| Waqar Younis
Lahore: Having finished his career with 373 wickets in Tests and 416 in ODIs, former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis is assured of a place in cricketís Hall of Fame. Currently doing TV commentary, the 36-year-old spoke to The Telegraph on Monday afternoon.
The following are excerpts
On the qualities he looks for in emerging fast bowlers
Aggression coupled with calmness... A quick doesnít have to say anything, but he must have that eye contact with the batsman... Youíve got to make him realise you mean business, that youíre out to get him... Sadly, nowadays, except Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee nobody engages in that eye contact... Of course, Allan Donald used to... Then, a quick should also be calm... Unless that calmness is there, the thinking process will get affected. A bowler has to think on two fronts ' about his own bowling and, then, anticipating what the batsman is thinking about. (After a pause) Another quality for me is the hunger to succeed... The willingness to give everything.
On whether the aggression can be put on
Must come naturally, but thereís definitely an element of acting in cricket. Remember, cricketers get prime time coverage! Show business bhi to hai...
On why, nowadays, thereís a dearth of genuinely quick bowlers
This has been so for a decade... Most are either seamers or those who rely on swing... Theyíre happy bowling spells of five or six overs without giving away much. But, surely, bowlers have to get wickets... My feeling is that most of the present-day new ball bowlers probably preserve themselves because of the money thatís at stake... If they break down, then... Look at your own bowlers, they used to be 140 kmph-plus, but are now in the 130s...
On being acknowledged as one of the finest exponents of reverse swing
(Laughs) For the lay man, itís the swing which goes against what the text book says... If the right side is shiny, then the ball is supposed to move away from the batsman... When it does the opposite, thatís reverse swing... I donít know the scientific explanation, but itís the old ball which reverses... Fortunately, I had a nice action and that helped getting the ball to reverse... A slinging action makes a big difference, but most have a high-arm one... Wasim Akram was an exception, but he was one of a kind... Being in the same team, I would be scared facing him at nets... Imagine how the opposition felt...
On his top five fast bowlers
Thatís a difficult question... I canít pick less than six and they are (alphabetically):
WASIM AKRAM: Tops in quality, had all the variations and could bowl the whole day. His hunger never ended... Would rarely be off target and, as Iíve said, left the batsmen scared. In fact, Wasim was getting the ball to reverse even before I learnt it...
MICHAEL HOLDING: Truly the Rolls Royce among quicks... He was so smooth that, at times, even the umpire didnít know heíd gone past... He was light on his feet and had his brand of aggression which added value to the line and length he maintained. Mike stood out despite being surrounded by extraordinary bowlers ' Andy Roberts, Joel Garner...
IMRAN KHAN: My idol... Imran learnt from experience... Changed his action and quickly became a match-winner... He was hugely successful with those big in-swingers when, generally, itís held that batsmen have problems with the away-going deliveries. That I made my debut under him was an absolute dream come true.
DENNIS LILLEE: In my opinion, with time, he improved the most... Dennis was one of my heroes and that lovely action of his was worth going miles to watch. His USP, though, was the aggression... He was the ultimate and inspired a generation of fast bowlers... He wasnít a line and length bowler, but so what' The enjoyment he gave was compensation enough... The way he came back from injuries is testimony to his mental strength and a lesson for emerging quicks.
MALCOLM MARSHALL: Very different to Holding, but a class act... He would even bowl with half spikes... He touched high speeds with that open-chested action of his, despite conventional wisdom suggesting itís tough to be really quick that way... Malcolm had all the qualities and, really, was smart. Indeed, he was effective in Pakistan as well, which alone says much. I remember he had a great spell in a Test in Faisalabad...
GLENN McGRATH: Has never been the quickest, but nobody has been more effective in recent years... Has the ability to land all six balls in one over within a radius of six inches... If thatís not remarkable, I wouldnít know what is... Given his consistency in the corridor of uncertainty, heís more a machine. Glenn has been fantastic in the ODIs, too.
On the Shoaib-Lee rivalry
Shoaibís the fastest, thereís no doubt... The rivalry is good for the game...
He wasted at least three years by not being focused... He has changed, now, but the time lost canít ever be got back... He had problems with the Board, didnít get along with the captains... He has an excellent slower ball ' which is a nice weapon to have ' and is going to do well as long as he stays focused. If I may add, you need to be quick to be effective with the slower one.
On Irfan Pathan
Has lost speed and that could be because of the grip heís using... He never had threatening pace and, now, itís even less... Heís dependent on swing and helpful conditions... I hope his batting isnít taking something away from his bowling.
On whether thereís one fast bowler, anywhere, who is high on potential
I canít, frankly, think of anybody.
On the one batsman who made him sweat
Many at different times... If Iíve got to name one, it will be Brian Lara ' he hit even good balls for boundaries... (After a pause) I didnít play much against Sachin Tendulkar...
On preventing injuries
If the body has a weak area, injuries canít be avoided. Whatís possible is to strengthen that area... Today, the cricketers head for the gym rather than running and running. The legs need to be strong and, for that, youíve got to run for miles. Perhaps, I did a million rounds of the Gaddafi.
Finally, his message for aspiring quicks
(Grins) If you want to bowl quick, remain a quick bowler... Also, donít be scared of injuries'