When Wasim met Wasim: Pakistan legend passes on wisdom to UAE hopeful and namesake

Aspiring bowler fulfils a dream by meeting the man his father named him after

Wasim Akram Jr, left, with the legendary pacer and former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram. Photo: ILT20
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In Pakistan’s Swat Valley in the late 1990s, a father was so besotted by the great Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram that he named his son after him.

He hoped it might foster a love of cricket just like his own in his son. Maybe he would grow up to be a fast bowler, too.

It would be pushing his luck for him to be a left-arm quick of dextrous skill. And for his son to one day meet his great hero, at a cricket stadium in Dubai, while potentially on his way to an international career of his own? That all seems a bit far-fetched.

And yet that is exactly what has come to pass, with the cycle completed two weeks ago.

Wasim Akram Jr has been plying his trade in UAE domestic cricket for the past couple of years, after moving from Pakistan due to financial issues back at home.

He caught the eye at the DP World International League T20 Development tournament at the end of last year when he took six wickets in one game, bowling unerring left-arm swing.

He did not land a contract to play in the main event, but he is on the radar of the UAE national team, and the tournament’s organisers fixed it for him to meet the man he is named after.

Having been called to Dubai International Stadium to tell his story, the organisers surprised him by introducing him to the man after whom he takes his name.

“It was excellent meeting the great Wasim Akram,” the younger of the two Wasims said. “I was surprised and amazed. It was one of my dreams to meet him, and I felt a big honour.

“He welcomed me and complimented me on my bowling skills. He told me that he watched my bowling clips and told me to show him some more footage of my bowling.

“He gave me some valuable tips about his bowling skills. He told me that this is only the beginning, but he will spend more time with me in the net sessions.

“My father is happy to know, and he watched my video. He appreciated it.”

Wasim Jr acknowledged he had little choice in who to take for a role model in cricket, although he says his style is as much natural as learnt.

I am impressed by Wasim’s talent; in fact, I saw his six-wicket spell on the internet and immediately noticed his pace and accuracy.
Wasim Akram Sr

“I started watching cricket on TV with my father and family at around eight years of age,” he said. “Most of the time, I would go with my father to watch tennis tape-ball cricket at the Kumra River bank. On the sidelines, sometimes I played with my friends there also.

“When I was playing tennis tape ball in 2008 in my school then one of my seniors told me that I have bowling skills like Wasim Akram.

“But at that time I didn’t know and later on I searched on the internet and watched all the available clips of him bowling.”

He says he was inspired by the World Cup-winning former fast bowler’s will to win, which he tries to copy when he plays.

“My father has a passion for cricket, and he was a big fan of the great Wasim Akram,” he said. “He named me after him, and he was hoping for me to be a good cricketer.

“This is my natural action and bowling style. But, of course, I learnt a lot by watching Wasim Akram bowling and leading his side with the spirit to win games. I like his dominant approach in the bowling attack, which I try to practise.”

Wasim Sr was full of encouragement for the younger man after seeing footage of him bowling in UAE cricket.

“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,” the former Pakistan captain said.

“I wish him the very best and, if possible, on this tour, I will spend some time with him in the nets as well.”

Wasim Jr arrived in the UAE in March 2022 to take up a role playing domestic cricket.

“I left Pakistan because I didn’t have enough resources to bear the expenses of living in big cities and playing cricket without a job,” he said. “I have an Alif Pharma [a domestic A Division club] contract to play as a professional cricketer.”

He will become eligible to represent the UAE on the ICC’s three-year residency criteria next year, and he is hopeful he will be selected.

“I am working hard for this, my morale is up, I am improving my skills day by day and looking ahead to play for the UAE national team,” he said

“It would be a great honour for me to represent UAE cricket in all formats all around the world.”

Updated: February 14, 2024, 11:47 AM