Wasim Akram started cricket at a very young age of just 16 in 1984 with the tour of New Zealand and Australia under the captaincy of the street-smart Javed Miandad. It wasn’t too late until Wasim managed to instill the fear of his bowling amongst his opponents. In fact, on his very first tour, he brought Lance Cairns of New Zealand down to the ground with his swift-pace bouncer hitting the batsman on the head.
Toe-breaking Yorkers, deadly bouncers, this was just a glimpse of what Wasim would do with the batsmen, some even trembled with fear while facing him. The fact fear of getting out, the fear of getting a sore foot, a bouncer to the head, or the fear of being humiliated as a batsman were some of the things that batsmen felt.
He would swing the ball in and out, hit it on the helmet and his variety would make the batsman leave wondering what he should do to keep these deliveries out. He showed a glimpse of that while bowling to Rahul Dravid during the ’99 Chennai test when the first two in-swingers pitching on good length almost went through from between Dravid’s bat and body, on the third ball Wasim went wider in the crease to deliver an out-swinger that went on to remove the right bail of the stumps that not only left Dravid stunned at his crease.
In 1992, the mammoth crowd at the MCG for the World Cup final witnessed Wasim special, when the partnership between Neil Fairbrother and Allan Lamb looked threatening for Pakistan, but the magic was yet to be seen. During the drinks break in England’s innings, Wasim asked the captain, Imran Khan, to let him bowl a couple of overs. Imran agreed. As always, Imran was fielding close from where Wasim would run in to deliver the ball.
The left-arm, round-the-wicket, moving away from the crease bowling two seaming deliveries, one moved away from the batsman that removed Allan Lamb and the next delivery moved in that bowled the new batter, Chris Lewis, it was sheer class of the young Wasim.
It was no surprise that the amazing work was done by Wasim. That was the end of England’s quest for the world cup as Richie Benaud said “Allan Lamb has been cleaned up, and perhaps, so too England…”.
The Sultan of Swing, the Magician, the man of Pakistan’s Cricket, the Left-arm expert, there might be disagreement on what should we call Wasim but the world would definitely agree at one thing, Wasim was the greatest left-arm bowler of all time. A legend, who along with Waqar Younis, under the elderly guidance of Imran Khan and Javed Miandad, changed the essence of fast bowling from bouncers to Yorkers.
With 414 test wickets inclusive of two hat-tricks and 502 ODI wickets also include two hat-tricks, Wasim called it a day from international cricket after Pakistan’s exit from the 2003 World Cup. Wasim was a cricketer about whom, the Australian great, Allan Border said that if he would get the chance to be reborn and had the choice of who he would be, he would want to be Wasim Akram. This is the class of this legend. If Wasim Akram had been in some other country there would’ve been a monument of him, sadly in our country we treat heroes not exactly how they deserve to be treated. Those who have seen him play are the blessed words fail to do justice with the greatness this man holds. He was a class of his own, a maestro on the field and a nightmare for batsmen on and off the field. Today is the legend’s 50th birthday, It is hard to think of another Wasim Akram being born so let’s wish ‘the gift to Pakistan’ a very happy birthday.
Saalgirah Mubarak, Wasim Bhai.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent ARY policies or opinion.