February 13, 2002

Wasim Akram shocked at Waugh sacking

Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram said that he was shocked to learn that the Australian captain Steve Waugh was sacked as captain of the one-day squad and dropped from the team to take on South Africa in the return away series.

He was speaking to the press here to cover the Pakistan-West Indies series. "I just heard the news on satellite television that Waugh has been removed... I'm surprised because for the last three years he had won so many tournaments, and just because of his team not making to one final he has been removed. I don't know what the ACB have in mind. This is not good because this will not inspire confidence into the man taking over the captaincy," said Akram.

Akram added that he regarded Waugh as one of the most positive and innovative captains in the game. He particularly mentioned Waugh's aggressive field-placing in limited-overs cricket, such as heavily manning the slips and the off-side field, and bringing fielders inside the circle in the closing stages of the game.

Talking about trends in Pakistan, he said that a captain should be appointed for longer than just one series. "He should be given a decent run before assessing his performance", said he, adding that presently the PCB had adopted this policy and Waqar had been given an extended opportunity.

He was full of praise for the Pakistan captain. "Waqar is really doing well. Winning six Test matches on the trot is quite an achievement. And Waqar has shown the way, he is not just taking wickets, he is taking wickets every game. A team always does better when the captain is well. I'm very happy for the Pakistan team, and my only regret is that I have not been part of this winning team," said Akram.

As for his picking and choosing matches and tournaments so as not to over-burden himself in the run-up to the World Cup, Akram said that first he would want to play a few games to be able to make such a decision. "My problem so far has not been too much cricket, it is playing any cricket. I am sorry that because of injury I have not been part of four out of the six Test wins," he said, mentioning that after the New Zealand tour, if it happens in April, he would be able to decide when to play and when to rest.

About whether he still has any targets, such as 500 Test wickets, he said that right now he had no milestones in mind, and that he just wanted to get 20, 25 wickets up to the New Zealand tour and then think about it. "I've missed out on quite a few in Bangladesh and here, where the conditions suit my type of bowling", said Akram.