Pakistani Legend Wasim Akram wants this Indian star play county cricket!

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Jasprit Bumrah should play county cricket to become better bowler, claims Wasim Akram

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SportsCafe Desk

02/08/2018

Wasim Akram has advised Jasprit Bumrah, who has had an impressive start to his Test career, to play a month of county cricket every year to become a “better bowler”. While calling Bhuvneshwar Kumar India’s best bowler, he also suggested Mohammed Shami to change his run up to become more consistent.

Bumrah, whose rise to fame was his unusual slingy action, quickly became a limited overs expert for the Indian side. After consistently putting up match-winning performances, Bumrah was finally handed his first Test cap in South Africa and he repaid the faith with 14 wickets in just three matches. With a huge summer coming up for India, who will travel to England and Australia, Bumrah will have a huge task on his hands. 

Despite his impressive performances in South Africa, Michael Holding had questioned whether India could deliver in England because of his “hit-the-deck action”.  However, Akram, who has played a lot of cricket at Lancashire in his development days, claimed that the pacer would face no troubles in England provided he plays county cricket in the country.

"I agree with Mike that you can't hit the deck on English surfaces but that would only come with experience. Look the BCCI doesn't allow the Indian boys (main international stars) to play county cricket,” Akram said in St. Moritz, at the inaugural Ice Cricket Tournament, reported PTI

"If Bumrah plays at least a month of county every year, trust me, he will be a better bowler. But then Indian board has to tell Bumrah that forego a month's IPL and play county cricket.” 

Holding isn’t the only one who has raised questions about whether Bumrah can be a long-term fast bowler in the longest format of the game. The 24-year-old does not have a conventional “stock out-swinger” but Akram believes that it should not be a problem for the Indian.

"He has had a good start to his Test career after starting off as a T20 specialist. So it's a kind of change in mindset that is slowly happening for him. If people are talking about not having an outswinger, I won't be bothered much,” Akram added.

"But if Bumrah can learn how to straighten the ball after pitching coming from wide off the crease, more often than not, it will be his wicket-taking delivery. He just needs to use a bit of wrists for that.”

However, Bumrah isn’t the pacer who has impressed the Pakistan legend in the current crop of Indian pacers. Like many others, Akram was full of praise for India’s main threat with a new ball - Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The Indian pacer was the most impressive bowler in the recently concluded Test series against South Africa where he claimed six wickets in the opener in Cape Town before being controversially dropped for the second one in Centurion. However, the pacer made a comeback in the final Test where he performed with both balls (4 wickets) and bat (63 runs) to help India secure a victory.

"Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been the most impressive pacer in South Africa as far as my assessment goes. He was getting the ball to swing both ways. And with increased pace now, he has become all the more effective," Akram remarked.

"This Indian pace attack has potential to do well in England. They were very impressive in South Africa with the kookaburra which is a difficult ball to bowl with, so Dukes which does a lot after pitching, will be easier for them."

However, the “Sultan of Swing” left his best advice for Mohammed Shami, who has shown glimpses of brilliance at times but has eventually fallen short of fulfilling the expectations of a cricket crazy country. Akram said that the pacer needed to work on his run-up, that he pinpointed as the biggest flaw in his game, to perform at the highest level. 

"Shami is a good bowler but sometimes I feel he is a bit laidback. As a fast bowler, irrespective of the match situation, he should just sprint in and try to hurry the batsmen, who have a front foot trigger movement,” Akram explained.

"During his run-up, Shami, at times, tends to take small strides before his final load up to the crease. Now when he is in rhythm, his strides are correct and equally measured but the moment he gets a bit wayward, his strides get smaller. It should always be the opposite. When the length of the stride decreases, a person's bowling action doesn't get completed. The force that is generated from the back goes missing and one loses out on a lot of pace.”

But Akram’s suggestion isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Shami has faced a lot of problems with knee injuries, which has hampered his growth as a regular in the Indian side. However, Akram cited the example of former teammate Shoaib Akhtar that Shami should look at going forward.

"That will be an issue with Shami. If you look at Shoaib Akhtar, he struggled with a dodgy knee. I suppose he has to work on the lower body muscles,” Akram said.

"He (Shami) is a strong lad and has played a fair amount of international cricket to know how he should be working on his body, so he can play for India for at least 10 years.”

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