Pakistan’s fast bowling production line was at its most potent in the 90s with one speedster followed by another, each equipped with a bustling run, reverse-swinging yorkers and the surprise bouncer. The supply seemed endless and most in the national cricket circles took it for granted.

There was a brief lull before the emergence of Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, and together with Umar Gul, it seemed like the trio were set to carry the mantle for sometime. England 2010 brought an abrupt end to those hopes and even though the now-injured Gul has made a sustained attack in the last five years, the other prospects have come and gone.

The situation after Pakistan’s tour of South Africa was such that it prompted chief selector Iqbal Qasim to declare that ‘Pakistan were facing a fast-bowling crisis’. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) also sprang into action and with the Champions Trophy around the corner, it set up a 10-day fast bowlers’ camp at the National Stadium, Karachi, under the supervision of one of the greats of the game the former captain Wasim Akram.

Leading fast bowlers from different parts of the country honed their skills at the camp, these include the tallest cricketer ever Mohammad Irfan, the left-arm pacers Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz and all-rounders Sohail Tanvir and Hammad Azam.

One of the trainees at the camp was Karachi’s fast bowling all-rounder Anwar Ali, the right-arm pacer found his place in the national team for the Indian tour last December, however, did not feature in any match there, since than he has been rather inexplicably side-lined and also failed to win a berth in the Champions Trophy squad.

Despite the setbacks, Anwar remains confident of breaking into the national team soon and he feels that working with Akram has helped develop his skills further.

“The camp has been tremendous experience for all of us; I had a great time too and learnt things that I had no idea about despite playing first-class cricket regularly for the last five years.”

Anwar is renowned for his booming inswingers and his performance in the 2006 U19 World Cup final against India propelled him into the limelight. The ‘banana inswing’ sent the Indians packing and one felt that there was another fast bowling prodigy ready to shine on the world stage.

Unfortunately though, things haven’t been that rosy for Anwar since 2006 and he had to wait for two years to make an international appearance.

It was in 2008 when he played his only international to date, a T20 against Zimbabwe in Canada. His youthful exuberance worked against him and Anwar was more like a deer caught in the headlights in the instant form of the game.

Five years down the line, Anwar has become a steady first-class performer, notching up a tally of 275 wickets in 75 matches with no less than 17 five-wicket hauls in his career. However, he averages less than four wickets per match which is an indication that Anwar has had some extremely good and some equally ordinary days in the longer format of the game.

At the camp, though, Anwar rubbed shoulders with the best fast bowling talent in the country and feels there has been an improvement in his game already.

“I approached Wasim bhai for some tips on bowling outswingers, my strength over the years has remained my booming inswing but Wasim bhai was keen on helping me develop an outswinger too. He has taught me a new grip, I have been using that grip since the camp started and have been working on it since.”

Anwar was also proud of the blisters that the new grip has given his index and middle fingers.

“The blisters are there since these parts of my fingers were never used in gripping the ball, however, with time, the pain will ease off and of course a potent outswinger is set to bring rich hauls of wickets Inshallah.”

Anwar also received batting tips from Akram who himself scored three Test hundreds including a monumental unbeaten innings of 257 against Zimbabwe in 1996.

“Wasim Bhai told me that it is of extreme importance to occupy the crease for long durations, he asked me to play with a straight bat and treat the bowling on its merit.”

The 25-year-old right-hander has one first-class century under his belt and is keen on improving this aspect of the game too. He realizes that there is a real need for a genuine all-rounder in the national team and if he improves his batting his chances of winning a berth increase manifold.

Meanwhile, Wasim himself had good words to say for Anwar at the end of the camp and identified him as a talented prospect who needs to be given confidence.

“Anwar is a talented kid, his strength was his inswing but he has lost it due to some substandard coaching. I taught him a new grip and now he is making the ball swing away like a banana. Besides his bowling he is a great fielder and a handy batsman, all in all a great athlete who has a bright future.”

The hope is that Anwar’s bright future is utilized and not wasted by inconsistent selection, he has already lost out on five years since making his international debut and if the trend continues for a year or two more, the talented bowler may not set alight cricketing fields ala 'that spell’ against the Indian teenagers seven years ago.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (31)

zaffar (Sweden)
May 2, 2013 8:51 pm
Don´t blame the provinces.They have talent.PCB is to be blamed.Bcci has brought in so many young players,while PCB is still relying on lame horses
Muhammad Shahzad
May 1, 2013 7:03 pm
i think he better perform on this champions trophy
iqbal Hadi Zaidi
May 3, 2013 4:43 am
How ironical it is that in sports too Urdu speaking is ignored which is very much obvious so far as government is concerned. How many Urdu speaking became President (My Bhaijan Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf took over at his own) and Prime Minister in the country, may I ask? We must shun such like trend to ignore Urdu speaking mohajirs and instead must patronize the talent whosoever one may be. We should treat everyone as Pakistani instead of Mohajir, Punjabi, Sindhi etc if we wish to progress. Iqbal Hadi Zaidi (Urdu speaking) / Kuwait / iqbalhadizaidi.formerdiplomat@hotmail.com
Abdul Haq
May 2, 2013 3:29 pm
Whatever the story is, Pakistan is not making an impression at this last Champions Trophy. Result is a knocked out of first round with only 1 win.
M Sajid
May 2, 2013 7:57 am
Does he have any connection(s) in the hight up of PCB or selection committee? Imran Farhat and Shoaib Malik are the live example for retaining their place in the national squad irrespective of the performance.
Dawar
May 2, 2013 3:09 pm
PCB should from Lahore. They are short sighted and sees things only in Lahore or nearby. This is not a first time talent of Karachi has been wasted. For any young bowler best time to bow is 19 to 25 years old. Anwar Ali passed already. Now PCB will give him chance when he will be 28 years old. He will be in tremendous pressure because many people ask PCB to include him in the team but they forget he passed his time, he will not perform well as before. We are losing Shazeb hasan , Khalid Latif, Khurrum Manzorr. Fawad Alam is another example, he was played with the team for a while and performed well but he was always treated badly by selection committee and captains. He scored excellent century in his test debut on the fast track of sri lanka but after the series he is out. He has good averages in all types of format, excellent fielder. Khurrum Manzoor scored 70 runs in his last test match against Australia in Australia but he is out after that. Khalid Latif was a highest scorer in his last one day series against New Zeeland but after the one day series his out from Pakistan team. On other hand PCB is giving nonstop chances to Kamran Akaml, Shoaib Malik, Ahmad Shezad, when they drop they will bring Umar Akmal, Nasir Jamshaed, Umar Amin, Imran Farhat etc. Bottom line everyone from Punjab, specially Lahore.
hassan
May 2, 2013 8:57 am
Thats what afridi said in the past, PCB is a racist.!
Hamid Awan
May 2, 2013 10:27 am
You cry foul for no reason. Blaming Punjab for everything does not make sense to me.
arshad
May 2, 2013 7:00 am
" sanu karachi the bhayya naeen chaeeda"".....is the PCB's attitude towards the sheer talent of karachi ! shame ! indeed ! there are such biases in the board and in the team as well and rightly so indicated by Qamar Ahmed in the last sunday's sports editorial quoting Misbah ul Haq being biased on ethinic issues ! its a very sad approach ! shameful indeed ! kamran akmal still in the team so tht sarfraz dos nt get a place,is one example,the second shoaib malik seems so freindly with misbah ! still there without performing ! shame , shame shame shame ! Miandad has also been known for this surprising biased treatment to karachi born or residing players/talent despite being from karachi himself ! unfortunately he only knows faisal iqbal from karachi! BELIEVE ME OR NOT >>>>>THIS IS TRUE !
arshad
May 2, 2013 6:49 am
aah i c anwar ali hails from karachi !this is the only reason tht he cant find a place in the national despite bowling bananas against india and propelling pakistan's victory against india ! to find a place in the national squad one has to bfrom punjaaaaaaaab anf from punjaaaaaab ,he has to b from lahore ! believe it or not this is 100% true ! ANWAR ALI would b wasted very soon and he would perhaps be given a chance after two years when his speed and skills would b diminishing ! naturally if he sets in ,whab riaz ,cheema ,and all such cases of punjaab would find their way out ! how canPCB tolerate that !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Imran A.
May 1, 2013 3:26 pm
I saw those banana swingers on youtube; Absolutely amazing! I am surprised to see how sub-standard coaching can destroy careers.
Mark
May 2, 2013 5:55 am
If you want to play for Pakistan? move to Punjab,they will take you even when you are Old and Blind
nhkali
May 2, 2013 5:41 am
The cryptic question is, "where does he hail from?" He will come into the lime light 'if' and 'when' a Sindh Cricket Board is ESTABLISHED. Junaid Khan is good but Wahab Riaz is erratic. Salams
kashif
May 2, 2013 5:27 am
All is well with you dear Anwar......the only problem you have is that, you are from Karachi....Good Luck
Oz
May 1, 2013 3:51 pm
I think he deserved a chance over Wahab Riaz or taken as a sub reinformcement. What a shame that his talent was not utilized in India - where he could have delivered under conditions similar to home grounds.
hakim
May 1, 2013 7:54 pm
hope to see some of the banana inswingers in action some time in future at the international level.
jamil
May 2, 2013 4:27 am
Anwer u rock. all the best.
IFTIKHAR KHAN
May 2, 2013 4:19 am
the banana swing bowler Anwar Ali was not selected in national team because our selectors are bunch of bananas.
Room For Everyone
May 1, 2013 7:57 pm
I met Anwar Ali when he played against Zimbabwe in the King City near Toronto. He was a humble yet determined person. I have seen his bowling against India in the final of the Under 19 World Cup of 2006. His bowling was phenomenal. He is far better then the likes of Wahab Riaz and especially the talentless Rahat Ali or Tanvir Ahmed. He should've already been in the team especially after Aamir and Asif's departure.
Bakka
May 1, 2013 8:02 pm
Pakistani mindset is reactive rather than proactive.
Khan Baba
May 2, 2013 3:42 am
“Wasim Bhai told me that it is of extreme importance to occupy the crease for long durations, he asked me to play with a straight bat and treat the bowling on its merit.” How unfortunate - Wasim Akram learnt this after his career was over. Otherwise he would have scored a lot more centuries than three he did and would have scored more than six thousand runs in test cricket and God knows ho many more in the ODI's. People would have compared him with the Great Garry Sobers - I am sure. Sorry Wasim but this is the fact. I have watched most of your matches live or recorded and can never forget those outlandish off drives getting stupmed or getting caught in the deep. It still hurts. But your bowling was GEM.
Faisal Ali
May 2, 2013 3:29 am
This kid could have helped Pakistan, but as of now he is bing played with and not given the chance to help himself and his country. We the citizens need to be vocal and raise these question such as how can a kid who almost single handedly destroyed the other teams moral can not be gromed and at least give a consistant chance? This can not and must not be!
vaqas
May 2, 2013 12:51 am
It is amazing how the watchful eyes of cricket board pick the most untalented ones. Are they afraid of winning matches.
Adil
May 2, 2013 12:13 am
You would never see it again with so many cameras. It was ball tampering brother.
fus
May 1, 2013 4:18 pm
A potential gone wasted. Just shows the poor quality of our PCB management actually. Same story for many good U15/U17 players who are ignored, probably since they dont have a good "push".
Thoughtful
May 1, 2013 9:54 pm
His chances of getting into Pakistan Cricket team is very slim because he is from Karachi and Pakistan cricket team is selected based on ethnicity.
SJ
May 3, 2013 1:14 pm
The issue is fairness. In our country, people with less talent get to the top since they have relations/contacts while the more talented ones don't. It is a misery and is shameful. But this is what the state-of-affairs is at present. Consequently look at the sub-standard results and hence the relegation on the international level. We need to be fair in all walks of life and not just sports for the nation to come out of this chaos and re-emerge as a vibrant nation on the global platform.
Shadab(India)
May 1, 2013 6:08 pm
well done wasim for helping anwar ali... want you in pak team for all format with banana swing
skeptic
May 1, 2013 5:23 pm
very timely and well written article.
Aqil Siddiqi
May 1, 2013 5:05 pm
All my prayers are with him. Come on Anwar, make us all proud of you. Show this world, that Pakistan is a factory of Fast Bowling.
concerned212
May 1, 2013 5:02 pm
Good luck Anwar Ali.
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