Dubai: Legendary pacer and former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has expressed concern at not being able to spot any emerging batsman in the third edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Speaking to Gulf News, Akram, who was at the Sharjah Stadium as brand ambassador for the 10PL tennis ball cricket tournament final, said: “If we notice, in the third PSL we haven’t seen even one emerging batsman. We have seen all-rounders and bowlers but not batsmen. It shows that we need to work on our first class structure. Hopefully after this PSL hype, we will have to invest some money into our first class system.”
What impressed Akram the most during the third PSL has been the standard of fielding. “The fielding standards have been unbelievably brilliant. The only worry for me is not seeing any emerging batsman. We saw bowlers like Shaheen Afridi of Lahore Qalandars, and if I have to pick one young player, it will be Islamabad United’s Hussain Talat, though it is his third year in the PSL,” said Akram, who was the Director of the PSL’s new team Multan Sultans.
When asked about the senior cricketers producing a good show in this PSL, especially those who had retired from international cricket, Akram said: “It showed that if you have the mindset and experience, you can perform in any format. People say that when you are over 40, you are over the hill. You have to plan everything and build your innings, especially on a Sharjah wicket which is hard and not easy to score against good bowling.”
Akram then went on to hail Kumar Sangakkara, who consistently performed for Multan Sultans despite being over forty. “Sangakkara was involved with the game, team meetings and his passion for the game is still high. He is a role model for youngsters and one of the modern greats of the game on and off the field.”
Talking about his experience in this IPL, Akram said: “It was a great experience because I was with the Islamabad team for two years and it was a well-oiled machine and have a good team as well. They have a very experienced captain (Misbah Ul Haq) and very passionate coach (Dean Jones) and with Waqar Younis (Team Director) as well.
“Multan started off really well this season but after winning three to four games, we ran out of steam. We had two to three areas that we were struggling and we did not have enough back up players. It was disappointing for me and the whole team. Any tournament is very important and especially for the owners, that too ours were first time owners. I was wary when we were winning because till we reached the play off there should not have been any rest for the wicket but unfortunately that did not happen. Next year we will better ourselves,” he said.
Akram is hoping cricket returns to Pakistan in a big way. “By staging more PSL matches in Pakistan and with West Indies coming next month for three T20s, everyone will understand that Pakistan is a normal place like any country in the world. There were problems but not anymore and cricket is our most loved sport. I am happy that the PSL III was well organised and congratulations to Najam Sethi and his team. The cricketing decisions and facilities were spot on.”
During the PSL, Akram attended a function in Dubai with legendary West Indies batsman Brian Lara. During the talk, Lara gave Akram a huge compliment by stating that Akram made him look stupid while facing his bowling in international matches. When asked about Lara’s comment, Akram said: “Lara has been too generous. He is the one of the best batsmen I have bowled to. People always ask me who is the best whether Lara or Sachin Tendulkar. If you see the records, Sachin is the greatest but Waqar and me never played against Sachin from 1989 till 1999.
“It was ten years of no Tests between the two countries but we played against Lara every second year as there would be a series in West Indies or in Pakistan. He played the reverse swing bowled at 140 to 150 kmph and scored hundreds against us. He was very difficult to bowl as anything short or a loose delivery he will hit you for a boundary. He was a different breed.”