Part III of our series on modern fast bowling focuses on reverse swing and bowling in the death overs – two arts that appear to be missing in the modern game! There’s no better person to talk about this than Wasim Akram, so let’s listen to what he has to say!
Before we begin, Part I with Shoaib Akhtar on Indian fast bowlers can be read HERE. Part II contains Wasim Akram’s opinion on top Indian fast bowlers, and can be read HERE.
We begin by asking Wasim Akram about the one art Pakistani bowlers are best known for – reverse swing. Why do we not see as much reverse swing as we used to?
You can tell that this is a topic Akram feels very strongly about. He begins by telling us that it’s a team effort – the whole team needs to take care of the ball, to ensure optimal conditions for reverse swing. He also explains that practicing reverse swing is not rocket science – bowlers need to keep a ball capable of reverse swing in the nets, and practice accordingly. In his own words ‘No one is trying it anymore, and it’s quite frustrating for me!’
We then move on to another much-debated topic – death bowling. We’ve seen batsmen completely dominate the death overs in modern cricket – so has the balance shifted all that much from Wasim Akram’s time?
Akram disagrees – he believes that the basic principles remain the same, and that a yorker remains the best ball to bowl. He acknowledges that batsmen have evolved to a certain degree – the lap shot and reverse sweep can negate the use of a yorker to some extent. But he maintains that if you can bowl at over 140 km/hr, a yorker is very difficult to counter.
Akram then moves on to the mental aspect of death bowling – he doesn’t believe bowlers concentrate enough on their field, and what the batsman is doing. He believes that a lot of bowlers simply run in without a plan, and contrasts this approach to his own playing days – when he had up to three plans for a particular batsman. Akram also stresses the importance of watching the batsman’s feet – to check if he’s giving himself room, or moving across the stumps to hit the ball to mid-wicket. He ends by insisting that the best counter to this approach is bowling from around the wicket, and focusing on outswingers. A must-watch for fast-bowling enthusiasts!
Finally, we move onto another issue modern fast bowlers face – the need to constantly adapt to different conditions. Akram insists that if you’re a professional, you have to learn quickly. He’s not a fan of kookaburra balls, and insists that the Dukes ball is a much better ball to bowl with! He ends by talking about the need to have a better balance between the bat and ball – a sentiment that is currently echoed by much of the cricketing world!
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