Calcutta/Islamabad: It’s not a tug of war between India and Pakistan for Wasim Akram as bowling coach. Yet, it has become an issue nonetheless. Ending speculation that the Sultan of Swing may be offered the job of assisting Indian seamers, the BCCI on Wednesday clarified it has not even “thought of doing so.”
Later in the night, PCB chairman Tauqir Zia announced in Islamabad that they would like to have Akram working on the development of fast bowlers in Pakistan and may offer him a job too. “We want Akram with us, we would like him to assist the PCB in the development of our fast bowlers,” Zia said.
Adding to the drama, a petition was filed in a Lahore court that Akram must be stopped from taking up the India job. “India is our enemy. Akram should not be allowed to join the enemy for money. It is tantamount to a retired army official training the Indian army,” the petitioner, not connected to the PCB, argued.
Akram has been summoned to appear before the court on Friday to respond to the petition. PCB chief executive Rameez Raja, however, appeared to have taken an open stance, saying it was upto Akram to decide. “It’s his call and we have no objection to that,” Rameez said.
Zia was absolutely clear on what he had in mind. “The former Pakistan skipper should contribute to the development of Pakistan cricket. It is time to return something to your country, which it owes from you, as you earned fame and everything here. You must consider what your country demands from you. You should serve your country rather than serving abroad.”
BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya dismissed any Akram-related speculation, saying the Board had not even thought of the former Pakistan captain, leave alone approach him. “I don’t know why people are making such speculations. The BCCI hasn’t approached him, neither have we thought of doing so,” the BCCI president said.
India coach John Wright said he wouldn’t mind a bowling coach assisting him, but had no idea whether Akram had been approached. Wright said it was important for the Indian bowlers to get the right advice. “A bowling coach is a good option, but it’s upto the BCCI to decide who will take up the responsibility.”
Asked whether Akram’s tips would be sought during the tour of Australia, Wright said: “I always encourage youngsters to seek advice from great players when they are around, whoever they are and whatever their nationality is.”
Before that, at a programme organised by a sports channel in Calcutta, Akram said: “I have played the game for 20 years and would love to utilise the experience. If India come up with a good offer, or for that matter any other country, I’ll definitely consider it. I’ll have to talk to my present employers and see how best things can be worked out.”
Reactions were rather volatile in Pakistan. Najmul Abbas, the man to move court in Lahore, and his lawyer said: “Akram is like a nuclear weapon and with the Indians due to tour Pakistan next year, the PCB must stop him from grooming Indian fast bowlers.”
The same lawyer is fighting a case against Akram for modelling in a liquor advertisement in India.