Wasim Akram wants to help Pakistan`s recovery from pace crisis
Karachi: Pakistan pace legend and former captain Wasim Akram wants to play a role in helping the Cricket Board resolve, what he calls, a "crisis" in the fast bowling department.
Wasim said he was willing to not only help the Pakistan Cricket Board in any venture but would also launch his own talent hunt scheme to unearth raw pace talent and then groom them in a specialised camp in April.
"I want to see Pakistan at the top of the cricket world and the recent performance in the Test series in South Africa has been very disappointing for me. I strongly believe we can still find exciting new pace talent in the country," Wasim said.
A debate has been raging in Pakistan cricket after chief selector Iqbal Qasim last week warned that the country could face a pace bowling crisis.
But Wasim, who dominated Pakistan cricket in the 90s and until his retirement in 2003 in both the Test and one-day formats taking 414 and 502 wickets respectively, said the situation could be rectified.
"Pakistan has always produced exciting and raw pace talent from nowhere and I am pretty sure I can find 10 to 12 such bowlers in the country after a proper hunt," he said.
"In whatever way whether individually or by helping the board I am confident the pace crisis can be overcome."
Wasim said he would hold a two-week training camp for pacers in April.
Pakistan has always had a proud history of producing world-class pace bowlers including Fazal Mehmood, Sarfraz Nawaz, Imran Khan, Wasim, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and more recently Mohammad Asif but have in recent years struggled in this department specially on the ongoing tour of South Africa.
Their most experienced pacer, Umar Gul, took just five wickets in two Tests against South Africa at an average of around 45 and the selectors had to test six different pacers in the series in which Pakistan was whitewashed 0-3.
Even Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq has expressed concern over the absence of pacers in the team who are keen to bowl with the new ball.
Wasim said that not having a chance to play international cricket at home has affected the growth of young pacers here.
"I learnt the tricks of the trade mainly getting exposure against international teams at home. It is ideal for the young pacers to first be groomed in international cricket on home grounds unfortunately this is not been happening in Pakistan."
No Test team has toured Pakistan since March, 2009 because of security concerns after terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.
Wasim also felt that the Pakistani bowlers were not focusing enough on Test cricket.
"For a pace bowler it is very important to play maximum Test matches and he will improve a lot because the real Test in cricket is Test matches. If you are successful in tests you can do well in the other formats as well," he said.
Interestingly no Pakistani pacer features in the current ICC top-10 Test and ODI bowling rankings.