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Talent is diminishing when it comes to fast bowling: Shoaib Akhtar

"They are not quick," said Akhtar about the current Pakistani bowlers.

Shoaib Akhtar
Shoaib Akhtar of Pakistan. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

Former Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar believes that the current lot of fast bowlers in the world are just not quick enough to terrorize the batsmen. He feels that this is one of the reasons why the Test cricket is suffering. In his opinion, for the Test cricket to survive, the fast bowlers should bowl really quick to keep the batsmen at bay. Akhtar noted that the talent itself seems to be diminishing these days.

He recalled how the fast bowling used to be the forte of the Pakistani bowling lineup in the 1990s. The likes of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Shoaib Akhtar himself formed formidable forces in Test cricket. Now, he feels that only Dale Steyn and Mitchell Starc are the only ones who can clock serious speeds.

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“The talent is diminishing when it comes to fast bowling. You don’t see many fast bowlers coming in and bowling at 95 miles per hour to terrorise the batsmen. There are not many great fast bowlers these days. You only have Dale Steyn and Mitchell Starc now. Cricket lack those fearsome characters these days. You need those sort of fast bowlers to keep Test cricket alive. I think the bigger players in ICC need to do something about it,” quoted Shoaib Akhtar.

On current lot of Pakistani bowlers

Speaking about the current lot of the Pakistani bowlers in the world cricket, Shoaib Akhtar went on to quote that they are not quick enough. However, he hailed them quoting that they are still capable of running through any batting lineup on a given day. He cited the example of the Champions Trophy final when the Pakistani batsmen totally outplayed the Indian batting lineup.

“They are not quick. But they are good enough fast bowlers. Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees, (Usman Khan) Shinwari are not as quick, but they can run through opposition batting line-ups. Our bowlers put so much pressure on Indian batsmen in the Champions Trophy final and they just couldn’t cope with that. They are good fast bowlers who are creating that magic,” said the former cricketer as per the quotes in Khaleej Times.

On his Sharjah debut

Akhtar also recalled the time when he had first played at the flat dusty tracks of Sharjah. He reflected back at the time and mentioned that it was made clear to him that he needs to take wickets on the flat decks to be considered as a good bowler. He did exactly that and ended up winning the Player of the Series in that season of 1998.

“When I first came to play in Sharjah in 1998, they told me that they would consider me as a good fast bowler only if I could take wickets and win matches for Pakistan on dry wickets. And I went on to take lot of wickets, thanks to my reverse swing. I was named the man-of-the series and they gave me a beautiful car. I kept that car for the longest period of time,” said Shoaib Akhtar.

On Babar Azam

Shoaib Akhtar also had a few words reserved for the batsmen. He spoke about Babar Azam, the country’s leading batsman in the recent times. Azam has been prolific in limited overs cricket but has failed in Test cricket up until now. Trying to cite reasons for the same, Akhtar feels that the fields are spread out in the limited overs cricket and hence that makes it easier for Azam to score runs. In Test cricket, the field is often close in, and that creates pressure.

“He gets an open field in one-dayers. There are not many people standing in the circle. But he struggles when the field comes in the circle in Test cricket. He should get the art of Test cricket and play his natural game. If you are not able to find the gaps in Test cricket, then obviously there is some kind of problem in your technique. You need to score runs in Test cricket and play with people’s mind. Babar Azam needs to prove himself as a Test match batsman,” conceded Akhtar.

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