Pakistan legend Wasim Akram feels that sports shouldn’t be a victim of politics and wished for the players of India and Pakistan to participate in the premier T20 leagues of their rivals. Due to political tension, Pakistan players have not participated in IPL since the tournament’s inaugural season.
Cricketing activities between India and Pakistan have largely been restricted to ICC tournaments and Asia Cups, due to intrinsic political tension between the countries, but that was not the case over a decade ago when the two countries - and subsequently the boards - were in good terms. The inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) saw a plethora of Pakistan players participate and, on top of that, the two countries also toured each other back and forth at regular intervals. Things, however, have not been the same since 2008, with the two countries’ last bilateral series having taken place seven years ago.
The off-field tension has denied fans the opportunity to witness the two heavyweights clash and one person who regrets the same is Wasim Akram. According to Akram, the ongoing stalemate is unfortunate and the 54-year-old wished for Indian and Pakistani players to partake in the PSL and IPL respectively.
“I have always believed that sports shouldn’t be a victim of politics but that is a government subject of both countries and it won’t be apt for me to say anything. But as you said in the question itself, yes IPL is one of the most competitive domestic leagues in the cricketing world and I wish Pakistan youngsters get to be a part of it and I also wish to see Indian players playing in PSL,” Akam told ANI.
After a tough 2019, the PCB handed the responsibility of taking the country’s cricket forward to young Babar Azam, who has been touted by many as Pakistan’s best cricketing talent of the 21st century. Due to the weight of runs scored by Azam, there have been unavoidable Virat Kohli comparisons, and while not delving into the ‘comparison’ debate, Akram hoped for the 26-year-old to take a leaf out of the Indian skipper’s book and instill consistency into his game.
“I wouldn’t like to make any comparison but having said that, I would like to add that Babar Azam is an exceptional talent, he has shown his excellence in all formats, but in patches. I would be very happy if he can see the comparison positively and becomes consistent in his performance like Kohli.”
Over the past decade and a half, Akram, ever since retiring from the game, has shown keen interest in coaching. A former bowling coach of the KKR franchise, the 54-year-old is currently the chairman and bowling coach of PSL franchise Karachi Kings. When asked if he would be willing to take up a full-time national role and work with the promising pacers in the country, Akram said that his services ‘are always available for Pakistan cricket.’
“My services are always available for Pakistan cricket. The current lot is an exciting bunch and I love spending some time with them, guiding them if they fall short in any aspect and this is routine, I have been involved with the players on many occasions in the past whenever they needed some guidance and advice. I also think that Pakistan cricket is in very capable hands at the moment and I wish them luck for their future, I am sure they will do a good job.”