KARACHI: Pakistan pace great Wasim Akram Tuesday promised to help groom a future generation of speedsters as his country looks to recapture former fast bowling glories.
Wasim was part of a long line of world-class Pakistani fast bowlers that began with Fazal Mahmood in the 1950s and featured the likes of Imran Khan, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar.
But pace stocks have dwindled in recent years and Pakistan currently have no fast bowlers among the top 10 in either Test or one-day rankings.
Chief selector Iqbal Qasim last week expressed disappointment over the lack quality fast bowlers, a concern which Wasim hopes to help address by holding a two-week camp in April to unearth new talent.
Wasim, who is regarded as the best left-arm fast bowler ever to play at international level with 414 Test and 502 one-day wickets, said Pakistan need to improve their bench strength to excel in the long form of the game.
“I am sure talent is there but there is no plan B,” he said. “We don't have good bowlers for Tests which was proved in the series against South Africa where we lacked in that department.”
Pakistan were white-washed by world number one South Africa 3-0 last month in their recently concluded Test series. The hosts also hold a 2-1 lead in the ongoing five match one-day series.
Wasim added Pakistan's inability to make use of home-advantage, which allows players to excel, was a key factor holding back the development of youngsters.
“Not playing at home is the key factor in not producing quality players.Until and unless you don't play top quality teams at home it will be hard to find quality players,” he said.
Pakistan have not hosted top-level international cricket since terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009, an event which prompted foreign teams to shun tours to the country over security fears.
Wasim said it was time for cricket authorities to take concerns over fast-bowling more seriously.
“The PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) needs to lift the first-class cricket and find some quality fast bowlers. Once I get 10-12 fast bowlers, I will work on them and they can be groomed to play at international level,” said Wasim.
The PCB is also trying to rope in Waqar Younis, with whom Wasim formed a fearsome partnership during the 1990s, for their national cricket academy in Lahore, built to groom young players.
With the emergence of Twenty20 cricket, the shortest form of the game, teams around the world have experimented with different bowling line-ups for each format. But Wasim said when it comes to pace bowling, one size should fit all.
“It's hard to find separate fast bowlers for three formats. I believe if a fast bowler is good enough for Tests, then he must be good for all formats and sustain himself for the limited over matches as well.”