In 2011 Lancashire County Cricket Club finally won the county championship outright after 65 years and more of missing out. One of Lancashire’s roll call of legends who was unable to lift the trophy during their playing career was Wasim Akram Chaudhry, to give him his full name. He can’t have been too disheartened, as during his career with both Lancashire C. C. C. and the Pakistan national cricket team he won several major honours and broke numerous records.
He was on the Pakistan team who won the 1992 World Cup; in fact he was named man of the match for his performance in the final. As for Lancashire he was a great favourite, with him leading the team as captain to trophies in the 1998 season: the ECB Trophy and Axa League. Wasim Akram’s end-of-career statistics remain impressive and some of his records still stand. At 55 wickets in 38 matches he is still the leading wicket taker at World Cups. He holds the Pakistani record for most Test wickets, with 414 from 104 matches. Until the statistic was broken by that other legendary Lancashire C. C. C. overseas player, Muttiah Muralitharan, Akram was the first player to take more than 400 international level wickets in both test and one day international forms of cricket. He was a handy batsman as well, managing 12 sixes in a Test match Pakistan had with Zimbabwe, although some critics felt he could have attained a higher batting average.
Akram managed to garner the respect and admiration of his peers with Brian Lara, Don Bradman, Ian Botham and Glenn McGrath all having gushed about his bowling qualities. Many rated him as the greatest left-arm fast bowler ever, with his skill leading him to be named one of the two ‘Sultans of Swing’ in the Pakistan international side, the other being Waqar Younis. Despite retiring from the game in 2003 he still maintains a high profile courtesy of his broadcasting activities on behalf of ESPN and others, coaching roles in India and Pakistan, and his online outlets, e.g. Twitter.
Like many of the batsmen Wasim Akram was bowling towards, I have to admit I wouldn’t have enjoyed facing him at the crease when he was in his prime. This is primarily due to the skill and accuracy he showed with his swing and seam bowling, but also because my batting skills are so derisory. Out for 0 in record time would be guaranteed in my case. I’m fairly positive that an in-swinging yorker would be his bowling weapon of choice. Slinking off back to the pavilion would be my fate but admiration for his bowling technique would remain. Thankfully it’s only a fantasy, as no-one likes to be publicly humiliated. Wasim Akram, bowling legend.