The legend of Wasim Akram

Sultan of Swing

Wasim Akram was unquestionably the greatest conjurer among pacers, he elevated bowling prowess to an unrivalled level. Simply put, he pushed the boundaries of bowling and turned it into an art. There were bowlers who were faster, more accurate, more controlled, explosive, more determined, or more typically correct, but none who could match Wasim’s originality or brilliance. He merely served as the game’s equivalent of a Beethoven or Rembrandt. Wasim’s 11-160 in Melbourne in 1989–1990, which incorporated every component of fast bowling skill—be it pace, movement, or accuracy—was the most artistic bowling cricket fans had ever witnessed.

People have never come across a bowler who could bowl so many different kinds of balls in a single over. Making you think of how every chapter of a book would have a different plot. There has never been a better swinging yorker or reverse swing exponent. He was more of a perfectionist in his entirety than any other pace bowler, encompassing all qualities such as speed control, motion, and variations. Few pacemen bowled the slower ball more cleverly or concealed the ball’s direction of travel than the Sultan of Swing did. Wasim only expanded on the biomechanics of bowling.

Wasim Akram in action in 1999 World Cup

Numbers don’t do justice to Wasim Akram’s talent and skill

Wasim’s statistics did not adequately reflect the extraordinary talent he possessed. His greatest bowling numbers of 7–119 fell short of those of Curtly Ambrose, Richard Hadlee, Malcolm Marshall, or Imran Khan. Imran Khan actually took 8 wickets on two separate occasions and 7 on three others. Marshall, Alan Donald, Waqar Younus, and McGrath had a superior strike rate, while Ambrose and Hadlee had a better bowling average. Hadlee also had more 5 and 10-wicket hauls. Additionally, Ambrose and McGrath had a higher percentage of victories and more spells that ended games.

  • “Cricket is a team sport, but everything goes back to the rivalry of batter and bowler, and in Wasim Akram every batter had a wonderful rival - when you play against someone of that calibre, it lifts your game as well, and the experience stays with you forever. Wasim was a master. He made the ball talk,” Tendulkar wrote in Akram's book.

However, it is unforgettable how Wasim came so close to winning a test by himself at Antigua in 2000, when questionable umpiring calls may have cost his side a historic triumph. He could practically take the flesh off of the best batting lineups on his own by cutting them into slices. By combining speed, bounce, and movement to put his opponents in no man’s land and make them feel as though a spell had been cast over them, he appeared more lethal than any paceman at the Oval in 1992.

Statistics, however, do not necessarily provide an accurate picture. With his absolute command of the reverse swing, Wasim was more exceptional than any bowling great in the previous three decades on flat subcontinental pitches.

Wasim is hailed as a legend of the game

The bowling of Wasim Akram presented the greatest challenge to the greatest batsmen of all time, including Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis, Kumar Sangakkara, and VVS Laxman. Alec Stewart regarded him second best to Marshall, with Alan Donald ranking him as the most complete of all pace bowlers. Wasim’s team did not provide nearly as much field support for him as it did for McGrath or Lillee. Wasim’s batters frequently let him down despite being a part of a particularly effective bowling attack, in contrast to Glen McGrath, who had complete backing.

Hadlee’s statistics were comparatively strong for bowling against a weaker pace attack, while Waqar Younus frequently tore apart the winnings of the best opponents despite being supported. Wasim seemed to pose the larger threat to the batsmen and to the game, even if he did not have a strike rate as high as Waqar. Even if others had more victories, Wasim would still confound the finest batsmen more than anyone. Curtly Ambrose, Hadlee, or Imran may have destroyed lineups more frequently. But then again, Wasim’s skill was what would most often cause a batting collapse, even if he did not end up claiming enough scalps.

Wasim Akram: A force to reckon with

Wasim was statistically the top fast bowler in terms of average throughout his prime, from 1990 to 1998. In the face of stronger competition from Walsh, Ambrose, Donald, and Ambrose on level courses, he overshadowed teammate Waqar. Wasim, unlike Imran, bowled at a time when Pakistan had neutral umpires, making him the only bowler to capture four wickets in five deliveries twice. When bouncer limitations and protective equipment were implemented, he continued to be a threat. With 25 five-wicket hauls and a strike rate of 53.6, 414 wickets in tests at a remarkable 23.62 are impressive.

Wasim Akram was MOM of 1992 WC final

He had a phenomenal 502 scalps in ODIs. Marshall and Ambrose were more impressive in that regard than Akram, who had a lower average but a higher percentage of wickets in wins than Hadlee or Imran. It is interesting to note that Imran did not lead Pakistan to victory like Wasim did in the West Indies in 1993 or as captain in 1999. He did not bowl as many outstanding stints as Denis Lillee or Curtly Ambrose.

Wasim Akram ecstatic after picking a wicket in Test

However, It is significant that Wasim Akram was chosen for the Cricinfo All-Time XI and that 53 cricketers included Wasim in their all-time test XIs. Geoff Armstrong’s list of the top 100 cricketers places him third among only fast bowlers, ahead of legends like McGrath, Ambrose, and Lindwall and only behind Marshall and Lillee.

When it comes to specialized pacemen, David Gower places Wasim behind only Marshall, Lillee, and Roberts (including Imran and Hadlee as all-rounders). Gower places Wasim at number 27 among cricketers overall, ahead of players like Ponting, Border, Chappell, and McGrath, among others. Wasim would finish slightly ahead of Kallis and Lara in the top 15 all-time cricket players, as a whole.

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