'Dubai Cricket Stadium favourite in the world': Wasim Akram on quality cricket and grounds

The Pakistan cricket legend reveals why Test cricket is still so important for the game

by

Leslie Wilson Jr

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Pakistan cricket great Wasim Akram. — Twitter
Pakistan cricket great Wasim Akram. — Twitter

Published: Fri 9 Jun 2023, 12:38 AM

Last updated: Fri 9 Jun 2023, 9:22 PM

Former Pakistan cricket great Wasim Akram has emphasised the need for quality rather than quantity in the sport that has a billion-strong fan base thanks to the increasing popularity of the T20 format.

While acknowledging that T20 cricket is here to stay because it has all the right ingredients, Akram still believes that Test cricket has a more important role to play in the long-term future of the sport.


“Love it or hate it T20 is high-level entertainment,” the former Pakistan captain told Khaleej Times recently.

“It has more runs, bigger sixes, crazy shot making… you name it. It’s exciting, makes cricketers a lot of money and keeps the fans happy. But it comes at a price.


“To me it's quantity not quality. I still believe the quality has to be there as well and that’s why Test cricket is so important for the game and has got to stay,” he added.

“When we played, I’m talking about my era, we had players of the quality of Sachin (Tendulkar), (Sunil) Gavaskar, Brian Lara, Viv (Richards), Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Beefy (Ian Botham), Sir Richard Hadlee and Kapil Dev. It was a golden era. If you had to choose a World XI these guys will all be there. Unfortunately, you don’t have that level of talent in the world today.”

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Akram, widely regarded as the greatest left-arm fast bowler in history and currently a television cricket pundit, said that being successful in Test cricket was a true test of character.

“T20 and ODI serve a purpose because it’s a run-orientated format,” he said. “Fans love to watch batsmen hit sixes, which is fine, but Test cricket is all about aesthetics.”

Akram was of the opinion that the rules of T20 could do with some amendments.

“I’m all for technology that has helped improve the way cricket it players, but I would like to see a standardizing of boundary distance, it should be at least 70 metres,” he said. “Only then would it be a fair battle between bat and ball.

"Sixty-metre boundaries are not fun. Batsmen get a top edge and it flies over the boundary. That’s boring. For a commentator it’s not fun, for a coach it’s not fun and for the bowler it’s not fun.”

“That’s why my favourite ground for cricket in the world is the Dubai Cricket Stadium because it has something for the bowlers early and something for the batters who can get runs with proper cricketing shots. Countries should take a leaf out of Dubai and make cricketing grounds like this.”

Akram would also like to see the rules amended to allow two bouncers per over in T20 cricket.

“It will be a good test for the batsman and if he’s good he can innovate, play a pull shot or an upper cut. So, two bouncers will mean that bowlers have something to fall back on when things are not going their way,” he says.

“And by the way bouncers are fun, fun to bowl, fun to watch and fun to hit as well, provided you have the right technique. So why not have two per over.”

Akram also recalled when he was starting his career he would come up against some of the greatest cricketers in the world including Sir Viv Richards, the West Indian legend.

“Viv was the whole package. The way he talked, the way he walked out to the crease, without a helmet. He was phenomenal. I don’t think anybody can be like him he was the ultimate cricketer," he said.

“I was 19 at the time that I first played against Viv. I couldn’t sleep at night thinking what will happen when I bowl at this great batsman. Will he smash me all over the park, will he make me look small, but in way all those thoughts, those restless nights, motivated me as well,” he added.

“I drew inspiration from my mentors, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Mudassar Nazar who taught me how to never be afraid of the opposition no matter how great they were.

“I told myself I’m going to bowl bouncers at these guys and not be afraid of the consequences. I taught myself to be positive and have faith in my ability. That’s how my game evolved.”

That was a long time ago. Akram is now a contended 57-year-old who travels around the world offering his services as an expert commentator and cricket analyst.

“I’m at a point in my life where I am at peace,” he said. “I have a lovely wife, Shaniera, three kids, my eight-year-old daughter Alia, and my two sons, Akbar who is 22 and 25-year-old Tahmoor. My kids are happy, I’m happy.

“I’ve moved on I have learnt to forgive and forget. I could not be better at this point of time in my life. Thank God.”


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