during his time. The master has taught the art of reverse swing to many bowlers in the current generation. I am a great fan of his yorkers. His versatility in bowling various deliveries and using the crease really well are some aspects of his game which puts him really apart from other bowlers. He was a true legend of the game in world cricket.

  • POSTED BY ahsanraja on | November 7, 2008, 16:39 GMT

    Dream bowler. He had everything. Loved watching him bowl.

  • POSTED BY XeekWild on | November 7, 2008, 16:26 GMT

    Great article Sanga! Besides I truly consider myself privileged to have seen some great cricketing talents of our era which were none better than Akram. He will or rather certainly is being missed.

  • POSTED BY Junoonis on | November 7, 2008, 15:22 GMT

    Thank you for writing such a wonderful article. I can never get bored reading about great Wasim Akram. Like many others here, I still remember waking up early mornings or middle of night to watch wasim akram open the bowling for Pakistan. It was just a treat to watch him bowl with that amazing action; no one would be surprise if he takes a wicket in the first over. It's sad that due to non cricket reasons Pakistan never become they team they could've under wasim. I think no one remember any other bowler specific balls like we all remember those 2 balls he bowled in world cup. A true legend, I hope PCB wake up and pay him whatever he ask for coaching Pakistani bowlers.

  • POSTED BY ricflair on | November 7, 2008, 15:11 GMT

    Ask any Indian who their fav. Pak cricketer is and inevitably, it's Wasim. He even offered to be our bowling coach but the close-minded men at the top don't want him involved in our team. How sad!

  • POSTED BY ricflair on | November 7, 2008, 15:09 GMT

    All the ones who accuse him of ball tampering are merely jealous and looking for excuses. I am an Indian but used to support Pak right from the day I watched Wasim hit that second-last ball six against WI in 1987-88. He is the greatest bowler of all time but his exploits with the bat should not be forgotten either. True comments about the internal politics in the Pak side but he never let that affect his game. Nice article, as usual!

  • POSTED BY Gudfala on | November 7, 2008, 14:16 GMT

    I always wished he had been born Australian! He was the ultimate fast bowler as far as I'm concerned. His in-swinging yorkers are in my opinion some of the best balls bowled by a fast bowler ever. And I'll never forget seeing him when I was young at Manuka oval in Canberra at a Prime Minister's XI game. Admittedly I was about 13 - be I just remember being overwhelmed by his size - he looked as strong as an ox. Must have been a terrifying experience for some of the less skilled batsmen who had to face him.

  • POSTED BY prashant1 on | November 7, 2008, 13:55 GMT

    Terrific,again,Sanga. Keep 'em coming. You could probably compile them into a book. Would make a bestseller!

  • POSTED BY bantaa on | November 7, 2008, 13:54 GMT

    Wasim Akram is a true legend for world cricket. His exploits with the leather ball coupled with Imran Khan's excellent leadership qualities propelled Pakistan to the top of the game during the 90's. One of his greatest assets was the excitement he brought to the cricket field when playing. Even during the later part of his career, one could always see him celebrate each wicket he got as if it was his first. It was this sheer joy that he got out of playing that kept him going through all the controversies and personal setbacks (he was diabetic). His man management skills improved tremendously over time and he got some great results out of his team. Shoaib Akhtar probably performed the best under his leadership. It is sad that the PCB has not benefited from Wasim's experience after his retirement. I don't see anyone more qualified than him to assume the role of Pakistan's bowling coach.

  • POSTED BY Muthu_Team on | November 7, 2008, 13:43 GMT

    Nice Article, Kumar... It's really fascinating to see someone from opposition praising true credentials of a champion swing bowler of this generation... I heard many stating that "Alan Davidson" of Australia is the only comparable left Arm Fast bowler with Wasim but I never watched him, not even in Videos. I believe we all will be blessed, if we could see another swing bowler of his calibre soon in this generation again.. If he is from Pakistan then it will be great their cricket crazy public in these troubled times...

  • POSTED BY jojoji on | November 7, 2008, 13:26 GMT

    WOW! Absolutely wow Thanks sanga for such a fantabulous article on my all time favorite cricketer. I was hoping after ur articles on Lara n Tendulkar you ll move on to bowlers and there's no better bowler then Wasim. I greatly miss those days when nothing excited you more then the first ten overs of ODI when Pakistan was bowling or when meagre totals of 200 were defended routinely by Pakistan. On every bowl the magician bowled one expected something unusual to happen and he didn disappointed much. Truly if there was any other craftsman with a cherry in his hands besides Warne, it was Wasim. I feel sorry for those people who haven't seen these two craftsman at work cuz they might never see what magic with the ball, ball after ball, match after match, year after year, really is.

  • POSTED BY Theena on | November 7, 2008, 13:23 GMT

    To echo someone above, watching Lara in prime form facing Akram at his most potent would be my idea of heaven. Someone could shoot me afterwards and I'd die a happy man.

  • POSTED BY Theena on | November 7, 2008, 13:10 GMT

    What can be said that hasn't been uttered before about Wasim Akram? Left arm of god? Genius? Once in a generation player? Gifted beyond all reason? Allan Border, I think it was, said that if he had the choice to be reborn as a cricketer, he'd choose to be born as Wasim Akram. For a hardened Aussie to choose any cricketer over Sir Don tells you how what an astonishing talent Akram was.

    Last week, commenting on your Lara article, I said that I was lucky to be born in the age of five geniuses - Wasim is one of them. Like Stanley Kubrick's work in Clockwork Orange, there's a poetic violence about Wasim's bowling action that his peers didn't possess much less comprehend. Where McGrath would dare batsmen to dictate terms, Akram overwhelmed them; Where Waqar sought to scare them with pace, Wasim would hypnotize. He is the only fast bowler who made bowling an art form. One word: incredible.

  • POSTED BY KartickKrishnamoorthy on | November 7, 2008, 12:36 GMT

    Wasim Akram. The God of fast bowling, the master of swing, the magician who bagged the highest number of ODI wickets with the just a swing of his magic arm. He had perfected the art of reverse swing, through which he used to deceive the batsmen and make them fall in his trap. He used to bowl six different deliveries in an over. Popularly known as the Sultan of Swing, and was a nightmare for the batsmen. When he usd to approach his run up it used to be a terrifying site for the batsmen. It has always been a treat to watch him play. One of the best bowlers the subcontinent ever produced or rather the world has ever witnessed. The current generation of fast bowlers has grown up watching him and Waquar destroy many oppositions. He had grown into the shoes of Imran Khan and today he is the best that Pakistan ever had.

  • POSTED BY Zuhair on | November 7, 2008, 11:48 GMT

    Brilliant article Sanga. I grew up watching Wasim and Waqar destroying the bests of the bests. They were a treat to watch. Waqar might have been the better wicket taker but Wasim was magical. He was awesome to watch. There are no better sights in cricket than watching Lara bat and Wasim bowl. Almost every batsmen to have faced Wasim rank him the best bowwler to have bowled at them. You do not need more comliments really. The fast bowling quality of that era was a cheif reason why great batter like De Sliva, Azhar, Waughs, Taylor, Anwar, Kiristen had averages in early or mid 40s!!! All the pontings, dravids, yousuf, kallis averages would have been in the same range had they played a lot in that era. I wish he could come back.

  • POSTED BY eddy501 on | November 7, 2008, 11:31 GMT

    Wasim Akram, the left-Handed Malcolm Marshall. In my greatest 11 the bowling would be Marshall, Warne, Arkam and any from Ambrose, McGrath, Murli...etc Viv and Lara both rated Akram very very highly. Complete mastery over the cricket ball, like Maco and Warney.

  • POSTED BY Brendanvio on | November 7, 2008, 11:20 GMT

    Arguably the greatest left arm quick of them all, and certainly one of the best of the 90's.

    Few could bend a ball like he could. A superb craftsman whose reputation is only tarnished by the match fixing accusations that dogged the Pakistan team at that time.

  • POSTED BY King_Viv on | November 7, 2008, 11:12 GMT

    Wasim was a true legend and was a real test for any batsmen in all countries that he played in. It is a real shame in the 1990s that people thought that something dodgy was going on for the old ball to move so much and so late. It is only of late that England have discovered the art. However, Alec Stewart in his biography claims that during the early 90s, when Waqar was playing for Surrey, many counties were using bottle tops to hasten the deterioration of one side of the ball and that this aided bowlers like Waqar to reverse swing. I was lucky enough to speak with Paul Allott about this in person and questioned him as to whether Wasim was doing the same at Lancashire. He made the point that Wasim would bowl at one end and the ball would swing, seam and dart all over the place keeping the batsmen constantly guessing. Wasim would chuck the SAME BALL to Paul Allott or another team mate and they were not able to achieve anywhere near the same amount of movement

  • POSTED BY gzawilliam on | November 7, 2008, 9:50 GMT

    Fantastic Article Sanga. I used to love watching Wasim bowl for those exact reasons he explained. Wrist Position, Angles , Arm speed. He talks in real terms and about real skills.

    Isn't it a pity Mitchell Johnson doesn't learn from this. His wrist position is pointed towards 3rd slip taking the ball way off it's axis everytime. And i know he's worked with Wasim before in the attempt to swing the ball back into the right hander but it obviously hasn't helped. Someone grab his wrist and break it 1inch to the right please. So he at least gets the seam going down straight.

    Its things like that Wasim Akram made top priority for him to become one of the best fast swing bowlers eva.. Why is it not important for an australian up and comer?

  • POSTED BY Sivaram.L on | November 7, 2008, 9:26 GMT

    Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis definitely were trend setters in one aspect. They were the ones who showed the world the significance of hunting in pairs to tumble an opposition within the first hour of an ODI.As an ardent fan of Wasim I can say one thing to all young bowlers in street cricket.When you are not at your best,when you are being hit all over the park, just think of this guy ,his run up,concentrate on the stumps and try to bowl a Akram yorker and i am sure 9 outta 10 times the batsman will be BOWLED! That is how he has inspired me!!When i knew he had battled his way through Diabetes during his playing days,my respect for this magician doubled.Thank you syringe for injecting him.For,he has injected fighting spirit and determination in the bowler in me!

  • POSTED BY dravidgood on | November 7, 2008, 9:20 GMT

    Wasim Akram....fast,furious, decent, honest, enigmatic, lethal, gentlemanly, talented, tenacious, skillful, helpful, enterprising, intense, humourous, allround game - a perfect ambassador for the game....

  • POSTED BY whisperingDeathMach2 on | November 7, 2008, 9:19 GMT

    whenever i read about the meastro my eyes well up and i take a trip down memory lane when i would wake in the early hours of those cold winter mornings and switch on the tv to watch the most captivating bowler weave a spell of undiluted, unadulterated, subliminal magic upon all and sundry...

    there is nothing i miss more than seeing my beloved wasim terrorise batsman in the most poetic of manners. He was the artist among the modern day wrecking balls such as Ambrose, Donald and Waqar. The michaelangelo of cricket; every wicket he took came through deep thought and beauty akin to each brush stroke on the Sistine chapel...

    there will never be a bowler of such beauty....

  • POSTED BY KCKCKC on | November 7, 2008, 9:04 GMT

    I don't think they used speed guns in 1992, but those two balls were the fastest I've ever seen. Both batsmen barely moved before the wickets went cartwheeling. The word 'great' sits easily on Wasim. A fine ambassador of the game as well. He could knock your head off as a bowler. But he was gracious off it. You never felt the menace Indians usually felt from a Pakistani player with Wasim.

  • POSTED BY KKickers on | November 7, 2008, 8:42 GMT

    Wasim Akram along with Waqar Younis was the mascot of the Pakistan Cricket Team. Both the left armers got a much needed revolution to bowling in world cricket. With so many wickets and achievements in their pockets, I still don't understand that why have not been chosen as bowling coaches for Pakistan. This would not only drastically improve Pakistan's bowling problems but also provide competitive cricket from Pakistan. I hope that the PCB does take notice of this and asks either of them to coach the Pakistan cricket team. The same goes with batting, why not ask someone Javed Miandad or even Saeed Anwar to help coach the team for batting. Pakistan can also not afford to ban players like Mohammed Yousuf for leagues like ICL. Players like Shahid Afridi should be dealt delicately for effective performance. These are some of the issues that Pakistan cricket needs to take care of to produce a competitive team.

  • POSTED BY DeathRaider on | November 7, 2008, 8:10 GMT

    well written Sanga..truly Wasim was once in a generation bowler...I still remember the delivery he bowled to Rahul Dravid during that Famous "Tendulkar" Chennai test..the ball pitched outside leg & took away the off stump..Only a genius could make the ball talk like that.. Hats off to you Wasim !!! truly a legend !!

  • POSTED BY ZA77 on | November 7, 2008, 7:55 GMT

    No doubt, Wasim Akram is history best fast bolwer with 12 different varities. On one ocassion, Lara said that Wasim is even better than McGrath. It was very difficult to face him. He was a king of swing as well as seam. His bowling is average is 23.62 with 25 times 5 wickets in test cricket and 4 wickets 20 times means his bowling record is also very good. One more thing about him is that he was an economical bowler in one day as well as in last overs it was very difficult to even took singles against him. He was better allrounder than others because first he was a complete bowler and then additional batsman. He was bowling allrounder like Kallis who is batting allrounder with complete skills of batting first and then additional bowling as well. Wasim scored 2898 runs test cricket as well with highest score 257 not out and second one is 123. Although he never took 50 wickets in calender year but I think no Wasim will come again in test cricket.

  • POSTED BY original_jawz on | November 7, 2008, 7:32 GMT

    Reversing is a skill that a lot of us Pakistanis have always taken for granted. Growing up, we would tape only one side of a tennis ball, leaving the other naked and enjoyed the davastated results. The ball would move around like it was possessed by a demon. And whenever I played with the hard ball, all of us would make sure to shine one side and leave the other. Reversing is not just a bowler skill, it's a team skill. All players (inc subs) are fully responsible for it. Sadly though, the world of cricket has taken out reversing from the picture completely by forcing a ball change in the 34th over, which is probably the most ridiculous development in the game. There will be no more davastating bowling spells in the late going. Bowlers are reduced to bowling slow bouncers and lollipop balls to limit scoring. Nothing was more exciting than a 150k heater bulldozing stumps! What the world doesn't understand, it fears. What others can't do is assumed to be accomplished through cheating.

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  • POSTED BY original_jawz on | November 7, 2008, 7:32 GMT

    Reversing is a skill that a lot of us Pakistanis have always taken for granted. Growing up, we would tape only one side of a tennis ball, leaving the other naked and enjoyed the davastated results. The ball would move around like it was possessed by a demon. And whenever I played with the hard ball, all of us would make sure to shine one side and leave the other. Reversing is not just a bowler skill, it's a team skill. All players (inc subs) are fully responsible for it. Sadly though, the world of cricket has taken out reversing from the picture completely by forcing a ball change in the 34th over, which is probably the most ridiculous development in the game. There will be no more davastating bowling spells in the late going. Bowlers are reduced to bowling slow bouncers and lollipop balls to limit scoring. Nothing was more exciting than a 150k heater bulldozing stumps! What the world doesn't understand, it fears. What others can't do is assumed to be accomplished through cheating.

  • POSTED BY ZA77 on | November 7, 2008, 7:55 GMT

    No doubt, Wasim Akram is history best fast bolwer with 12 different varities. On one ocassion, Lara said that Wasim is even better than McGrath. It was very difficult to face him. He was a king of swing as well as seam. His bowling is average is 23.62 with 25 times 5 wickets in test cricket and 4 wickets 20 times means his bowling record is also very good. One more thing about him is that he was an economical bowler in one day as well as in last overs it was very difficult to even took singles against him. He was better allrounder than others because first he was a complete bowler and then additional batsman. He was bowling allrounder like Kallis who is batting allrounder with complete skills of batting first and then additional bowling as well. Wasim scored 2898 runs test cricket as well with highest score 257 not out and second one is 123. Although he never took 50 wickets in calender year but I think no Wasim will come again in test cricket.

  • POSTED BY DeathRaider on | November 7, 2008, 8:10 GMT

    well written Sanga..truly Wasim was once in a generation bowler...I still remember the delivery he bowled to Rahul Dravid during that Famous "Tendulkar" Chennai test..the ball pitched outside leg & took away the off stump..Only a genius could make the ball talk like that.. Hats off to you Wasim !!! truly a legend !!

  • POSTED BY KKickers on | November 7, 2008, 8:42 GMT

    Wasim Akram along with Waqar Younis was the mascot of the Pakistan Cricket Team. Both the left armers got a much needed revolution to bowling in world cricket. With so many wickets and achievements in their pockets, I still don't understand that why have not been chosen as bowling coaches for Pakistan. This would not only drastically improve Pakistan's bowling problems but also provide competitive cricket from Pakistan. I hope that the PCB does take notice of this and asks either of them to coach the Pakistan cricket team. The same goes with batting, why not ask someone Javed Miandad or even Saeed Anwar to help coach the team for batting. Pakistan can also not afford to ban players like Mohammed Yousuf for leagues like ICL. Players like Shahid Afridi should be dealt delicately for effective performance. These are some of the issues that Pakistan cricket needs to take care of to produce a competitive team.

  • POSTED BY KCKCKC on | November 7, 2008, 9:04 GMT

    I don't think they used speed guns in 1992, but those two balls were the fastest I've ever seen. Both batsmen barely moved before the wickets went cartwheeling. The word 'great' sits easily on Wasim. A fine ambassador of the game as well. He could knock your head off as a bowler. But he was gracious off it. You never felt the menace Indians usually felt from a Pakistani player with Wasim.

  • POSTED BY whisperingDeathMach2 on | November 7, 2008, 9:19 GMT

    whenever i read about the meastro my eyes well up and i take a trip down memory lane when i would wake in the early hours of those cold winter mornings and switch on the tv to watch the most captivating bowler weave a spell of undiluted, unadulterated, subliminal magic upon all and sundry...

    there is nothing i miss more than seeing my beloved wasim terrorise batsman in the most poetic of manners. He was the artist among the modern day wrecking balls such as Ambrose, Donald and Waqar. The michaelangelo of cricket; every wicket he took came through deep thought and beauty akin to each brush stroke on the Sistine chapel...

    there will never be a bowler of such beauty....

  • POSTED BY dravidgood on | November 7, 2008, 9:20 GMT

    Wasim Akram....fast,furious, decent, honest, enigmatic, lethal, gentlemanly, talented, tenacious, skillful, helpful, enterprising, intense, humourous, allround game - a perfect ambassador for the game....

  • POSTED BY Sivaram.L on | November 7, 2008, 9:26 GMT

    Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis definitely were trend setters in one aspect. They were the ones who showed the world the significance of hunting in pairs to tumble an opposition within the first hour of an ODI.As an ardent fan of Wasim I can say one thing to all young bowlers in street cricket.When you are not at your best,when you are being hit all over the park, just think of this guy ,his run up,concentrate on the stumps and try to bowl a Akram yorker and i am sure 9 outta 10 times the batsman will be BOWLED! That is how he has inspired me!!When i knew he had battled his way through Diabetes during his playing days,my respect for this magician doubled.Thank you syringe for injecting him.For,he has injected fighting spirit and determination in the bowler in me!

  • POSTED BY gzawilliam on | November 7, 2008, 9:50 GMT

    Fantastic Article Sanga. I used to love watching Wasim bowl for those exact reasons he explained. Wrist Position, Angles , Arm speed. He talks in real terms and about real skills.

    Isn't it a pity Mitchell Johnson doesn't learn from this. His wrist position is pointed towards 3rd slip taking the ball way off it's axis everytime. And i know he's worked with Wasim before in the attempt to swing the ball back into the right hander but it obviously hasn't helped. Someone grab his wrist and break it 1inch to the right please. So he at least gets the seam going down straight.

    Its things like that Wasim Akram made top priority for him to become one of the best fast swing bowlers eva.. Why is it not important for an australian up and comer?

  • POSTED BY King_Viv on | November 7, 2008, 11:12 GMT

    Wasim was a true legend and was a real test for any batsmen in all countries that he played in. It is a real shame in the 1990s that people thought that something dodgy was going on for the old ball to move so much and so late. It is only of late that England have discovered the art. However, Alec Stewart in his biography claims that during the early 90s, when Waqar was playing for Surrey, many counties were using bottle tops to hasten the deterioration of one side of the ball and that this aided bowlers like Waqar to reverse swing. I was lucky enough to speak with Paul Allott about this in person and questioned him as to whether Wasim was doing the same at Lancashire. He made the point that Wasim would bowl at one end and the ball would swing, seam and dart all over the place keeping the batsmen constantly guessing. Wasim would chuck the SAME BALL to Paul Allott or another team mate and they were not able to achieve anywhere near the same amount of movement