Wasim Akram October 17, 2009

The wonder that was Waz

Despite struggling against injury and illness for much of his career,Akram went on to bring about a seminal change in the way cricket was played
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Wasim Akram played cricket like there was no tomorrow. And at times it felt like there wasn't. He retired from cricket more than once, was hectored to do so on several other occasions, and suffered the sack as captain and cricketer perhaps as often as any player in history. He was accused of cricket's most heinous crime and escaped the supreme sanction only because of his accuser's equivocations.

Then there were the injuries and infirmities. Shane Warne likened his life to a soap opera; Akram's was more like a medical drama. At one time or other, every pivotal point in Akram's body buckled: groin, intercostal muscle, shoulder, pelvic bones. Then there were the hernias, appendicitis, and diabetes leading to deteriorating eyesight. The money in Akram's family came from a business in spare parts; over the years he could have done with a few himself.

Few careers have been clouded by so many intimations of mortality. But few will have such ongoing impact on the techniques of the game: Akram was the most accomplished practitioner of a skill that is probably older than imagined but has been formally acknowledged for about two decades.

The development of reverse swing, as much as the renascence in wrist-spin, was the headline trend of the 1990s. Most cricket fans now have the gist of reverse swing, if not a grasp of its arcane physics: how ballast and wear on one side of a cricket ball achieve, in reverse, effects like those of protection and polishing. But they underestimate its subversiveness. Like the googly, BJT Bosanquet's jeu d'esprit a hundred years ago, reverse swing was an act of counter-intuition, requiring dry, not overcast, conditions; extreme pace, not "time for the ball to swing"; and the ball's deterioration rather than its preservation.

It has permanently altered the Test-match ecosystem, emancipating the fast bowler with the old ball in the overs of an innings previously the preserve of slow and medium-pace bowlers, and encouraging speed at a fuller length than was popular in the nasty, brutish and short 1980s. Particularly altered was the predator-prey relationship between pace bowling and tail-end batting. It seemed 25 years ago that with the opportunities afforded by professionalism to rehearse secondary skills and the enhancement in protective gear, including the helmet, tail-end batting would probably improve in the long term; certainly the real duffer became a comparative rarity. Helmets, however, afforded no protection from late-swinging deliveries speared at the crease line, an art with which Akram is synonymous.

Cricket writer Scyld Berry's theory is that reverse swing, by shortening the average duration of tail-end innings, has been decisive in reducing the proportion of Test matches drawn since 1990. The view is persuasive, though hard to test. What can be demonstrated is Akram's departure from earlier conventions of pace bowling. A greater share of his wickets, 53%, were bowled or lbw, more than for any fast bowler of the last 30 years, save his great rival Waqar Younis (57%). For the purposes of comparison, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh obtained only a third of their wickets without the aid of a fieldsman or keeper, while the figures of Dennis Lillee (33%), Richard Hadlee (40%) and Malcolm Marshall (40%) imply the different devices of an earlier generation. That 29% of Akram's wickets were lbw is freakish, considering the onus on a left-arm bowler seeking an umpire's indulgence from over the wicket.

Akram did not design his action with reverse swing in mind but it proved close to ideal, with the fast arm and firm wrist imparting the necessary pace and the 17-pace approach allowing him to sustain the effort involved in maintaining a consistently full length. No left-arm pace bowler since Garfield Sobers varied his angles as resourcefully, and not even Sobers was as skilful from round the wicket.

The technique itself was actually one of cricket's great wonders, defying all the usual injunctions of coaches to perfect a balanced run of gathering speed and a smooth action of seamless grace. After a breakneck sprint, Akram barrelled through the crease, front foot pointing down the pitch, back foot toward the sightscreen, arm a blur. That he was able to repeat this almost 41,000 times in international cricket beggars belief. Add to this the burden that he bore as a batsman - he scored nearly 3000 Test runs to go with his 414 Test wickets - and one is compelled to consider another aspect of Akram's historical significance: his sheer durability.

Akram's technique was one of cricket's great wonders, defying all the usual injunctions of coaches. After a breakneck sprint, Akram barrelled through the crease, front foot pointing down the pitch, back foot toward the sightscreen, arm a blur. That he was able to repeat this almost 41,000 times in international cricket beggars beliefcaption:

The brunt of Akram's cricket was borne by his groin and shoulder. His groin was first operated on in 1988 and again two years later. The latter operation was complicated when an adductor muscle separated from his pelvis, leaving his left leg only half as strong as his right: it was restored only by intensive physiotherapy. He first experienced shoulder pain about eight years before he retired, while representing Lancashire, and delayed surgery, only to break down when he tried to bowl a bouncer during the Singer-Akai Cup final in Sharjah in April 1997. There were further operations, a six-month layoff and a regime of painkillers.

I could go on but it all grows a bit gruesome. We might think instead of Akram as embodying the impact of medical science on cricket, both in terms of prolonging careers and facilitating modern schedules. Once upon a time a single serious injury spelt more or less the end of a career. Players who recovered were hailed almost as miracles: think of Denis Compton's knee, Richie Benaud's shoulder and Lillee's back. Surgery today, by contrast, is almost as routine as the drinks break. There is far more discussion - some profound, some silly - about cricket being a game of "mental strength" (something Akram also has covered, having been married to a qualified psychotherapist).

Akram's ultimate place in his country's cricket history is hard to guess. His star waxed and waned. He was one of 10 Pakistan captains in a bizarre period between March 1992 and August 1995, out of which also arose the allegations that resulted in his being fined on the suspicion of involvement in match-fixing after the Qayyum Report. Political contacts kept Akram going as surely as surgeons.

Watching Akram in June 2002, blasting out Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting with the first three deliveries of a one-day match in Melbourne, then looting an unbeaten 49 from 32 balls at the Gabba , it was hard to escape the sad sensation that we in Australia might be seeing him for the last time. Then again, we'd had that feeling before.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer. This article was first published, with minor differences, in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2002

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dawer on October 20, 2009, 14:53 GMT

    i think the Pakistani nation has a habit of ignoring/not appreciating their national heroes. I took particular interest in reading the comments from the indians (naturally) and it felt so nice to read paragraphs of praises. Having followed the entire 90s cricket, i can only remember one thing when i used to look at the team line-up in any given match, that is, is wasim playing. He is without doubt an all time great cricketer. By the way, one item the author missed, something which no statistic can show....his sheer presence on the field. God Bless!

  • Jaani_Depp on October 20, 2009, 0:39 GMT

    Its an incredible disservice to Akram when he called one of the greatest "LEFT" arm bowlers of all time. Considering his overall statistics and achievements he should be considered as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time without any reference to which arm he used to bowl.

  • hamz501 on October 19, 2009, 17:54 GMT

    Wasim Akram was an amazing cricketer. Probably the most talented cricker to have played in the last 20 odd years IMO. I was reading some of the earlier coments about Wasim being compared to Waqar, and in all honesty if you have followed Pakistan cricket in the 90's, you should realize that there is no comparison. Waqar peaked early in his career when reverse swing was not understood by most teams but since that he was not as devestating. Waqar also did not perform against the 2 best batting line ups of his time(Aussies and India). Also its really odd to hear people talk about Waqar having more mastery on reverse swing when he could only reverse swing the ball in the batsman while Wasim could swing it in or away. Now dont get me wrong waqar was a great bowler but not in the class of Wasim.

  • PrinzPaulEugen on October 19, 2009, 11:11 GMT

    Wasim was one of those bowlers that, when he was hurling down the pill, you couldn't look away. Being an Aussie, and having watched cricket for the last 25 years or more, I can only think of one another quick of the ilk - Malcolm Marshall. Shane Bond and Allan Donald as well. Tearaway quicks that would go through an Australian line up like a hot knife through butter. A wonderful bowler and it was a pleasure to have watched him.

  • ravi63 on October 19, 2009, 11:06 GMT

    You forget to mention that Akram was an Insulin dependent diabetic .. he had to take his shots during the game and perform .. incredible endurance ....

  • Avid.Cricket.Watcher on October 19, 2009, 10:26 GMT

    Wasim Akram was a real wizard of a cricketer! Coz he was one of those genius players who could conjure up cricketing magic! While Waqar and Akhtar may have been a little more destructive at their best, I don't think any fast bowler from Pakistan, or elsewhere in the world, had more bowling skill...the man could make the ball talk in so many different ways! One of the greatest talents of all time for sure. (PS: Many might disagree with me, but I really believe that the '90s gave us more cricketing genius / skill than the 2000s. And I attribute that to way too much cricket - leaving top players physically and mentally fatigued - and the proliferation of flatter pitches and more rules in favour of batsmen (in ODIs, T20s). While batsmen are far more proactive / positive / powerful today, and cricket is still exciting, the shortchanging of bowlers has definitely impaired both bowling and batting skills, in my view.)

  • unleashedtrojan1 on October 19, 2009, 5:32 GMT

    Probably the best talent out of pakistan and the greatest of all time. No one had more control over the ball and the batsman than Wasim. The good old days of the 2W's will never come again. Shoaib excited for a couple of years but .........

  • MalikNadeemAwan on October 19, 2009, 2:49 GMT

    Oh he was one of greats of all time and the greatest left arm fast bowler ever. He alongwith the other great Waqar Younis destroyed the most powerfull batting line of 1990 era by new and especially with old ball. The controversees in his career may affect on his record but he was legend a true legend.

  • boris6491 on October 19, 2009, 0:42 GMT

    Genius cricketer. I only wish that we could be entertained once again by this man. I just admired his phenomenal control, he could move, seam, swing, reverse swing and pretty much do anything with the ball at will. I don't think at times he is given the accolades he deserves as one of the true greats of the game. Those days of Waqar/Wasim were some of Pakistan's best. They do have some good potential now, but those days are long gone. The likes of Aamer and Gul definitely have talent and ability, but they do not match up to their predecessors. I think Wasim's all round skills were also really underrated, he could be a really useful batsman as well. Fine cricketer and the world stage is missing these kind of impact swing bowlers. It seems that that type of bowler is slowly fading away.

  • JackJak on October 18, 2009, 18:24 GMT

    Wasim Akram is one of the geniuses of bowling the cricket world will ever see. One cant even compare Wasim Akram to Waqar Younis because they were totally different kind of bowlers. Waqar when he was at the peak of his game for a few years was lovely to watch because of his pace and also the swing that he got at that pace. But still in terms of sheer genius and natural ability to do a 1000 things with a cricket ball..there is only one person i have ever seen and that has to be Wasim Akram. Imagine if he hadnt had diabetic and all those issues he would have been even more deadly than he was. He used to have such passion the way he bowled and each ball was like a creation and what it was exactly supposed it would actually end up doing. Certainly not like the mindless bowlers of today like RP Singh Ishant Sharma and the kind who just run and bowl..it looks like even they dont know or have a clue why they are bowling.

  • Dawer on October 20, 2009, 14:53 GMT

    i think the Pakistani nation has a habit of ignoring/not appreciating their national heroes. I took particular interest in reading the comments from the indians (naturally) and it felt so nice to read paragraphs of praises. Having followed the entire 90s cricket, i can only remember one thing when i used to look at the team line-up in any given match, that is, is wasim playing. He is without doubt an all time great cricketer. By the way, one item the author missed, something which no statistic can show....his sheer presence on the field. God Bless!

  • Jaani_Depp on October 20, 2009, 0:39 GMT

    Its an incredible disservice to Akram when he called one of the greatest "LEFT" arm bowlers of all time. Considering his overall statistics and achievements he should be considered as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time without any reference to which arm he used to bowl.

  • hamz501 on October 19, 2009, 17:54 GMT

    Wasim Akram was an amazing cricketer. Probably the most talented cricker to have played in the last 20 odd years IMO. I was reading some of the earlier coments about Wasim being compared to Waqar, and in all honesty if you have followed Pakistan cricket in the 90's, you should realize that there is no comparison. Waqar peaked early in his career when reverse swing was not understood by most teams but since that he was not as devestating. Waqar also did not perform against the 2 best batting line ups of his time(Aussies and India). Also its really odd to hear people talk about Waqar having more mastery on reverse swing when he could only reverse swing the ball in the batsman while Wasim could swing it in or away. Now dont get me wrong waqar was a great bowler but not in the class of Wasim.

  • PrinzPaulEugen on October 19, 2009, 11:11 GMT

    Wasim was one of those bowlers that, when he was hurling down the pill, you couldn't look away. Being an Aussie, and having watched cricket for the last 25 years or more, I can only think of one another quick of the ilk - Malcolm Marshall. Shane Bond and Allan Donald as well. Tearaway quicks that would go through an Australian line up like a hot knife through butter. A wonderful bowler and it was a pleasure to have watched him.

  • ravi63 on October 19, 2009, 11:06 GMT

    You forget to mention that Akram was an Insulin dependent diabetic .. he had to take his shots during the game and perform .. incredible endurance ....

  • Avid.Cricket.Watcher on October 19, 2009, 10:26 GMT

    Wasim Akram was a real wizard of a cricketer! Coz he was one of those genius players who could conjure up cricketing magic! While Waqar and Akhtar may have been a little more destructive at their best, I don't think any fast bowler from Pakistan, or elsewhere in the world, had more bowling skill...the man could make the ball talk in so many different ways! One of the greatest talents of all time for sure. (PS: Many might disagree with me, but I really believe that the '90s gave us more cricketing genius / skill than the 2000s. And I attribute that to way too much cricket - leaving top players physically and mentally fatigued - and the proliferation of flatter pitches and more rules in favour of batsmen (in ODIs, T20s). While batsmen are far more proactive / positive / powerful today, and cricket is still exciting, the shortchanging of bowlers has definitely impaired both bowling and batting skills, in my view.)

  • unleashedtrojan1 on October 19, 2009, 5:32 GMT

    Probably the best talent out of pakistan and the greatest of all time. No one had more control over the ball and the batsman than Wasim. The good old days of the 2W's will never come again. Shoaib excited for a couple of years but .........

  • MalikNadeemAwan on October 19, 2009, 2:49 GMT

    Oh he was one of greats of all time and the greatest left arm fast bowler ever. He alongwith the other great Waqar Younis destroyed the most powerfull batting line of 1990 era by new and especially with old ball. The controversees in his career may affect on his record but he was legend a true legend.

  • boris6491 on October 19, 2009, 0:42 GMT

    Genius cricketer. I only wish that we could be entertained once again by this man. I just admired his phenomenal control, he could move, seam, swing, reverse swing and pretty much do anything with the ball at will. I don't think at times he is given the accolades he deserves as one of the true greats of the game. Those days of Waqar/Wasim were some of Pakistan's best. They do have some good potential now, but those days are long gone. The likes of Aamer and Gul definitely have talent and ability, but they do not match up to their predecessors. I think Wasim's all round skills were also really underrated, he could be a really useful batsman as well. Fine cricketer and the world stage is missing these kind of impact swing bowlers. It seems that that type of bowler is slowly fading away.

  • JackJak on October 18, 2009, 18:24 GMT

    Wasim Akram is one of the geniuses of bowling the cricket world will ever see. One cant even compare Wasim Akram to Waqar Younis because they were totally different kind of bowlers. Waqar when he was at the peak of his game for a few years was lovely to watch because of his pace and also the swing that he got at that pace. But still in terms of sheer genius and natural ability to do a 1000 things with a cricket ball..there is only one person i have ever seen and that has to be Wasim Akram. Imagine if he hadnt had diabetic and all those issues he would have been even more deadly than he was. He used to have such passion the way he bowled and each ball was like a creation and what it was exactly supposed it would actually end up doing. Certainly not like the mindless bowlers of today like RP Singh Ishant Sharma and the kind who just run and bowl..it looks like even they dont know or have a clue why they are bowling.

  • promal on October 18, 2009, 14:35 GMT

    I don't entirely agree with SaremHassan. Wasim may have won the 1992 WC finals single-handedly, but that doesn't mean he was a more clutch performer than Waqar. In fact, I think Waqar was definitely a bigger match-winner. I'm sure if someone can provide us with the exact statistics, you will find that Waqar got a much higher proportion of top-order batsmen out whereas Wasim has a lot of tail-enders in his tally. By and large, Wasim got a lot more cheap wickets and Waqar was more instrumental in creating carnage at the top. Yes, Waqar had more injury problems because his pace and style made him less durable. But that doesn't mean he was any less great or successful. Sachin has had more injury problems than Dravid, but he's still surely the greater batsman.

  • imirfan on October 18, 2009, 12:17 GMT

    I will just say one thing. You need Legends like Imran khan to produce bowlers like Wasim and Waqar. Two Ws rocked the cricket world and will be remembered in history.

  • waspsting on October 18, 2009, 12:09 GMT

    Great bowler, no doubt. I agree though, that Waqar was better - i've never seen anything to rival Waqar as a strike force in his prime. Wasim had more variation though. Also agree Wasim underachieved - he could have done so much more. I would have liked to see him go around the wicket more often. I want to make a point about the stats of the W's bowled/LBWs compared with that of a previous generation. Its not a generation thing - its a conditions thing. on the Pakistani wickets, attacking the stumps was just the best way of doing business, hence their development of yorkers and inswingers and the like. Imran's figures, I imagine, were probably similar to Wasim and Waqar in that respect. Also, the number of LBW's turned down for Akram because the left arm over the wicket thing was confusing to umpires was HUGE. I saw Slater repeatedly hit in front for the first 3 overs of Akram every time... not out, says the umpire. He should have even more wickets than he does.

  • cooldewd on October 18, 2009, 12:08 GMT

    Nice article Gid. Wasim was truly a remarkable fast bowler that first caught my attention around 1990. I can still remember the awe I felt watching the nightly high lights on the news of Wasim and Waqars demolition of the hapless English batsmen in the unforgettable series in 1992 when both bowlers were at their zenith serving up some of the most outrageous reverse swinging yorkers ever seen. Would it be too much to ask for an article on the other half of this wrecking team, Waqar - who also wreaked his own brand of carnage with the new and old ball? All round, a great article on a great cricketer. Regards, VB of the Yarras.

  • kaiser1 on October 18, 2009, 5:00 GMT

    HI GIDEON, I still remember his first deliveries in his first ever first class cricket match against the visiting Inte'l Kiwi's team in 85 when Richard Hadlee had refused to tour Pakistan at the Rawalpindi cricket stadium and he took 7 for in one innings and 2 for in the second innings and i envisaged a new star of cricket being born in the arena. He was hand picked by the great (late) Khan Muhammad coaching at the time who took fisrt test wkt for Pak & also bowled first over for Pak in test cricket. Akram was one of the enthusiast at the Lahore cricket stadium to watch the then Pak stars in action in the coaching and conditioning camp preparing to face the kiwis. Khan Muhammad watched him bowl few overs to Pak Stars in that practice session and called him over and then introduced him to the Pak selectors noticing his abilities & the next day Wasim Akram was included in the Pak Camp without ever playing a fisrt class cricket match a rarity anywhere & the rest is history. Thanks.

  • srikanths on October 18, 2009, 2:43 GMT

    Wasim Akram 's arm was like a wand. He could literaly makethe ball talk. I have been watching cricket for over 30 years and have never seen a bowler who could make the ball do things which wasim akram used to. Swing in the air, off the pitch, reverse, you name it he had it. He was quick off the pitch , deceptively quick in the air.Maintained the pace for long periods. Cleam action. While waqar was quicker and was more penetrative, wasim was a thinking bowler and was more consistent in all formats of the game plus he was a decent bat Definitely an all time great. Place in the hierarchy could be debated but the fact that would be in an all time list of best pace bowlers is doubt free

  • SaremHassan on October 18, 2009, 0:20 GMT

    Promal, Waqar has better statistics but Wasim is more celebrated because he was more a clutch performer and won the games that mattered most. Waqar was also more injury prone than Wasim throughout his career.

  • promal on October 17, 2009, 21:15 GMT

    Surely a commendable cricketer and fascinating in all respects. But Waqar was the superior bowler, with better pace, swing, strike rate (in both Tests and ODIs, and SR is surely the best indicator of a bowler's quality over a period of time) 10 W/M and 5 W/I hauls etc etc. Wasim seems to be more popular and more praised only because he was his predecessor and played for a longer time, hence has more wickets and was a more defensive bowler, hence a better economy rate (which is why he has a better average). But I don't think anyone has or will ever swing it more or better than Waqar at that pace and ever achieve a higher strike rate in either form of the game for 300+ wickets! Even in the only statistic mentioned in this article, it is Waqar who stands alone above Wasim!

  • IAS2009 on October 17, 2009, 19:31 GMT

    The article has highlighted the background in which those performances were made, no matter what is situation was, Wasim and Waqar were always make a match of of it, Wasim is one of the great fast bowler of all time i would say.

    With so much politics in Pakistan cricket it is amazing that players in the past and now have performed well at high level. Pakistan took for granted the talents of Wasim and Waqar, bowlers like these are hard to find, to perform at such high level with consistency is amazing. Looking at other fast bowlers of current time, they are injured a lot more (too much cricket to blame too).

  • cricket4shafiq on October 17, 2009, 19:19 GMT

    I can just cry remembering all those years, the sweetness, the excitement, the joy of the years 1985 to 2003. I wish he cold still play...My eyes have just glown after reading article & comments abt the great Wasim Akram But it alays leaves thirst for more, like the thirst to watch him bowl. We miss you, The Lord of Swing! M Shafiq from Islamabad.

  • krik8crazy on October 17, 2009, 18:59 GMT

    One of the most crafty bowlers ever. Too bad he retired years ago. If he were a few years younger he too could have played once a year in the IPL like other retired greats Warne, McGrath, Hayden, Glichrist, etc. He would have been a sensation in 20-20 with his lethal bowling and powerful hitting. Even now, with his small run up and whiplash action, I think he is capable of troubling the best batsmen of today.

  • faisalamalik on October 17, 2009, 18:30 GMT

    For me the best balls ever bowled to set up and cleanup a bastman, were the ones bowled to Dravid in india by Wasim. How he deceived Dravid and the look on Dravid's face will always be etched in all cricket lovers memorioes.

  • muzi007 on October 17, 2009, 18:19 GMT

    He was a genuine all rounder and his ability to swing the ball in both ways really awesome.

  • HiyerNHiyer on October 17, 2009, 18:06 GMT

    I am a true indian fanand used to fear Akram against India but I believe that Akram is and will be one of the modern greats if not a legend as far as cricket is concerned. There were accussations of matchfixing against him which I personally feel were baseless and would prefer to ignore. Akram was and still remains a true genius and I believe that he along with Waqar should be roped in by ICC and Pak Cricket board to teach the world what fast bowling as an art is all about. The grace these two have bought to fast bowling in the modern day era where cricket is more a batsmens game is worth recording. I would rate Akram as arguably the best left arm fast bowler cricket has produced and a handy lower order bat. Its easy for people to accuse that he did not make full use of his talent but given what he has gone thru..he knows best. Thanks Waz for being what you are a true fast bowler not to forget that you also come across as a good human being from whatever I have read or seen on TV.

  • M.Qazi on October 17, 2009, 17:51 GMT

    He was my boyhood hero, he still is. My ultimate inspiration, be it in cricket or life. I worship him as a player till today, and firmly believe that in terms of skills as a bowler, nobody will ever come near him. He could bowl 6 different bowls in the same over. Could run only 13-14 paces and deliver in high 80s. No one ever had such command over yorkers.

    Yes, he was an underachiever, yet his stats are among the bests. He led and played for a country who degraded him more than once, yet till his last match, he was as big as anything that surfaced Pakistani cricket. He will always remain the best left arm bowler and the greatest of his generation.

    This article focuses on his sublime skills and injuries. It puts reverse swin trade as Wasim's specialization which is absolutely correct. If Maradona changed football on the dribbling front, Wasim Akram changed cricket in the reverse swing mastery!

    "Give him a place to stand and he'll swing the world - Geoffrey Boycott

  • pradeep_dealwis on October 17, 2009, 16:37 GMT

    one of the many greats that made cricket, specially ODIs, so interstin in the 1990's....Akram is arguably the greatest bowler One Day Cricket has ever seen...and his contribution and effect on pace bowling, to rejuvenate it as an art withe the use of reverse swing is only comparable to the effect Warne and Muarli had on rejuvenating the art of wrist spin! cricket was of a different quality because of the great bowlers of the era, like Akram, Walsh, Donald...and that's exactly what cricket needs now...quality pace bowling!!..to make it intersting agin!

  • alkasol on October 17, 2009, 16:07 GMT

    Wonders of wasim are great.... True no one could bowl so much variety as he could... If he had supportive wickets he could have ended up with 1.5 times more wickets but yeah he was great along with waqar... the toughest pair to face ever in history...

    W's ruled for over 10 years without a doubt...

  • Engle on October 17, 2009, 15:55 GMT

    Wasim was an underachiever, a glaring omission in the article. Despite his extraordinary performances, he could have done much better had he applied himself seriously and extracted every ounce of his natural talent. And he had no better mentor to follow that ethic than that of the great Imran, who was less talented but possessed greater determination. No matter. For all we know, had he harnessed his talent to the max his numbers may have improved...but we may have been denied his joie de vivre, his unleashed volatility, his explosive expression of energy. After all, the game needs not numbers men; but colorful characters with personality to append to their performances.

  • anderson2010 on October 17, 2009, 15:49 GMT

    Wasim. Better then the most and my most favorite bowler. He was in different league compared to some of the others. He was able to work batsmen over. He was a thinking bowler.

  • Slims on October 17, 2009, 15:00 GMT

    For me no one bowler we had like Wasim and I am sure no one will be in future alao... He is great bowler. In 90's (I donno exact year), he troubled Brian LAra for five times with LBW appeales, BUt in sixth bowl Lara got uot with LBW itself, when lara was in great form and WI chasing low score, but unfortunately they WI lost wasim took 4-17 and grabed man of match.... what a great palyer

  • RaoHaider on October 17, 2009, 14:33 GMT

    Wasim is one of the greatest fast bowlers the game of cricket has ever seen....

    yes Imran, Botham, kapil all are great legends of the game but he is among those who kept his nerves cool with the modern cricket.... he was alwaz ready to prove for what he was capable of...

    Wasim is a true hero....

  • SureshAmsterdam on October 17, 2009, 12:33 GMT

    Guys, I think Gideon is trying to put Wasim's extraordinary career and skills in recerse swing in the context of how difficult it was for him to perorm at such a high level for so long. There are many other articles where you can read about his feats as a bowler; and Gideon does place him at the top in terms of wickets obtained bowled or lbw. Similar to Aakash Chopra's articles, it is very interesting and inspiring to see that this great Pakistani bowler, like Sachin, Ponting, Lara, McGrath, Warne and others, was only human; that his body broke down; but that he came back again and again, through sheer force of will, to accomplish suchgreat things. Don't you agree?

  • getgopi on October 17, 2009, 12:13 GMT

    I had only heard of how Akram found out one day -- close to his retirement days -- that he was diabetic. But that there is quite an injury history. And he played through all that?! Admirable!

  • azharpate on October 17, 2009, 11:52 GMT

    yes, get me one cricketer in world cricket who could bowl all six deliveries differently.......but wasim could and ths why he is just the one born in century.very difficult to find anyone with wasim class and stature.......truely genius and born prodigy.......we will always miss him on the field.......

  • Manuu on October 17, 2009, 10:48 GMT

    The best fast bowler that I have ever seen. His ability to make the ball talk on unfriendly surfaces coupled with the sheer beauty of his action are unparalalled. Seems like a good human being as well.

  • cric_freak88 on October 17, 2009, 10:39 GMT

    i think the Gideon Haigh is tryna tell that amid all the controversies / injuries Akram alwayz came out on the top !

    he was one of a kind .. its hard to see any bowler of his caliber to be produced in the int'l scene .

  • kavalier on October 17, 2009, 10:32 GMT

    I totally agree, as an Indian I did not like him too much, especially against us. But his bowling action was the best adn really a thing of grace. He was the epitome of fast bowling and along with Waqar was a real jewel in the crown of Pakistan criciket. Also when a tribute lets focus on the greatness that he had and his standing in the pantheon of greats not of Pakistan but of world cricket.

  • Alex909090 on October 17, 2009, 10:04 GMT

    Chill out guys..When this article was written..Wisi was still playing!

  • zak123kaif on October 17, 2009, 10:04 GMT

    No doubt wasim akram was a great bowler.

  • fk360 on October 17, 2009, 9:58 GMT

    Wasim's prestige grows with years..this was written in 2002 and doesn't really give Wasim the credit he deserves. I'm not particularly interested in injuries nobody now remembers them.

    What everyone does remember was a uniqueness which in years gives greater respect to Wasim than an article ever could, when a plethora of fast left arm bowlers and mentioned as the 'next' Wasim..each coming and fading and not even achieving 25% of what accomplished.

    Each failure that comes and goes followed by archive footage of Wasim's brilliant career is a great testament to him and to be fair he is revered by one and all now.

  • Charm78 on October 17, 2009, 9:08 GMT

    He is the greatest and most talented fast bowler ever and one of the inventors of the game. He should go on to run a coaching academy for fast bowling like Dennis Lillie does in MRF.

  • Hammad.Fayyaz on October 17, 2009, 9:03 GMT

    One of BEST of The Bests and THE BEST Left-arm Fast bloler the world has ever seen. Im fortunate to live in that era to see Wasim bowling. Despite of elegations against him, he still managed to perform well, there was a time when his teamates use to say "You love him or hate him, you can't avoid him". He was a genuine reverse swinger with high arm action. I cant forget his wickets of Lamb & Lewis (1992 WC), Sachin Tendulker (Sharjah, middle stump uprooted), Dravid (1999, Chennai) & Pak tour to England (Summer 1992). On batting paradises of sub-continent, he has just kept alive the burn n desire in the youth to become a fast Bowler, after Imran Khan. This can also be considered as his major contribution to Pakistan Cricket (to inspire youth to be like him). A Man to Remember as an Empror of Swing and Master of sensing the batsman's limitations. Thank You Wasim Akram, for all your contribution to Pakistan and World Cricket.

  • Itchy on October 17, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    Agree with all comments so far - as an Australian looking at the Pakistan line-up with Akram in it,you were always fearful of what he would do.

    Plus, MutazalzaluzzamanTarar, Warne was never found to use steroids but a diuretic which could be used as a masking agent for steroid use. I do agree that the article focused too much on scandals/injuries rather than his extraordinary abilities and feats.

  • nawwabsahab on October 17, 2009, 8:17 GMT

    is it really a tribute ? or a try to place akram in a medical museum.....? he was one of his kind but you can surely write about his cricketing greatness other than his illnesses.....

  • Roamer on October 17, 2009, 7:56 GMT

    He really was a world class bowler, whether it was a new ball or old .... he knew how to swing it and make it talk, never seen a fast bowler with such great skills. I believe this is reason why all the top batsmen of modern era regard him the best fast bowler they have ever faced.

  • rzi-BDML on October 17, 2009, 7:42 GMT

    every one in Pakistan was surprised when Wasim was not included in hall of fame. Most of the Pakistanis (and may be most of the world) rate him higher than any cricketer in Pakistan, despite d fact that Imran Khan won the World Cup. But that too would have be difficult without Akram's top class bowling. I remeber a test match in Lahore in 1999 Sri Lankan batting at the end of day started Wasim Removed opner (Perhaps Jaysuria), then came Vass, the night watch man, and was bowld by Akram on very first ball, Then got Mahela ct in slip on very 1st ball. A hat trik. sencond consecutive hat trick in two matches. A REAL TREAT TO WATCH. I WILL TELL MY GRAND CHIDREN THAT I HAD SEEN THE WONDER OF CRICKT, WASIM AKRAM

  • Anand_S on October 17, 2009, 7:29 GMT

    I am really glad some one mentioned something about one of the best cricketers Pakistan ( and the entire world has seen). Infact I always felt he was not given due credit for the allrounder he is. May be his bowling was so magical that people did not even look carefully into his batting?? But was a bowler, he was nothing short of a wizard. He could keep the batsman guessing every ball. I just cant forget the two consecutive balls he bowled to Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in the final of the 1992 WC. There is a video in youtube where he bowls a ball to Robert Croft. its a must see. Sometimes the kind of deliveries he bowls seems to defy the laws of Physics. Hats off to one of the best fast bowlers cricket has ever seen. I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in an era where I could grow up watching the likes of Kapil, Imran, Hadlee, Botham, Wasim, Waqar, McGrath bowl.

    In another note, I would say that the author should have done a better job on focussing on Wasim's achievements.

  • pitchedoff_hitoff on October 17, 2009, 6:49 GMT

    I remember Wasim flying in a chopper to bowl his quota of overs for an exhibition match in London for Imran's hospital cause. What a spell that was.. Then there was the bouncer which hit Tendulkar on his helmet (when Sachin was undisputed no. 1) on a dead wicket in Sharjah.. followed by a four n six and one of the best slower balls to bowl him followed.. Then there was the four feet swinger in Chennai to knock of Rahul's off bail.. started from wide outside leg and clipped the bail.. I can go on and on.. But as an Indian Team supporter.. The best compliment the I can possibly give was that he evoked fear... The fear of ripping through the batting line up.. What a player.. Salutations to you..

  • mayuri78 on October 17, 2009, 4:28 GMT

    No doubt with all the controvarsies in his career, he will always remain one of the bet cricket has ever produced

  • mumbaiguy79 on October 17, 2009, 4:20 GMT

    Probably one of the best fast bowlers one can wish to watch. A rare genius of his time. I wish India had produced a Wasim with only 10% of his ability. Fantastic to watch but equally boring to hear as a commentator :).

  • MutazalzaluzzamanTarar on October 17, 2009, 3:57 GMT

    Is this supposed to be a tribute? The whole "article" is either focused on scandals or injuries with some sparse mention of Wasim's greatness as a player sprinkled in between.

    Why doesn't every article on Warne just focus on his steroid use or the matchfixing scandal? Why are his incomparable skills as a spinner mentioned when Wasim clearly can't get similar consideration as a great player?

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  • MutazalzaluzzamanTarar on October 17, 2009, 3:57 GMT

    Is this supposed to be a tribute? The whole "article" is either focused on scandals or injuries with some sparse mention of Wasim's greatness as a player sprinkled in between.

    Why doesn't every article on Warne just focus on his steroid use or the matchfixing scandal? Why are his incomparable skills as a spinner mentioned when Wasim clearly can't get similar consideration as a great player?

  • mumbaiguy79 on October 17, 2009, 4:20 GMT

    Probably one of the best fast bowlers one can wish to watch. A rare genius of his time. I wish India had produced a Wasim with only 10% of his ability. Fantastic to watch but equally boring to hear as a commentator :).

  • mayuri78 on October 17, 2009, 4:28 GMT

    No doubt with all the controvarsies in his career, he will always remain one of the bet cricket has ever produced

  • pitchedoff_hitoff on October 17, 2009, 6:49 GMT

    I remember Wasim flying in a chopper to bowl his quota of overs for an exhibition match in London for Imran's hospital cause. What a spell that was.. Then there was the bouncer which hit Tendulkar on his helmet (when Sachin was undisputed no. 1) on a dead wicket in Sharjah.. followed by a four n six and one of the best slower balls to bowl him followed.. Then there was the four feet swinger in Chennai to knock of Rahul's off bail.. started from wide outside leg and clipped the bail.. I can go on and on.. But as an Indian Team supporter.. The best compliment the I can possibly give was that he evoked fear... The fear of ripping through the batting line up.. What a player.. Salutations to you..

  • Anand_S on October 17, 2009, 7:29 GMT

    I am really glad some one mentioned something about one of the best cricketers Pakistan ( and the entire world has seen). Infact I always felt he was not given due credit for the allrounder he is. May be his bowling was so magical that people did not even look carefully into his batting?? But was a bowler, he was nothing short of a wizard. He could keep the batsman guessing every ball. I just cant forget the two consecutive balls he bowled to Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in the final of the 1992 WC. There is a video in youtube where he bowls a ball to Robert Croft. its a must see. Sometimes the kind of deliveries he bowls seems to defy the laws of Physics. Hats off to one of the best fast bowlers cricket has ever seen. I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in an era where I could grow up watching the likes of Kapil, Imran, Hadlee, Botham, Wasim, Waqar, McGrath bowl.

    In another note, I would say that the author should have done a better job on focussing on Wasim's achievements.

  • rzi-BDML on October 17, 2009, 7:42 GMT

    every one in Pakistan was surprised when Wasim was not included in hall of fame. Most of the Pakistanis (and may be most of the world) rate him higher than any cricketer in Pakistan, despite d fact that Imran Khan won the World Cup. But that too would have be difficult without Akram's top class bowling. I remeber a test match in Lahore in 1999 Sri Lankan batting at the end of day started Wasim Removed opner (Perhaps Jaysuria), then came Vass, the night watch man, and was bowld by Akram on very first ball, Then got Mahela ct in slip on very 1st ball. A hat trik. sencond consecutive hat trick in two matches. A REAL TREAT TO WATCH. I WILL TELL MY GRAND CHIDREN THAT I HAD SEEN THE WONDER OF CRICKT, WASIM AKRAM

  • Roamer on October 17, 2009, 7:56 GMT

    He really was a world class bowler, whether it was a new ball or old .... he knew how to swing it and make it talk, never seen a fast bowler with such great skills. I believe this is reason why all the top batsmen of modern era regard him the best fast bowler they have ever faced.

  • nawwabsahab on October 17, 2009, 8:17 GMT

    is it really a tribute ? or a try to place akram in a medical museum.....? he was one of his kind but you can surely write about his cricketing greatness other than his illnesses.....

  • Itchy on October 17, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    Agree with all comments so far - as an Australian looking at the Pakistan line-up with Akram in it,you were always fearful of what he would do.

    Plus, MutazalzaluzzamanTarar, Warne was never found to use steroids but a diuretic which could be used as a masking agent for steroid use. I do agree that the article focused too much on scandals/injuries rather than his extraordinary abilities and feats.

  • Hammad.Fayyaz on October 17, 2009, 9:03 GMT

    One of BEST of The Bests and THE BEST Left-arm Fast bloler the world has ever seen. Im fortunate to live in that era to see Wasim bowling. Despite of elegations against him, he still managed to perform well, there was a time when his teamates use to say "You love him or hate him, you can't avoid him". He was a genuine reverse swinger with high arm action. I cant forget his wickets of Lamb & Lewis (1992 WC), Sachin Tendulker (Sharjah, middle stump uprooted), Dravid (1999, Chennai) & Pak tour to England (Summer 1992). On batting paradises of sub-continent, he has just kept alive the burn n desire in the youth to become a fast Bowler, after Imran Khan. This can also be considered as his major contribution to Pakistan Cricket (to inspire youth to be like him). A Man to Remember as an Empror of Swing and Master of sensing the batsman's limitations. Thank You Wasim Akram, for all your contribution to Pakistan and World Cricket.