Karachi: Little-known bowler Ahmad Jamal has vowed to make a name for himself after winning a nationwide “King of Speed” competition launched by cricket chiefs to unearth a new Pakistani quick.
Pakistan boast a proud history of pacemen including the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar and Jamal showed he has the pace to frighten batsmen with a fastest delivery of 143 kilometres (88 miles) an hour.
The 24-year-old, who hails from Abbottabad, made famous for being the city where Al Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden was killed by US forces in 2011, came out on top in the competition organised by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Jamal, who plays first-class cricket for Port Qasim, was delighted to scoop the one million rupee (Dh37,300) prize after the four-man final.
“I am thrilled and very happy,” Jamal said.
“My feet were on the ground before I won this and will remain on the ground after winning the prize as I want to make a name for myself.”
The PCB organised the hunt for fast bowlers after chief selector Iqbal Qasim raised concerns about poor quality in the pace department.
Jamal was picked from trials in Abbottabad earlier this month, one of a series in 10 cities to find a bowler with 145km speed. The other three finalists were Faisal Yasin, Abdul Hameed and Mohammad Imran.
The bowler acknowledged the infamy that bin Laden had brought on Abbottabad and Pakistan after he was shot dead in the garrison city on May 2, 2011. His wives later said they had been living there for five years. “I was in Karachi, playing cricket and was unaware of what happened, but it became the biggest news in the world,” he said.
Former Pakistan paceman Wasim Akram said Jamal, who is six feet four inches tall (1.93 metres), has the ability to thrive.
“I noticed him on the first day and he looks very talented,” Wasim said of Jamal. “I think with some hard work he can increase his pace and can become an asset for the country.”
Jamal said he was inspired to bowl fast by Shoaib Akhtar. “The desire was inspired by watching Shoaib,” Jamal remembered. “I want to achieve his speed and want to bowl as fast as he used to.”
The world's fastest deliveries
1. Shoaib Akhtar: Official world record holder for delivering the fastest ball with 161.3km/h against England in 2003.
2. Brett Lee: His fastest delivery was 160.8km/h in 2005 against New Zealand in Napier.
3. Shaun Tait: Fastest delivery of 160.7km/h against Pakistan in 2010 at Melbourne.
4. Jeff Thomspon: Fastest delivery of 160.4km/h against West Indies in Perth 1975.
5. Andy Roberts: Fastest delivery of 159.5km/h against Australia in 1975
- Compiled by K.R.Nayar, Chief Cricket Writer