Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram   born 3 June 1966) is a former Pakistani cricketer. He was a genuine left arm fast bowler who could bowl with significant pace and left-handed batsman who represented the Pakistan national cricket team in Test cricket and One Day International (ODI) matches.In October 2013,Wasim Akram was the only Pakistani cricketer to be named in an all-time Test World XI to mark the 150th anniversary of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.[1][2][3][4]Akram is regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers in the history of cricket. He holds the world record for most wickets in List A cricket with 881 and is second only to Sri Lankan off-spin bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan in terms of ODI wickets with 502. He is considered to be one of the founders and perhaps the finest exponent of reverse swing bowling.
Akram had a very special talent to move the ball both ways in one delivery which is called “double swing of Wasim Akram”. No one in cricket history has done it so far.[5]6][7]He was the first bowler to reach the 500-wicket mark in ODI cricket during the 2003 World Cup. In 2002 Wisden released its only list of best players of all time. Wasim was ranked as the best bowler in ODI of all time with a rating of 1223.5, ahead of Allan Donald, Imran Khan, Waqar Younis, Joel Garner, Glen McGrath and Muralitharan.[8] Wasim has taken 23 4-wicket hauls in ODI in 356 matches he played.[5] On 30 September 2009, Akram was one of five new members inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.[9][10] He is the bowling coach of Kolkata Knight Riders.[11] but took a break from the position for IPL 6 citing a need to spend more time with family

Early and personal life

Wasim Akram was born in Lahore in a Punjabi family on 3 June 1966.[13] He was educated at Government Islamia College Civil Lines Lahore, where he played as an opening bowler and batsman.[14] Like several other Pakistani cricketers during the 1980s, his inclusion into the national side was at the behest of a senior player in the team, which in Akram’s case, was Javed Miandad.[15]At the age of 30, Akram was diagnosed with diabetes. “I remember what a shock it was because I was a healthy sportsman with no history of diabetes in my family, so I didn’t expect it at all. It seemed strange that it happened to me when I was 30, but it was a very stressful time and doctors said that can trigger it.”[16] Since then he has actively sought to be involved in various awareness campaigns for diabetes.[17]
Akram married Huma in 1995.[18] They had two sons Tahmoor (born 1996) and Akbar (born 2000)[19] from their marriage of fifteen years. Huma died of multiple organ failure at Apollo Hospital in Chennai, India on 25 October 2009.[20]On 7 July 2013, it was reported that Akram had become engaged to Melbourne woman Shaniera Thompson, whom he had met while on a visit to Melbourne in 2011.[21] Wasim Akram married his Australian girlfriend, Shaniera Thompson on August 12, 2013, saying he has started a new life on a happy note.”I married Shaniera in Lahore last week in a simple ceremony and this is the start of a new life for me, my wife and for my kids”.[22]

International career

First-class cricket

In 1988 Akram signed for Lancashire County Cricket Club in England. From 1988 to 1998, he opened their bowling attack in their ECB Trophy, Benson and Hedges Cup and National League tournaments. He was a favourite of the local British fans who used to sing a song called “Wasim for England” at Lancashire’s matches. In 1998, with Akram as captain, Lancashire won the ECB Trophy and Axa League and finished second in the championship tournament despite losing only five matches in all competitions throughout the season.[23]

Test cricket

Akram made his Test cricket debut for Pakistan against New Zealand in 1985[24] and in his second Test match, he claimed 10 wickets.[25] A few weeks prior to his selection into the Pakistan team, he was an unknown club cricketer who had failed to make it even to his college team. He came to the trials at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in Pakistan, but for the first two days he did not get a chance to bowl. On the third day he got a chance; his performance convincing Javed Miandad to insist upon his inclusion in the national team.[15] Akram was hence given an opportunity to play for Pakistan, without any significant domestic experience. Akram’s rise in international cricket was rapid during the late 1980s. When Pakistan toured the West Indies in 1988, he looked to be the fastest bowler between the two sides. However, a groin injury impeded his career in the late 1980s. Following two surgeries, he re-emerged in the 1990s as a fast bowler who focused more on swing and accurate bowling.[26]

One Day International

Akram started his ODI career against New Zealand in Pakistan in 1984 under the captaincy of Zaheer Abbass.[27] He rose to prominence taking five wickets in his 3rd ODI against Australia in the 1985 Benson & Hedges World Championship. His wickets included those of Kepler Wessels, Dean Jones and captain Allan Border.[28]

1983–91

In the 1984–85 Rothmans Four-Nations Cup and the 1985–86 Rothmans Sharjah Cup he took five wickets with a run rate of under 3.50. The 1985–1986 Austral-Asia Cup involved Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and was played in UAE Sharjah. Akram, with the help of Abdul Qadir, bowled out New Zealand’s batting line up for 64 in the second semi final of cup. Pakistan won that game with more than 27 overs to spare obtaining one of the biggest wins in Pakistani history. In the final against India he and Imran shared five wickets. Akram’s wickets included Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri. In the 1987 Reliance World Cup held for the 1st time in the sub-continent, Akram struggled on Pakistani pitches where he managed only 7 wickets with an average of over 40 in 7 matches. Akram played West Indies, Sri Lanka and England twice. All group matches were played in Pakistan.
In the 1988–89 Benson and Hedges World Series he managed figures of 4–25 against Australia.[29] He took his hundredth wicket at Sharjah in 1989–1990 Champions Trophy – 2nd Match against West Indies. His 100th wicket was of Ambrose. In that match he took a five-wickets haul for the second time in his career.[30] In the same match he took his first hat-trick against West Indies. All three batsman were bowled.[30][31][32] On 4 May 1990 in Sharjah, Akram took his second ODI hat-trick against |Australia. All three batsmen were bowled this time also.[31][33]His best years in late 1980s were from 1986–1989 when which he took 100 wickets at 22.71 apiece and economy rate of less than 3.9 run/over with four 4-wicket hauls. His first two hauls against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh came in Sri Lanka in 1986.[34]Up to December 1991 Akram took 143 wickets in 107 matches with an average of almost 24 and economy rate of 3.84.[26]

1992–97

Akram was a significant figure in the 1992 Cricket World Cup held in Australia, when Pakistan won the tournament. In the final against England, his batting performance during his innings of 33 runs off 18 balls, pushed Pakistan to a score of 249 runs for 6 wickets. Akram then took the wicket of Ian Botham early on the English batting innings and when brought back into the bowling attack later on, with the ball reverse swinging, he produced a spell of bowling which led to Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis being bowled in successive deliveries in one over. His performances earned him the Man of the Match award for the final.[35][36] In 1993 Akram took 2 consecutive 4-wicket hauls against Sri Lanka in Sharjah in which 7 out of 8 wickets were either LBW or bowled.[37]
In the 1992–1993 Total International Series in South Africa (involving Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa) he took 5 wickets against South Africa and got his 200th wicket in his 143rd match.[38][39][40] Akram took 46 wickets in calendar year 1993, his best year ever in ODI. His average which was less than 19 with an economy rate of less than 3.8 runs per over. He took six 4-wicket hauls in 1993, the most by him in any year.[40] In the 1996 World Cup he missed the quarter final match against India which Pakistan lost and went out of the World Cup. Wasim’s great career was often tainted by controversy, not least in the Caribbean in April 1993, his maiden tour as Pakistan’s captain. During the team’s stop-over in Grenada, he was arrested along with three team-mates – Waqar Younis, Aqib Javed and Mushtaq Ahmed – and two female British tourists, and charged with possession of marijuana.[41] Between 1994 and 1996 he took 84 wickets in 39 matches.[40]From January 1992 to December 1997 Akram played 131 matches took 198 wickets at an average of 21.86 with 14 4-wicket hauls in ODIs.[26]

1998 to the 2003 World Cup

In 1999, he led Pakistan to the brink of victory in the World Cup before they capitulated and was defeated by Australia in the final, by eight wickets with almost 30 overs to spare.[42] This was the start of the match fixing controversies, as critics believed Akram had set up the match for Australia. However, none of the allegations could be proved.[43][44]He was Pakistan’s best bowler in the 2003 Cricket World Cup taking 12 wickets in 6 matches.[45] However, Pakistan failed to reach the super six of the tournament and Akram was one of the eight players to be sacked by the Pakistan Cricket Board as a result.[46][47]

Records

Akram won 17 Man-of-the-Match awards in 104 tests. He took 4 hat-tricks in International cricket – two in ODIs.[30][33] and two in Tests,[48][49] He finished with 22 Man-of-the-Match awards in ODIs. In 199 ODI match wins, he took 326 wickets at under 19 apiece with a run rate of 3.70 and took 18 four-wicket hauls.[26] His 257 not-out against Zimbabwe in 1996 is the highest innings by a number 8 batsman in tests. He hit 12 sixes in that, most by anyone in a test innings.[50]Prior to his retirement, he was one of eight senior players dropped for the Sharjah Cup in April 2003, and was then omitted from the Pakistan squad for the subsequent Bank Alfalah Cup triangular series.[51] Due to his omission from the team, he did not participate in a farewell match. Akram fulfilled his contract play for Hampshire until the end of the English season.[52]

Post retirement

Media career

Since retiring from cricket, Akram has worked and taken up commentary for television networks and can currently be seen as a sports commentator for ESPN Star Sports and ARY Digital among others. He did commentary on a variety of sporting tournaments including the 2009 Women’s Cricket World Cup in Australia, the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 in England, the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa, and the 2011 ICC World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh..[12]
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