Dubai: Legendary left-arm pacer Wasim Akram, who is the director of the Islamabad United team that will play in the inaugural Pakistan Super League (PSL), feels that the league will boost the confidence of the new generation of Pakistan cricketers.
Akram, as the bowling coach of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL), is familiar with this kind of tournament and has been inspiring youngsters through his presence and tips in India and Pakistan. In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, he spoke about his role and about the league.
“The role as a director is not a different one. I have been associated with KKR since 2010 and it’s a role which I actually enjoy. I have a very professional team in Islamabad United with Dean Jones as the coach. We also have a good bunch of boys. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq is an easygoing captain. We have some very good youngsters who are eager to learn and I think PSL, apart from bringing financial benefit to the players, will give so much confidence to a young generation of upcoming Pakistan cricketers.”
Akram feels that the Pakistan players being in the dressing room with the legendary cricketers will give them a big boost. “Playing with the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Shane Watson and being in the same dressing room will benefit them. They will pick a lot of good things from them and that is what Pakistan cricket and youngsters were lacking. Since there was no international cricket in Pakistan this will give the youngsters the confidence as they will eventually be representing the country.”
When asked whether PSL is a concept that can succeed, Akram said: “It is a great concept but there will be some teething problems early on like any other tournament in the world. Once it kicks off everything will fall in place. What we need is the lovers of cricket in Dubai and Sharjah to come and support it and accept is as their own tournament.”
The most exciting factor for Akram is the timing of the league. “The timing of the IPL is perfect with Asia Cup and Twenty20 World Cup set to begin. So 20 days of high octane entertainment cricket is the perfect preparation for the players.”
To a query whether PSL will also give a huge boost to Pakistan’s domestic cricket, he said: “After this first edition, every young player will be wanting to be in next year’s draft or auction. Through IPL we have seen youngsters getting picked for the Indian team and probably the same wil happen if you perform here, they can also make it to the Pakistan team.”
So what according to Akram is needed for PSL to be a success? “First of all we need a good crowd and obviously good competitive cricket which will surely happen. We need to also play clean cricket. IPL is a massive entertainer but PSL is just starting. It is now a little baby but the intentions are very clear by the PSL and by the players. They all want to succeed and you can succeed only if you play tough and entertaining cricket.”
Speaking about his team, Akram said: “We have the two best all-rounders in the T20 format in Shane Watson and Andre Russell and so eight overs will be taken care of by them. Andre can bat at four or five and Watson is one of the top openers in the world and he just got a century. Our captain Misbah is very experienced and from the bowling point of view we have the experience of Mohammad Sami and young promising left-arm pacer Rumman Raees, who has been getting lot of wickets. We also have the one of the best spinners in T20 cricket in Samuel Badree - and Saeed Anwar. English player Sam Billings is also there and so we have a good bunch of youth and experience.”