Wasim Akram was born on 3rd June 1966 and was educated at Islamia College Lahore. He is a former left arm fast bowler and left handed batsman in cricket, who represented the Pakistan national cricket team in Test and
Wasim Akram was born on 3rd June 1966 and was educated at Islamia College Lahore. He is a former left arm fast bowler and left handed batsman in cricket, who represented the Pakistan national cricket team in Test cricket and One Day International matches.
Akram is regarded as one of the best fast bowlers in 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 One Day International wickets with 502. He is considered to be one of the founders and perhaps the finest exponent of reverse swing bowling.
The revolutionary nature of reverse swing initially resulted in accusations of ball tampering by cricket critics, although the skill of the reverse swing delivery has now been accepted as legitimate features of ability in cricket. On 30 September 2009, Akram was one of five new members inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.
Akram began his sporting career in Pakistan playing for several cricket clubs. However, like several other Pakistani cricketers during the 1980s, his talent was identified at club level and he was selected into the national side, completely bypassing any domestic First-class competition during that period.
In 1988 he signed for Lancashire County Cricket Club in England and went on to become their most successful overseas players. From 1988 to 1998, he opened their bowling attack in their ECB Trophy, Benson & 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. Apart from the National League second division title in 2003, this was the last time Lancashire won a trophy.
Akram made his Test cricket debut for Pakistan against New Zealand in 1985 and in only his second Test match he achieved 10 wickets in the match. A few weeks prior to his selection into the Pakistan team, he was an unknown club cricketer who had failed to even make it 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 the chance and the observers, around him saw the potential, discovered by Javed Miandad, Akram was given an opportunity to play for Pakistan. Later that season he opened the bowling attack with Imran Khan, who became his teacher at the World Championship of Cricket in Australia.
In the 1987 Cricket World Cup, when Pakistan played against the West Indies, Akram bowled to Viv Richards in the late over’s of the innings but Richards, who is regarded as the best batsman during that period, struggled against Akram's bowling performances.
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.
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 19 balls, pushed Pakistan to a respectable score of 249 runs for 6 wickets. Akram then took the important 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 devastating spell of bowling which led to Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis being bowled in successive deliveries in one over. His excellent performances earned him the Man of the Match award for the final.
He also captained Pakistan with success. The high points of his captaincy was the 1996-1997 victory in the World Series Cricket in Australia, two Test match wins in India in 1998-1999 and in 1999, when Pakistan reached the 1999 Cricket World Cup final. He was Pakistan's best bowler in the 2003 Cricket World Cup taking 19 wickets in 7 matches.
Akram was diagnosed with diabetes at the peak of his career, but despite the initial psychological blow, he managed to regain his form and went on to produce fine cricketing performances. Since then he has actively sought to be involved in various awareness-raising campaigns for diabetes. Akram retired from cricket in 2003 after playing for Hampshire County Cricket Club in England.
An immensely talented player first discovered by former Pakistan batsman and captain, Javed Miandad, Akram played for his college team as an opening bowler and batsman. During his professional career he bowled with genuine speed and hostility. Akram possessed accurate control of line and length, accompanied by seam and swing bowling skills, who could bowl in-swingers and out-swingers in the cricket pitch. With a very quick bowling action, he could bowl equally well from both sides of the wicket. His mastery of reverse swing with the cricket ball meant he was at his most dangerous towards a bowling innings and earned him the nickname of the "Sultan of Swing".
As well as often being able to find the edge of the bat, Akram would also focus his bowling attack on the stumps and had a particularly lethal in-swinging Yorker. Of his 414 Test wickets, 193 were taken caught, 119 were taken leg before wicket and 102 were bowled. In partnership with Waqar Younis, he intimidated international batsmen in the 1990s. Together Wasim and Waqar, known as "the two Ws" of the Pakistani team, were one of the most successful bowling partnerships in cricket.
Akram was also skilled with the bat and was regarded as a bowling all-rounder. He was especially effective against spin bowlers. However, he liked to slog and was criticised for his lack of high scores and giving away his wicket too cheaply for a player of his talent. He did silence his critics and the media in October 1996 when he scored 257 runs not out, of the team's total of 553 against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura. He also achieved good scores for the Pakistan team such as his 123 runs against Australia and his 45 runs not out to take Pakistan to victory in a low scoring match. He was also a valuable member to the Pakistan side, such as his match winning performance in the Nehru Cup, when needing six runs and two balls to win the match; he hit the first delivery he faced for six runs and secured the cup.
Akram was awarded Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1993 for his sporting achievements. In his Test career, Akram took 414 wickets in 104 matches, a Pakistani record, at an average of 23.62 and scored 2,898 runs, at an average of 22.64.
In One Day Internationals, Akram took 502 wickets in 356 appearances, at an average of 23.52 and scored 3,717 runs, at an average of 16.52.
Akram was the first bowler in international cricket to take more than 400 wickets in both forms of the game and only Muttiah Muralitharan has since achieved this. Akram also held the record for the most wickets in Cricket World Cups, a total of 55 in 38 matches. Australia's Glenn McGrath broke the record during the 2007 Cricket World Cup, ending with a final tally of 71 from 39 matches. On passing Wasim's record, McGrath said, "Wasim Akram, to me, is one of the greatest bowlers of all time. Left-armer, swung it both ways with the new ball and he was so dangerous with the old ball. To go past him is something I will always remember. Probably the other side of the coin is that if you play long enough, you're going to break records here and there."
Akram took four hat-tricks in international cricket, two each in Tests matches and One Day Internationals. He is the only bowler in cricket to have achieved four hat-tricks. He is also one of only three bowlers to have taken two Test cricket hat-tricks, the others being Hugh Trumble and Jimmy Matthews. Akram is also one of only three bowlers to have taken two One Day International cricket hat-tricks, the others being Pakistan offspin bowler, Saqlain Mushtaq and Sri Lankan fast bowler Chaminda Vaas.
Akram's Test hat-tricks are significant, since they were taken in consecutive Test matches in the same series a game played against Sri Lanka in the 1998-99, Asian Test Championship. Akram is also one of only two bowlers to have taken both a Test match and One Day International hat-trick, the other being Pakistan fast bowler, Mohammad Sami.
Playing in a Test series against the West Indies at Lahore in 1990-1991, he became one of only six players to have taken four wickets in an over during a Test match. In Akram's case, these achievement were not part of a hat-trick, the third ball he delivered to the batting opposition was a dropped catch, which allowed a single run.
Akram has also achieved the highest score by a number eight batsman in Test cricket when he scored 257 runs not out from 363 balls against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura. The innings contained 12 sixes which is also a world record for Test cricket.
He also has the third highest number of Man of the Match awards in Test cricket, with seventeen. He has scored the record number of runs in One Day International matches by a player who has never scored a One Day International hundred. His highest score was 86 runs.
In 1992, after he had been successful against the English batsmen, accusations of ball tampering began to appear in the English media, though no video evidence of foul play was ever found. Akram and Younis had been able to obtain prodigious amounts of movement from both new and old cricket balls. The skill of the reverse swing delivery was relatively unknown in England and around the cricketing world during that period.
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, ARY Digital and among others. He did commentary on a variety of sporting tournaments including the 2009 Women's Cricket World Cup match between Australia v India in a Super Six Match held in Australia, the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 in England, the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa and among others. He has also worked as a bowling coach in cricket.
In 2010, Akram was appointed the bowling coach cum consultant of Kolkata Knight Riders, the Indian Premier League team for Kolkata. Sourav Ganguly was always keen to have Akram as the bowling coach for India, during the former's stint as Indian captain. Although this never happened, his dreams were realised to some extent, when Akram was appointed as the bowling coach for the franchise.
The memories of Wasim Akram charging down the pitch like a gladiator on a battlefield will remain for ages. Clean shaven, long hair combed back, gold chain swinging around the neck and the white shiny ball firmly gripped in his left hand. As he delivers the ball, it swings in mid air, the batsman is utterly helpless and places the bat but to no avail the ball strikes his right pad with dominating force.
As Wasim turns back and shouts an appeal, the entire Pakistani team and spectators join him and the umpire has no hesitation in lifting the finger. Wasim raises his arms and rejoices the moment with his team-mates. The spectators jump and scream and the commentator says one distinguishing phrase that was plumb!
Spectacular, impressive and captivating, these three words are close enough to personify Wasim Akram's career that was filled with the unplayable reverse and in-swinging Yorkers that ripped through batsman's defences like guided missiles and shattered the stumps upon contact.
He was married and has two children. On 25 October 2009, Akram's wife died, of multiple organ failure at Apollo Hospital in Chennai, India.