Cricket is losing its character, Wasim Akram says

Akram, Warne, Dev and Botham take Dubai crowd down memory lane in anecdote-filled talk show

Image Credit: Courtesy: Organiser
An evening with icons of cricket organised by RAKBANK from left: Shane Warne, Kapil Dev, Wasim Akram and Ian Botham at the Cove Beach Club in Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
Gulf News

Dubai: It was a treat for a select crowd at the Cove Beach Club at Jumeirah Hotel on Tuesday as four cricketing icons — Shane Warne, Kapil Dev, Wasim Akram and Ian Botham — took them down memory lane during a talk show.

Questions ranged from their ‘most satisfying wicket’ and the ‘best batsmen they bowled against’ to their view on the present game and its changing trends.

All of them were unanimous that Test cricket is the ultimate form of the game and hence should be preserved.

Emphasising on the need for popularising Test cricket, Warne said: “Test cricket must be made strong. If we go after only after Twenty20 for money, then Test cricket will suffer. We talk about legends of the game in Tests, not in Twenty20. Great players of all time have come out of Test cricket. That is the real test of a player.”

Botham elaborated further: “Test cricket should be the flagship. It is called Test cricket because it tests every part of you — your mental [and] physical skills and stamina. There is a lot of testing.”

Warne then went on to add: “There is nothing like [Test cricket] in any other sport in the world which tests anyone for five days. Test cricket is the best form of the game because in Test only the best side will win whereas in [the] One-day game or [a] Twenty20 game, you may lose even if you are the best side. In [a] Test match always, only the best side will always win.

When asked about sledging, Akram revealed that there was more sledging in his playing days than now.

“We did more sledging than players [are] doing nowadays. Those days, there were no match refs at that time but now, we cannot even stare at the batsman. The result is there is no character [to] the game today; everything is too mechanical and it is not fun to watch.”

Kapil Dev then went on to narrate an incident where the legendary Sunil Gavaskar could not understand the sledging carried out by the Pakistan team in Punjabi.

“The best thing happened to Gavaskar is that he could not understand Punjabi, but I could understand whenever they were abusing him,” he said.

“Frankly, for the first few years against foreign teams, I could not understand English at all so when I went to Australia, I could not even reply. Then I went to Yorkshire and Geoff Boycott used to tell me pass me the ‘booter’, later I realised it was ‘butter’.”

Akram too narrated an incident where Warne was sledging Inzamam-Ul Haq.

“Warne was having a go at Inzamam — so I went up to Inzamam after half an hour and told him that he [Warne] was abusing [him verbally] and his reply was [that] he had no idea as to what {Warne] was saying, ‘so let him say what he wants’.”

When the icons were asked about their most satisfying wicket, Warne said: “For me, it’s always my first wicket — that of Ravi Shastri. I was being smashed all over and I got Shastri out who was batting with a double hundred [Sydney Test, 1992]. After that I took the wicket of Mike Gatting [known as ball of the century in 1993] and that delivery changed my life.”

Botham, who was present when Gatting was bowled by Warne, said: “Gatting was scratching his head for a long time. He never seen such a delivery. The ball pitched outside the leg stump and hit the off stump.”

For Akram, the best one was the Chennai Test wicket of Rahul Dravid.

“It pitched outside the leg and clipped his off stump,” he said.

Kapil refused to name any, saying: “When you have 400 kids [wickets] you cannot say this is my best kid. All wickets were special.”

The show was sponsored by RAKBANK.

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SPORT PICTURE OF THE DAY: July 19, 2017


Great Britain's Christopher Froome arrives on the podium to celebrate his overall leader yellow jersey at the end of the 165 km sixteenth stage of the 104th edition of the Tour de France cycling race between Le Puy-en-Velay and Romans-sur-Isere.

AFP