Playing cricket at the highest level, and rubbing shoulders with the legends of the game is one of the dreams for aspiring cricketers. What then becomes the icing on the cake is, when one of their heroes drops in for a quick chat, unannounced.
Part of the UAE cricket system and looking to make a splash in international cricket, Wasim Akram Junior is one of the few lucky cricketers to have not only met his idol, the legendary Pakistan pacer and former captain Wasim Akram, who is in the UAE for the DP World ILT20 Season 2 as part of the commentary panel, but Akram Junior was also fortunate to receive some very valuable advice.
The 28-year-old was named after the legend by his father and was understandably over the moon to meet the man whose bowling videos he grew up watching. “This is the first time I have met him. It was so great to meet the legend Wasim Akram, I have been following him and his bowling for many years so that I can learn and become a good bowler. By God’s grace, I have met him now, and I will try my best to emulate him in whatever way I can,” Wasim Junior said, after absorbing a moment that he will cherish forever.
The young man, who was caught unaware when his hero walked into the Dubai International Stadium room where Wasim Junior was present for an interview, further added, “My father is a very big fan of Wasim Akram Sir and when I was born, he named me after him. And as I grew up, I also started to look up to him, and took after him, bowling left-arm pace and batting as a left-hander too.”
Soft-spoken and hard-working, the youngster made people sit up and take notice recently in the ILT20 Development Tournament 2023, where he bowled a brilliant spell, claiming 6/21 for the ILT20 Thunderbolts. For Wasim Junior, it is the legend’s out-swinger that fascinates him the most.
“If I could learn any skill from him [Wasim Akram], then it would have to be the out-swinger, because there are no words to describe how well he executed the out-swinger. If I can add that trick to my armoury, it would be a boost to me as a bowler. And hopefully, if I can learn it well, and produce good performances, the fans and the audiences might be reminded of the legend’s exploits,” he explained.
Once the ice was broken and the pleasantries out of the way, the conversation between the Wasims’ quickly flowed to the technical areas, wherein the 1992 World Cup winner was quick to praise the youngster, and followed it up with a word of advice, and also a promise to further help him out during a training session at the nets.
Wasim Akram – widely acclaimed as one of the legends of the game – spoke highly of the left-armer named after him; he thinks he has a bright future ahead of him. “I am impressed by Wasim’s talent; in fact, I saw his six-wicket spell [ILT20 Development Tournament 2023] on the internet and immediately noticed his pace and accuracy, I wish him the very best and if possible, on this tour, I will spend some time with him in the nets as well.”
For Wasim Junior the 10-minute interaction was the realisation of a long-cherished dream. “To meet Wasim Akram was always a dream, and this opportunity has come to me now, here in UAE, and I will grab it with both hands. I will try to learn as much as I can from him. Even 10 minutes spent with him is equivalent to a decade for me, because I can learn a lot in that small amount of time, and further work on it, and that will eventually be very beneficial for me as cricketer,” he said. “If I can play and achieve even a fraction of what Wasim Sir has done, even if it is 10 or 20%, I will consider it to be a big thing for me.”
The young pacer, who can bat a bit and use the long handle to good effect, played three games in the ILT20 Development 2023, bagging eight wickets. The southpaw touched upon the ongoing DP World ILT20 Season 2 noting that it is a very important platform for UAE cricketers. “The DP World ILT20 is a very big tournament for the cricketers from UAE because I believe it gives us a big chance to prove ourselves.”