Part II of our three part series on fast bowling is with Wasim Akram! You can catch Part I with Shoaib Akhtar HERE. We’re still talking about Indian fast bowling – why is it that India struggles to find quality pace bowlers, while Pakistan seems to find them on a far more consistent basis?
Since consistency is a constant theme in this series, that’s what we started off with. Akram explains that Indian bowlers can get away with changes of pace and slower deliveries in India, but those variations don’t work on pitches in Australia, England and South Africa. In his opinion, yorkers are the key to success in those conditions, and that’s what Indian bowlers lack. So how can Indian bowlers be successful at bowling yorkers? Akram’s answer captures it succinctly – ‘You can only practice yorkers in the nets, there is no rocket science to it’
‘Indian fast bowlers are overworked’ is a line that’s used a lot, when discussing the state of India’s pacers. We asked Wasim Akram what he thought about that theory. His answer was quite frank – ‘There is nothing like bowling too much, you can only improve by bowling too much’. So that pretty much ends that theory!
Akram’s explanation is far more simple ‘ Indian fast bowlers don’t have a father figure or a mentor in their team’. He also talks about what Shoaib Akhtar talked about earlier – The need to have a fast bowler at mid-on or mid-off. He talks about how the presence of Imran Khan, Waqar Younis and even Shoaib Akhtar helped him greatly. In his opinion, ‘nowadays Indian bowlers run in, and if they get hammered, nobody talks to them’.
So who does Akram like then, of the current crop? ‘I like Umesh Yadav, the way he runs in. However, sometimes he goes off, as a bowler’. Akram then talks about the need for consistency – ‘There is no such thing called bowling in patches, either you bowl consistently, or you don’t’. He understands though, that in modern day cricket, bowlers are likely to go for runs. He’s not completely forgiving though – ‘I can understand if someone goes for runs four out of ten times, but eight out of ten? That’s not consistency’. We can’t agree more. He ends with re-affirming his faith in Umesh – ‘he has the pace and the ability’
Finally, we end with the one bowler that India loves to discuss the most – Irfan Pathan. It’s well known that Wasim Akram and Irfan Pathan are friends, and that Akram played a big brotherly role in Pathan’s success. He tells us that he’s still in touch with both Irfan and Yusuf, and that he knows the Pathan family as well. So what went wrong with Irfan Pathan’s bowling then? ‘I’m not sure why his pace reduced over the years, but he was taking too many opinions’. He ends with a suggestion to all aspiring fast bowlers – ‘If you’ve got swing, just concentrate on swing. Don’t worry about pace, eventually pace will come, but remember, eventually swing will get you wickets’.
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