| Accolades flow in from both sides of the border for the ‘master’
Islamabad: Legendary all-rounder and his mentor Imran Khan rated Wasim Akram alongside Michael Holding of West Indies as two of the greatest bowlers the world has ever seen.
Akram decided to quit international cricket Sunday.
“I reckon Wasim and Holding as two of the best and most natural fast bowlers of the century,” Imran said.
“Grooming Wasim was the easiest thing because he was naturally gifted. All I ingrained in him was the ability to take wickets,” Imran added.
The rest of the Pakistan cricket fraternity also heaped praise on Akram.
Captain Rashid Latif, who is leading Pakistan in the triangular series in Sri Lanka, said he was sad to know Akram’s decision to retire.
“I don’t think we will see someone as naturally talented as him for a long time now. I have never seen a greater cricketer or sportsman than him,” Latif said.
“It is sad to hear about his retirement. But it was something that was playing on his mind for sometime now.”
Akram, who has a world record 502 wickets in one-day Internationals apart from 414 Test scalps, was dumped out of the Pakistan team, along with some of the senior players, after the team’s disastrous World Cup campaign earlier this year.
Another former captain Javed Miandad, who introduced a raw Akram to the world stage, echoed the sentiments of Imran. “Wasim was one of the greatest finds for Pakistan cricket in the last two decades,” Miandad, now coach of the national side, said in Colombo. “I still feel proud to have pushed him into the Pakistan team.”
Pakistan Cricket Board chief Lt. Gen. Tauqir Zia also paid rich tributes to Akram and said his 19-year experience at the international level would be suitably utilised to train newcomers.
“We do not want to waste those 19 years of international experience. We would definitely like to use his experience for the promotion of the game in the country,” Zia said, adding that Akram could be asked to train young bowlers at the academy.
Meanwhile, Latif felt Akram can continue to contribute to Pakistan cricket and he would love to be associated in this endeavour.
“I have always looked up to him as a cricketer. It was an experience keeping to his bowling all these years,” Latif said.
Zia said PCB had a number of plans in mind to honour Akram, one of them being to dedicate one of the one-day Internationals to be played between Pakistan and South Africa in Pakistan later this year to the former captain.
Former Indian captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth rated Akram “as the best he has played against”.
“Akram is the best fast bowler I have ever played. His deceptive bouncers were lethal which made him so successful,” Srikkanth said.
“Akram will be remembered for ever as one of the all time greats,” said Srikkanth who led the last Indian team to visit Pakistan for a Test series in 1989.
“I consider him a hardcore fighter who had given his best for the country. It was unfortunate that he faced problems from his board but he proved himself right always.”