Wasim Akram was one of those rare talents, who never played first-class cricket, before making his international debut. In fact, he could not even get into the college team. Born in a Punjabi Arain family in Lahore, Wasim Akram’s magical moment came when he participated in the trials conducted at the Gaddafi Stadium. Interestingly, he was a mere spectator for the first two days and finally, got a chance to roll his arms over on the third day.
Straightaway, he impressed Pakistan’s senior cricket Javed Miandad, who then pressed for Akram’s inclusion immediately into the national team. That was the opening the legend needed. From a bloke who was not even part of competitive cricket, Akram went on to become ‘The King of Swing.’ In fact, shockingly, Akram himself admitted that he did not know how to swing the ball during his early days.
On November 23, 1984, Akram made his international debut in the second ODI against New Zealand at Faisalabad. Soon after, he made his Test debut against the same opposition at Auckland and in just his second Test appearance for Pakistan, he bagged a fifer each in both innings and grabbed eyeballs. He was a regular member of the side in the late 1980s, until an injury forced him to stay away.
Post multiple surgeries, Akram returned to the international circuit and the emphasis was on mastering the art of swing bowling. He played a crucial role in Pakistan’s success at the 1992 World Cup, while he also led them to the final, seven years later. Alongside Waqar Younis, Akram formed a fearsome bowling partnership and at a stage, the duo were literally unplayable.
Akram scaled mountains quite easily with loads of wickets and even hat-tricks. The fact that he would go through the defences of many batsmen at will spoke volumes of his ability to trouble the batsman, both off the pitch and with movement in the air. During the 2003 World Cup, Akram became the first man on the planet to record 500 wickets in the 50-over format. Eventually, he finished his career as Pakistan’s top wicket-taker in both Tests and ODIs. He was also the leading wicket-taker in ODIs, with 502 wickets, until Muttiah Muralitharan overtook him to push him to the second spot.
As a 35-year-old, Akram announced his retirement from ODIs, after the 2003 World Cup. Akram had earlier quit Test cricket in 2002. He was a key figure in England’s domestic circuit, having represented Lancashire and later Hampshire. Impressed by his show, fans would even sing \”Wasim for England,\” when he was in action for Lancashire.
Post retirement, much like many former cricketers, Akram decided to voice his opinion on the game and became a prominent commentator. He is also the current coach of Indian Premier League (IPL) side Kolkata Knight Riders since 2010 and helped them to be crowned champions in 2012 and 2014