The bowler who wiped the smile off batsmen's faces

Waqar Younis made a young English fan believe that the opposition could be dismissed in the space of balls, not days

Alex Bowden

November 19, 2012

Comments: 77 | Text size: A | A

Graham Thorpe is bowled by Waqar Younis for 10, England v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Old Trafford, 5th day, June 4, 2001
Waqar Younis: a game-changer © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Waqar Younis
Teams: Pakistan

A good deal of my formative cricket-watching took place in the nineties, and an England supporter needed one quality more than any other during this time: blind optimism. Blind optimism was how you managed to endure your favourite sport. You needed hope that there could be more to cricket than a slow, predictable slog to a long-foreseen conclusion, and more specifically, you needed hope that the opposition's 200 for 0 could become 250 all out. Waqar Younis gave me that hope.

I first became aware of Waqar in 1991, in that most old-fashioned way - by looking in the paper. I was only 13 and I didn't exactly read the paper - I just looked at the scorecards and the averages. I always read the bowling averages from the bottom up, saving the best until last. The averages slowly descended by fractions of a run, then suddenly, right at the business end of the table, there was a massive drop. Attached to this ludicrously low bowling average was always the same exotic name: Waqar Younis (Surrey).

Waqar took 113 Championship wickets at 14.36 that year, but I didn't see him play once, which only added to the sense of mystery. My team, Lancashire, had Wasim Akram. I'd seen him and he was awe-inspiring. What the hell could Waqar do that was even better? When Pakistan toured England in 1992, I found out.

That series didn't start with a bang, largely because Waqar was only just returning to action following the small matter of a broken back. In the first Test, he was understandably cautious and the match was drawn. Pakistan won the second Test and he got a five-wicket haul, but it wasn't until the fourth Test, at Headingley, that he created the small shred of hope that was to falsely sustain me for the next ten years.

England actually won the Test, but little things like that don't matter a jot. England were 270 for 1 in their first innings, already 73 ahead, when Aaqib Javed dismissed Robin Smith. At this point Pakistan unleashed Waqar, who had taken no wickets and conceded over a hundred runs. Bowling obscenely fast, he took 5 for 13 in 38 balls and England were all out for 320. Three batsmen were bowled and two unfortunates endured the not-uncommon physical pain of being dismissed lbw Waqar Younis. England had fielded a horses-for-courses attack of Chris Lewis, Neil Mallender, Derek Pringle and Tim Munton. Waqar came on first change.

With just a cursory look, the most striking batting collapses are those when a whole side's been bowled out for double figures. What Waqar did was create batting collapses where none should have occurred. How many times during that largely miserable decade did I watch English seamers potter in under a clear blue sky and think to myself, "If we could get a quick seven wickets, we'd be right back in this"? Waqar Younis showed me that, actually, this wasn't a totally delusional line of thinking, and he therefore gave me the priceless gift of mindless optimism.

It was a virtually unstoppable delivery, and one of Waqar's greatest strengths was that he acknowledged that fact and was perfectly happy to bowl it again and again and again, where other bowlers might have held it in reserve as a surprise weapon

Yet watching Mark Taylor, Michael Slater and David Boon all hit hundreds in the same innings before Mark Waugh "fails" with 99 does more than just create a desperate longing for a bowler who's at his best with the old ball on a dry day. It also creates a pretty deep-seated loathing of batsmen in general. If you've spent whole days watching them gambol about without a care in the world, waving their bats to the crowd with smiles plastered across their smug little faces, then you want to see them knocked down a peg or 40. You want to see their precious stumps spread from third man to fine leg, and you want them to be lying on the ground, not knowing what happened, with their dignity in tatters, when it happens. I don't enjoy seeing batsmen hurt, but the occasional broken toe was collateral damage in an ongoing war.

International batsmen generally have half-decent balance, but the Waqar Younis inswinging yorker made fools of them all. Given a choice between losing their toes or losing their dignity, most batsmen opted for falling flat on their face, a position from where they could better hear their middle and leg stumps going their separate ways. Where Wasim was an expert lock pick with a wide array of tools at his disposal, Waqar just burst through doors with a battering ram so immense he could just as easily have gone through the wall. Wasim could do a million and one devious things with a cricket ball, but Waqar essentially just did one. And he only needed to do one. The Waqar Younis reverse-swinging yorker might just be the most destructive delivery in the history of cricket.

Maybe all of this is painting him as one-dimensional, but it was that yorker that grabbed me when I finally got to see him bowl, and it was that yorker that largely explains his phenomenal ability to run through a batting order in the time it took a dismissed opening batsman to say, "Mind your toes." Delivered with a different, more round-arm action to the one he used when opening the bowling, it was a virtually unstoppable delivery, and one of Waqar's greatest strengths was that he acknowledged that fact and was perfectly happy to bowl it again and again and again, where other bowlers might have held it in reserve as a surprise weapon. It didn't need to be a surprise, because knowing what was coming simply didn't help the batsman all that much.

Waqar Younis cemented my enduring love for bowlers over batsmen. When batsmen are on top, the game develops. When bowlers are on top, the game changes, and it only takes a handful of searing inswingers to turn a match. By applying such mindless optimism whenever England were getting the runaround in the field, I managed to watch far more cricket than I should have done and got hooked on a wonderful game that was trying its damnedest to drive me away.

This article first appeared in the Cricketer magazine. Subscribe here

Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket

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Posted by   on (November 22, 2012, 16:33 GMT)

i cant forget the roarrrrrrrrrrr of the crowd which would get louder and louder once waqar started running towards the pitch..never ever the public got bored..that roarrrrrrrrr remained their forever as long as waqar bowled..i never heard that roar in any other bowlers like wasim or was that run-up and the skills that brought enthusiasm in the crowds

Posted by JBerger on (November 21, 2012, 14:32 GMT)

Part II: Such was the aura of these fine battle-hardened warriors that, there was no "New kid on the block" feeling about them even at their career beginning. It was sad to see Waqa getting injured hence losing speed but what it worth's it was amazing to see him bowling the first three or four years before injury. Post injury sometime he seemed to be a shadow of himself but still had the venom left in him for some sporadic joyous occasions for the crowd who loves their fast bowlers. In the end I want to give a standing ovation and say many thanks to both the fine craftsmen - for giving the spectacular views, which would be hard to come by even in future - especially Waqa as he bowled his heart out in batsmen favoring era while Marshall had other fearsome partners in crime to keep constant pressure on batsmen in more even if not conducive era for bowling.

Posted by JBerger on (November 21, 2012, 14:30 GMT)

Part I: Since the 70s, no other bowlers has their career taken off as Maco & Waqa and by saying that I don't mean their debut. They both were head & shoulder above the rest of very fine bowlers around them. Both had the air full of unflinching confidence about them. Even when wicket seems hard to come by their way, they still looked aggressive, imposing, intimidating to the very fine batsmen. Both were belligerent not by mouth but by their craftsmanship. Their glorious run-up especially Waqar's gave away some anxiety to the spectators, as they always anticipated booming deliveries blasting wickets out of the ground splitting them in half. Quite a few times the furniture would be disturb yards above & away from their footing. Waqar's LBWs were not any less spectacular then his Clean Ups. Pound for pound, stone for stone Maco & Waqa was the best in business.

Posted by Anwar.ul.Haq.Sandhu on (November 21, 2012, 13:34 GMT)

that belief of being in game even in worst situations due to W's..... good old days....... hope we can half someone half as good now :(

Posted by aaaa2aa on (November 21, 2012, 0:52 GMT)

@cricindia208 fast bowling needs guts and glory where you come from fast bowling is unheard of your india still has to produce bowlers like Afridi whose leg break is faster then any of your mediocre bowlers.

Posted by david44 on (November 21, 2012, 0:43 GMT)

@traveler yeah i remember Waqar sustained a back injury before that kolkata test its not surprising in a place like india where pitches are dead as dead you will put extra pace in to get some result of course you will get hurt no wonder why india have'nt produced any quick bowler, afridi's leg break is probably faster then any indian bowler, btw is'nt this same shoaib akhtar who made the batting god shiver in his legs?

Posted by remnant on (November 20, 2012, 19:18 GMT)

@CricIndia208, Wasim and Waqar were a an awesome twosome and though i'm Indian I still rate this pair as the best in history. Actually I had said so back in the 90s but was actually scoffed at by my uncles and cousins, but back then there wasn't any cricinfo or internet to verify or compare. But now its all there - the stats, I mean. Pakistan also won the 1999 Test series in India. Actually it was three tests but then the last was later cut out from this series and made a one-off for the Asian test championship. But nevertheless their team did win it. @ criclover 1969, i recall that match. Was actually in Bangalore when it all happened. Can say the backfoot six by Jadeja was marvellous, but that is perhaps a rare occasion when somebody could hit somthing like that and not a frequent event. Give due credit mate.

Posted by HyderabadiFlick on (November 20, 2012, 19:14 GMT)

Waqar has better record than Wasim in ODI's and Tests.

Posted by Stark62 on (November 20, 2012, 17:21 GMT)

A legend of the game and most definitely underrated!!

Posted by HLANGL on (November 20, 2012, 16:27 GMT)

@"Jstreeter on (November 19 2012, 15:40 PM GMT) ": Yes, if anyone had seen Waqar during 1990-1994 era, he was the world's fastest available bowler by then. That had been the common acceptance by then, his pace was through the air, that's why even on some dead tracks like what we see here in the sub continent, he could simply go flatout fast. Donald was being constant mentioned as the fastest of the white bowlers, not the fastest in the world. Ian Bishop in early 90s generated some serioud pace, but due to the fitness issues etc. he couldn't maintain the same pace thereafter. But I do believe both Aktar & Lee at their peak were 5+ kmph faster than waqar at his peak, both Aktar & Lee operated around 155-160 kmph at their peak. But Waqar's trajectory at his peak (1990-1994) was much more deceptive, so that coupled with 150 kmph speed was something quite serious. He was certainly not like a few of those bowlers availble today who'd operate in 140 kmph & on their best day would reach 150.

Posted by HLANGL on (November 20, 2012, 16:07 GMT)

@"Manish Garedia on (November 19 2012, 23:23 PM GMT) ": I meant Waqar during his very initial period, during 1990-1994 era. While Wasim was getting the batsmen out by testing them, Waqar got them out by simply going flatout fast. I'm pretty sure he was operating around 150kmph by then, though the speed guns were not being used much unlike nowadays. But I can clearly remember in an ODI tournament held in South Africa (SA, Pakistan & SL took part in it) where the speed guns were avaiilable in certain games, he was reaching 147-148 kmph on a regular basis, but by then he was a few years past his peak. So I'm pretty sure during 1990-94 in which period he was simply devastating, he must have been operating around 150 kmph, not quite as fast as Aktar & Lee as they operated 155-160 kmph at their peak. Still waqar at 150 kmph was deadly with his inswinging trajectory, even the best batsmen were simply undone quite frequently.Yes, during his second phase in 2000-2003, he was much much slower.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (November 20, 2012, 14:14 GMT)

Great bowler. Although the back fracture caused a change in his speed, he was surely 150+ bowler before that fracture. People worship Lille with not better figures than Waqar and while he only played at some chosen venues, but despite being a south asian bowler Waqar had supurb stats and much more effective than like of Lille. One has to see Lille's stats in subcontinent which are even worse than Irfan Pathan. Waqar should have been included in all time Hall of Fame even before Lille and Wasim Akram.

Posted by   on (November 20, 2012, 13:27 GMT)

"If we could get a quick seven wickets, we'd be right back in this"? Waqar Younis showed me that, actually, this wasn't a totally delusional line of thinking, and he therefore gave me the priceless gift of mindless optimism.

Beautiful so romantic -

Waqar was phenomenal - some players transcend borders and he was one of them them.....

Posted by hassaanster on (November 20, 2012, 12:05 GMT)

@all the indians claiming waqar struggled against india...he averaged 24 against india in odis picking up 37 wickets from 26 games...please dont give one off games where a mediocre batsman was able to get the better of him...yes he struggled in the tests he played in 1999 but lets not forget he was returning from a back inury and wasnt as quick as before

Posted by malepas on (November 20, 2012, 11:25 GMT)

Very nice article,great read and I agreed every bit of it, I've lost account the numer of times I've seen Waqar with Wasim running through batting line ups, espacially remember watching so many One dayers, where side are around 170-2 in 40 overs and looking to unleash in last 10 overs,and in came 2 W's and got the side out mostly before the 50th over for around 200,,there was a hidden belief instill in us when you used to watch them coming back to bowl that something gonna happen now and more then often it would, like a bollywood movie where you know the end from the first scene. Waqar was on time more destructive then Wasim, as lately he wasn't pushing himself because of his health but Waqar was the hard worker and would just run in no matter what is going on. TO some Indians here, who think that Sachine/Dravid would have better off him,,I sincerely hope they know the game and can tell them that these Indian lads are lucky that they didn't face him much in his peak.A GREAT FAST BOWLER

Posted by SPA001 on (November 20, 2012, 10:39 GMT)

Very nice articles which makes one understand what Waqar Younis was about as the writer has not relied on stats to beef it up. Waqar was certainly unique for he had a very aggressive mind-set and very rightly will be remembered as an able understudy of Imran Khan. In pairing with Wasim Akram, Waqar formed a lethal combination which was far more attractive than the Ambrose-Walsh or Donald-Pollock in the 1990s. Pakistan should rightly be credited with enriching the game of cricket with some wonderful natural talent. At his absolute best, Waqar was as raw as an African beast with both power and precision to match any bowler in the history of the game. The Indian batsmen, with all due respect, should count themselves fortunate that Pakistan's two tours of their country in 1990-91 and then 1993-94 were cancelled. Moreover India itself did not set foot in Pakistan between 1989 to 1997. Right now Pakistan could do with another Waqar to challenge their arch-rivals.

Posted by   on (November 20, 2012, 9:57 GMT)

In a world not of ours, Waqar would have been my god... and i would have worshipped him all day long :-)

Posted by   on (November 20, 2012, 9:09 GMT)

surely Waqar is one of the great bowler of All Time not his time. Every batsman in world not like to face him.

Posted by   on (November 20, 2012, 7:54 GMT)

Superb article.....! Definitely Waqar Younis was one of the great bowler of his time. The game changing ability he had there only few cricket who could do the same. I started bowling fast after seeing his bowling, before that i was an opening batsman. I have lots of regards for him

Posted by TheTraveller on (November 20, 2012, 5:25 GMT)

@Omer Ayaz Waqar Yunis played 2 Tests against India in 1999. He was badly strugling against Indian Batsmen. He was dropped for famous Kolkata test to make a way for Shoaib Akhtar. You guys were lucky he have not played against India in 90s against Dravid and Sachin. Otherwise his bowling average an strike rate would have been different.

Posted by harshthakor on (November 20, 2012, 3:25 GMT)

Waqar was the best exponent of the swinging yorker and arguably the quickest paceman of his generation with Alan Donald.His strike rate of around 42 was remarkable,overshadowing greats like Wasim Akram,Alan Donald and Curtly Ambrose.Infact when hen he reached the tally of 200 wickets he looked to heading as a rival to the likes of Marshall and Lillee for the title of the best paceman of all time.Unfortunately his performances weaned after the halfway stage due to injury.What marginally went against Waqar were that he was outstanding against the weaker teams like Sril Lanka and N.Zealand unlike Wasim who gave some of his best performances against Australia.On mere statistics Waqar was marginally ahead of Wasim,but overall Wasim was the more complete bowler with his great repertoire.Neverthless one of the best paceman of all time who with Wasim formed arguably the best pace bowling duo of all time.

Posted by   on (November 20, 2012, 1:00 GMT)

Two Waqar deliveries come to mind from that 1992 series. The first Waqar bowling to Gower at the Oval. Waqar bowled an over of searing pace and outswing to Gower with Gower digging out a couple of yorkers. Then came one that Gower left but this one swung in and bowled him clean.

The second delivery was to Graeme Hick at Lords in the same series (I think). Hick facing his second ball. Everybody at the ground knew it was going to be a yorker. It was and still Hick was bowled neck and crop.

I heard Botham lauding Waqar as a great bowler on TV the other day and its a pity that in 1992 all one heard from players like him was talk of ball tampering rather than what is clear now: the W's were revolutionizing pace bowling.

Posted by Rahulbose on (November 20, 2012, 0:51 GMT)

Waqar was pretty good with variations, maybe not as good as Wasim but he bowl with good control and could vary his length to good effect.

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (November 20, 2012, 0:45 GMT)

Absolutely fab article, the sight of stumps flying a la waqared, was awesome to watch in the 90's and early 2000's....boy...wish someone from India reaches that level....Waqar was awesome, some of those youtube moments are priceless...!

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 23:49 GMT)

@Omer Ayaz - Nothin against Waqar... I jus love him... But.. It was in the 90's that Waqar took the bashing from India and Jadeja (WC 96 QF). Please remember that :)

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 23:23 GMT) much as I like Waqar...I can guarantee you he was not 150+ bowler..he was 140+. He might have touched 150 once here and there just like many bowlers do..But He had best Inswinging yorker. Also I think he was never afraid of attacking batsman which meant he was quite expensive many times but then he got wickets. On the other side, Akram bowled more within himself. Please dont disgrace Waqar for love of the game by comparing him to Afridi.

Posted by Biggus on (November 19, 2012, 22:39 GMT)

You'd really have to be a bit of a dill to question Waqar's greatness, or not actually know anything about the game. He was something special, the sort of quick bowler who doesn't come along very often at all.

Posted by rogues13 on (November 19, 2012, 21:57 GMT)

As a Kid i hated Wasim, Waqar and Aaqiub (For the number of times they were reason of India's loss). But later on, when i started to understand the game, I have been a fan. Even now i watch videos of the W's destroying batting line ups and feel how did they do that!!! And even Jadeja and Sachin Fans are fans of Wasim and Waqar, anyone who thinks otherwise isnt talking cricket. :)

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 19:51 GMT)

I can easily recall a delivery he bowled to great Lara in Fasialabad. The ball's actual line would have taken it past a seventh off-stump, but it snaked in and went past Lara's defences. the next thing he watched was the pitch up close and listened to the shattering stumps as the ball hit the leg stump. To me, this was the "ball of the century" and not the warnie's one. Guys please search the you tube and decide for yourselves

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 19:41 GMT)

Ge is my favorite Fast Bowler of all time. I'm an Indian and I used to be very afraid of him, when India played Pakistan although I was just a TV spectator.He had a smooth action and no one will ever bowl inswinging yorkers like him.

Posted by gullycover on (November 19, 2012, 19:26 GMT)

Waqar Younis - the cricketer who was idolized by Usain Bolt when he was growing up. Waqar Younis - the fast bowler who revolutionized fast bowling by focusing on full length bowling instead of bouncers. Waqar Younis - the name synonymous with death for the batsmen who will forever see fast bowlers in a different way after the 2 W's. Waqar Younis - the man who never sledged on the cricket pitch. Only gave stares to the batsmen & that was enough to send a chill down the spin. Waqar Younis - THE LEGEND

Posted by CharlesCrasto on (November 19, 2012, 19:16 GMT)

Brilliant writeup!! Normally I don't comment, but had to just respond to CricIndia208 comments regarding (lack of) winning against Australia. I remember the '88 series, the '94 series (both 1-0 in favor of Pak), as well as the '94 series that Pak won 3-0. A clean sweep against Australia.

Posted by mainul079080 on (November 19, 2012, 19:09 GMT)

This article made me nostalgic.Till now, very often i search for videos of Waqar Yunis in You Tune to satisfy my eye and mind.Alas! Why man's life is so short?Why a fast bowler's carrier is shorter than anything? Waqar infact could have played another 2 more years,but for PCB. They chopped players like him,Wasim, Saeed Anwar, Moin, Saqlain, Ijaj after 2003 WC. THAT WAS A HUGE LOSS FOR ME.My heart began to bleed.I shall never forgive PCB. Waqar i shall remember you as long as blood is flowing in my body. You made me romantic about cricket.

Posted by YogifromNY on (November 19, 2012, 18:09 GMT)

Fantastic portrait of a great fast bowler, Alex! I am a US-based supporter of the Indian team - but my favorite bowlers have always been either Australian or Pakistani: McGrath, Shane Warne and Wasim Akram are my top favorites. You give a new perspective to readers about this other superb Pak bowler. Together with Akram, he terrorized batsmen the world over. And that is a good thing in this batsmen-dominated game!

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (November 19, 2012, 18:08 GMT)

In my opinion, Waqar slightly edged out Wasim head to head. Wasim may have been able to reverse swing the ball better, but Waqar always had that extra pace and that better strike rate. Even Tendulkar struggled against the master duo of Wasim and Waqar. The only Non-Australian Player that continuously dominate this duo was Sanath Jayasuriya. Other than him, its tough to think of any other player who had an edge over these guys

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 18:05 GMT)

For me, he remains the most destructive bowler of all time, the one who could turn the game on its head, especially his years before back injuries. Even when he lost pace, surprisingly guile replaced his pace and strike rate never came down. Most cricketing sides would wish to have even half of Wakar as a bowler

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 17:18 GMT)

Alex you are 100% right about each and every thing you write on Waqar. The world fastest man in the world USAIN BOLT also admitted that he forget his own country in LOVE of Waqar unplayable fast bowling.

Posted by nachiketajoshi on (November 19, 2012, 15:44 GMT)

Great tribute to a greát bowler! This made me chuckle - "Given a choice between losing their toes or losing their dignity, most batsmen opted for falling flat on their face, a position from where they could better hear their middle and leg stumps going their separate ways."

Posted by Jstreeter on (November 19, 2012, 15:40 GMT)

@HLANGL Just to support your point, it's worth noting that Mike Atherton said that Waqar's spell at the Oval in 1992 was the fastest through the air that he ever faced - and he faced Lee and Akhtar, not to mention Donald in his prime. That Pakistan attack of 1992 is probably the most exciting I've seen in England; maybe less demanding than the great West Indian attacks of the 1980s, but with much more variety.

Posted by Schez on (November 19, 2012, 15:13 GMT)

Man! He was Attractive.... I Still remember him yorking Dean Jones for golden duck at Sharjah in 1990-91 who had struck back to back centuries....Mr CricIndia208 probably doesnt know anything about statistics or most probabaly about cricket...He is my hero..My Idol..My rockstar.....

Posted by lethal007 on (November 19, 2012, 14:23 GMT)

I was nine year old when Jadeja took over Waqar but i can observe the love and passion of Pakistani fans to Waqar.... It was just a bad day for instance Malinga"s carnage by Samule in T20 2012 final. Simply unplayable bowler at his peak, matchless,he made lara to kiss ground.... WAQAR YOUNIS your are always a hero for me and for true cricketing fans other than racist and bias fans.

Posted by Anwar.ul.Haq.Sandhu on (November 19, 2012, 14:14 GMT)

cric india 2008, this man's greatness doesnt require your approval..... he was the one who made bowling look exciting even in test matches..... across boundaries... whether it be usain bolt in WI, Alex in England or Shoaib akhtar in Pakistan, like millions of other people who idealized him and watch test matches not to see who wins, but to see his spells of bowling.............

Posted by Anwar.ul.Haq.Sandhu on (November 19, 2012, 14:06 GMT)

i idealized this man like any other kid in the 90's.... it was exciting to wait for the ball to get old and come in his hand.... the crowed roar increased with every step that he took towards the pitch expecting wickets to fly towards keeper of every delivery.... as if there is no batsman to defend.. wow :) and even if he defends.... you know he walked out with a crushed toe.... ;)

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 13:54 GMT)

Excellent article about one of the true fast bowlers in the good as the W's were in England in 92(the lords test where the pair won the game with the bat as well as the ball!!!!) i remember a test in Hamilton (in early 93) where the Kiwis needed 127 to win with over two days to play and Wasim and Waqar took 5 a piece to bowl them out for 93.....amazing fast bowling from both of them. Waqar was truly one of the greatest and probably the best bowling pair the world has ever seen

Posted by Shaz999 on (November 19, 2012, 13:40 GMT)

He was my idol growing up, to me he is the greatest ever fast bowler, he used to live few roads away from me and as a kid we used to play cricket with a taped bowl, This was in the late 80s, this was when he started playing 1st class cricket and one day he decided to play it was a privilege facing a few balls from him, will never forget

Posted by SA_Scot on (November 19, 2012, 13:29 GMT)

I've supported SA since about 1993, when I moved away from the country. kept a close eye on them ever since. I remember Waqar being the one bowler in the world during the 90's that I was more concerned about SA facing.

I'm sure he had quite a few occasions where he destroyed our lineup in South Africa (A 45 all out 1-dayer comes to mind).... on the relatively rare occasions that I *remember* him and Wasim playing together, I always wondered why Pakistan never ruled the cricketing world for quite a few years. With Mushie as well....they just had such an amazing bowling attack.

I remember Waqar carrying on in this early 30's, and if you saw him then, believe me, he was a shadow of the bowler her was from his early to late twenties. They guy was beyong astonishing..... so exciting to watch even if you were a die-hard follower of his opposing team :-)

Wasim the brain, Waqar the force....such an exciting combination.

Posted by Oz_boz on (November 19, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

Waqar was a master of ball tempering which is why he could reverse swing it at good pace.. Wasn't great bowler for that reason though he could bowl fast bust so can many others !!

Posted by jackthelad on (November 19, 2012, 13:02 GMT)

Spot on - while Wasim was maybe capable of more variation and tends to get more of the praise, Waqar was to my mind by far the better and more dangerous bowler throughout their dual careers; and, my god - think of it! A team with Wasim at one end and Waqar at the other! There have been few more destructive fast-bowling pairings. Nice article, thanks!

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

Pakistan were the best bowling team in the 90's(Wasim, Waqar and Mushtaq were devasting thorughout), after them came Westindies(second bcoz Walsh and Ambrose were bothe aging) and South Africa(Donald,Devilliers and Pollock), then Australia and others. Yet australia and south Africa would win more matches then Pakistan and Westindies(South africa mostly played at home in the 90's) ....and it was because their bastmen were capable of scroing runs every where. England had a decent batting line up but there bowler's were not good enough to pick 20 wickets for less than 500-600 runs.Same was the case with India and Srilanka.

Posted by HumungousFungus on (November 19, 2012, 11:57 GMT)

A magnificent appraisal of one of the greatest fast bowlers who has ever played the game. I first saw him play in the flesh for Surrey in (I think) 1991 and was struck by both the length of his run up, and the sheer velocity of his bowling. To this day I have not seen quicker (and I was at the Oval when Devon Malcolm took 9-57 against SA). The 1992 series against England was mired in controversy which detracted from the ludicrous genius of the two W's, who were simply revolutionising fast bowling and making very good international batsmen look clueless. My favourite memory of Waqar was playing for my beloved Glamorgan against Lancashire in 1997 where he took 7-25, bowling at preposterous speed, and bowled one hapless Lanky with a full toss that started outside leg and hit the top of off. Any criticism of Waqar in the context of overall Pakistan success is talk among the uninformed. Without Waqar (and, obviously, Wasim) Pakistan would have been also-rans in the 1990's...He was a genius.

Posted by HLANGL on (November 19, 2012, 11:33 GMT)

@"CricIndia208 on (November 19 2012, 07:26 AM GMT) ": You seem to have no clue regarding what a devastating & lethal bowler Waqar had been during the initial phase of his career from early 90s to mid 90s. In fact his career had two distinct phases; during the initial 5-6 years, he was genuinely quick, his first 180 wickets came in only 31 tests at the average of 18 per wicket with the strike rate of about 36 deliveries per wicket. He was consistently operating around 150 kmph with the sharpest of inswinging yorkers known by then. Even in '97/'98, he was operating at 145+ kmph. Shoab Acktar & Brett Lee may have been 5 kmph quicker, yet waqar had more control & the ability to demolish even the best of batting lineups quite single handedly. During the later '90s he was on decline & he was sidelined with the emergence of Acktar in '99. Waqar made a come back in 2000 to play many more games until 2003, but during 2000-2003, he was largely a fast medium bowler operating in 130-135 kmph.

Posted by HLANGL on (November 19, 2012, 11:31 GMT)

@"CricIndia208 on (November 19 2012, 07:26 AM GMT) ": You seem to have no clue regarding what a devastating & lethal bowler Waqar had been during the initial phase of his career from early 90s to mid 90s. In fact his career had two distinct phases; during the initial 5-6 years, he was genuinely quick, his first 180 wickets came in only 31 tests at the average of 18 per wicket with the strike rate of about 36 deliveries per wicket. He was consistently operating around 150 kmph with the sharpest of inswinging yorkers known by then. Even in '97/'98, he was operating at 145+ kmph. Shoab Acktar & Brett Lee may have been 5 kmph quicker, yet waqar had more control & the ability to demolish even the best of batting lineups quite single handedly. During the later '90s he was on decline & he was sidelined with the emergence if Acktar in '99. Waqar made a come back in 2000 to play many more games until 2003, but during 2000-2003, he was largely a fast medium bowler operating in 130-135 kmph.

Posted by nogginthenog on (November 19, 2012, 11:28 GMT)

Simon Wilde's superb book 'Letting Rip', on the Lillee/Thomson/WI era of bang-it-in fast bowling is a great read and concludes with an excellent chapter on the revolutionary effect of Warne, Wasim and Waqar. It's written from the point of view of an unnamed English batsman of the era and examines the psychological and physical effects on the batsman of extremely aggressive fast bowling. Just as batsmen thought they were coming to the end of the bouncer era, up popped the three Ws and things got even more least for some of the England players. The book is no longer in print I think, but it's worth searching for.

Posted by amitgarg78 on (November 19, 2012, 11:19 GMT)

@cricindia208 You don't know your cricket. Waqar was one of the most destructive bowlers of all times. Swing and pace, he had them both. He didn't bore you to death like McGrath, he was exciting to watch. More than anyone in this era, his wicket taking ability didn't need others to catch the ball coz he would do it himself. Phenomenal!

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 11:04 GMT)

a true legend, always bowled fast and furious.

Posted by cyberstudent on (November 19, 2012, 10:50 GMT)

Excellent way to pay tribute.. Cricket will miss him.

@ CricIndia208 are you kidding? look at his bowling averages, and the amount of matches he played to get those wickets... pakistan mainly loss series overseas due to batting not bowling.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 10:39 GMT)

For those who don't understand cricket and have never played any real competetive level crickett would never understand that how hard it is to have that accuracy and run through the line up's. For Cric India 2008 - Winning in Australia back in the 90's needed more than just waqar younis and Pakistan have failed there mainly because of their batsman. In South Africa, Pakistan was the first asian team to win a test match in 98 and they drew the series ( waqar took 10 wkts in one test) where as it took India and Srilanka another decade to win in SAF. Against West Indies in 93, when WI was still the best team, he was the highest wicket taker from either team with 19 wickets, and you guys were lucky that Ind didn't play Pakistan is the 90's, else he would have made mockery of India in those spinning macthes, and even when he played in Chennai ( though he had lost the old nip) he still took two quick wickets in Ind's 2nd innings and almost got Sachin too, remember!!

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

he was my idol when i was growing up. I was lucky to meet him not once but twice. he was the fast bowler of his generation and established the fact you dont need the help of fielders to take wickets. He had a unwavering self-belief in his ability to win match single handedly. His ruthless streak as a wicket-taker at death is unbeatable. Great article buddy

Posted by Gilliana on (November 19, 2012, 10:27 GMT)

Undoubtedly, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis are the two greatest bowlers of our time

Posted by malik86 on (November 19, 2012, 9:58 GMT)

@CricIndia208. pak have won in india and also they have beaten oz in home(1994), famous karachi test which pak won on the miss stumping chance of healy

Posted by Y.Raza on (November 19, 2012, 9:55 GMT)

@ CricIndia208: numbers speak louder than your statements. Waqar Younis (ODI 416 wickets at 23.8 a piece) & (373 test wickets at 23.5 a piece). You can count number of bowlers with these figures on finger tips, surely few of them will be from Pakistan. Ciao

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 9:45 GMT)

What a fantastic way to pay tribute to a bowler ! Excellent write.

And secondly, look at the batsman in the picture. How can you make a batsman stand with both feet alligned and bat lofted aimlessly in the middle?

Its genuis.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 8:59 GMT)

Any kid who bowled fast was called waqar. in our playing days.. :)

Posted by schathuranga on (November 19, 2012, 7:50 GMT)

atleast Only one player to compare with doubt he is malinga "the sri lankan lion.

Posted by mtalhas on (November 19, 2012, 7:47 GMT)

excellent article. what a legend this guy is. this article is probably the first one to clearly point out the difference which lies between waqar and wasim. waqar had this ability to change the game at the last moment because he had a 'never give up' attitude. i recently saw a video of coca cola cup final held in sharjah in 2000 against south africa. in that waqar showed how to change a game while bowling in death. he redifined fast bowling. when u think of fast bowling, all that comes to mind is his long run up and full length deliveries. he is one of the all time best fast bowlers with a huge fan base. other than jadeja's fans, everyone loves him across the world!!!

Posted by CricIndia208 on (November 19, 2012, 7:26 GMT)

Waqar Younis is overrated. If he was such a great bowler, why is it that Pakistan are yet to win a series in SA, Australia, India or West Indies. During his time Pak could not even win a test against Oz at home. As I said completely overrated, like many other pakistani bowlers.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

"Waqar Younis cemented my enduring love for bowlers over batsmen." @Alex take a bow... I think Waqar Younis did this to all cricket fans throughout the world...... Waqar will always be the king of the fast bowling tribe! He was wiser than the wisest!

Posted by getsetgopk on (November 19, 2012, 7:19 GMT)

"The Waqar Younis reverse-swinging yorker might just be the most destructive delivery in the history of cricket." Waqar was an Afridi of the bowling kind, only difference though, Waqar was way more successful at his job than Afridi. Both ram into oppositions regardless of they were. Waqar was never interested in 'plotting' against batsmen, he never really took any advice from other bowlers or captain, he was just one dimensional, interested in that woodwork behind the batsman. His stats for bowled and LBW are a record 57% in the history of the game. His yorker was not just a stock delivery as Alex points, he could bowl it all day long and not much the batsmen could do about.

Posted by Pathiyal on (November 19, 2012, 6:47 GMT)

outrageous bowler to say the least!! as gud as my favorite is wasim akram.

Posted by Romanticstud on (November 19, 2012, 6:39 GMT)

I remember a quad series in South Africa with Sri-Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand ... when Waqar took a hat-trick all bowled ... hitting each stump in series ... But then he would be in anyones 90s XI ... Hayden, Dravid, M Waugh, Sachin, Lara, S Waugh, Healy, Warne, Wasim, Waqar, Ambrose ...

Posted by ooper_cut on (November 19, 2012, 6:21 GMT)

He had a beautiful, fluent run up and very clean action, very rare these days.

@ Lakshmi... The waqar reverse swinging yorker was long sorted out before he retired. Remember Ajay Jadeja's last over massacre of Waqar in the 1996 WC QF ? He hit one such ball for a six over long on.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 5:59 GMT)

Another great Pakistani Lion. He had best inswing yorker.

Posted by VivtheGreatest on (November 19, 2012, 5:14 GMT)

Absolutely agree with Alex, the 90's were a decade of great bowlers ( not only fast, we also had Warne and Murali!) .Like he said Akram was a magician who could do anything with the ball even on the deadest pitches but with Waqar u always knew what was coming but still couldnt play it!! Arguably the most famous double act in the history of cricket . Add to that Ambrose, McGrath, Walsh, Donald and Bishop and u can guess how the batsmen and fans of other teams suffered!!. As an Indian fan watching in the 90,s I had the same sense of despair as the English ,the only difference being we could at least win at home!!

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (November 19, 2012, 3:52 GMT)

Everyone loves Waqar Younis. The amount of articles he has writtwn about him, he should probably have his own section on Cricinfo these days.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 3:49 GMT)

" Where Wasim was an expert lock pick with a wide array of tools at his disposal, Waqar just burst through doors with a battering ram so immense he could just as easily have gone through the wall. Wasim could do a million and one devious things with a cricket ball, but Waqar essentially just did one. And he only needed to do one. The Waqar Younis reverse-swinging yorker might just be the most destructive delivery in the history of cricket."

Superb bit of analysis, Alex. This probably the best comparison between arguably the best pair of fast bowlers in history.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 3:48 GMT)

Best article I've read on this site. Because it describes my story perfectly. Just replace England with Pakistan.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2012, 3:38 GMT)

A legend - greatest of all time. respect

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