Dubai: The assembly line of talent which Pakistan cricket has thrown up over the years - especially in the pace bowling department - has never ceased to amaze followers of the game. Wasim Akram, the legendary allrounder from the country, summed up the phenomenon in an unique way by calling the nation the ‘Brazil of cricket.’
During a conversation with Dean Jones, the former Australian batsman and now a TV pundit, asked the Sultan of Swing about Pakistan’s secret of having a talent factory of cricket - and Akram came up with a gem.
“You’re (Pakistan) the talent factory. We in Australia always used to say that Pakistan have so much talent, it’s just the matter of how you harness it,” asked Jones, who has faced some of the mighty Pakistan teams on the pitch and had also been a coach of the Pakistan Super League team Islamabad United.
“Raw talent, it’s like Brazil of cricket,” Akram said in reply. For some, the reply may sound little presumptious given that cricket provides no comparison to the place Brazil themselves in the ‘beautiful game,’ football being the most popular sport in the world, it’s a smart analogy. The South American nation has produced an awesome heritage in football not only by winning the Fifa World Cup the maximum number of times (five) or producing greats, but they have been also one of the leading exporters of professional footballers and coaches in leagues around the world - including the UAE.
Pakistanis bring different techniques to international cricket, different attitudes fast bowlers like yourself (Wasim) and Waqar (Younis), Shoaib (Akhtar), and of course Abdul (Qadir) and Mushi (Mushtaq Ahmed) and all these great bowlers that are coming through even now
A famous quote from Ravi Shastri, currently the Indian team manager, also puts this quality into perspective: ‘‘Shake a tree in Pakistan and you will find a few fast bowlers falling from there.”
Jones noted the innovations that Pakistan players, particularly bowlers, have brought into cricket over the years.
“Pakistanis bring different techniques to international cricket, different attitudes fast bowlers like yourself (Wasim) and Waqar (Younis), Shoaib (Akhtar), and of course Abdul (Qadir) and Mushi (Mushtaq Ahmed) and all these great bowlers that are coming through even now,” he said.
Jones noted that while cricket was always big in the country, but the team’s dominance in the 1980’s and their victory in the 1992 World Cup were important catalysts.
“Cricket is in the DNA, it’s been great for a long time but really started to turn big time in the late 80s when Imran took over, when you rip England apart in front of a 100 thousand people at MCG (in 1992) was amazing,” he noted.