With Wasim Akram and Sachin Tendulkar gone, will cricket die?

Published: December 8, 2013
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We miss the good old superstars such as Wasim Akram and Sachin Tendulkar. Photo: Reuters

Fast bowling, for me, died the day Wasim Akram retired from cricket. Batting has just recently passed away along with the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar. Cricket obviously moves on but for people belonging to my generation, Tendulkar was the last of an era of classical cricket. An era that saw some of the greats of the game compete at a level of competence and technique, which may never be equalled by modern day players.

Today, when the game has become increasingly easy for all that are related to it, be it the UDRS (Umpire Decision Review System), enhanced coaching and training facilities or the computerised research and analysis facilities used to better techniques of cricketers, the level of the game has somewhat come down.

To set a target of above 300 runs and then witness it being chased down with overs and wickets to spare have become a norm that is a testament of my statement above. Of course it can very well be perceived the other way round as well but in my opinion, there should always be an equal contest between bat and ball which is something that is missing in modern day cricket.

Rules have changed a lot over the last 10 years and so have the opportunities to make more runs and take more wickets. Cricket is being played in more countries and in more formats than ever before. Careers have been shortened and quality compromised due to the excess amount of games going around at all times.

I remember the time when we used to argue about who is better, Rashid Latif or Moin Khan. A single collection not made well behind the stumps by either of them was criticised very heavily and considered a justification for the dropped one to be part of the side again. Wicket keepers like Adam Gilchrist and Mark Boucher were literal examples of the idiom ‘safe as a house’ behind the stumps. Today unfortunately, I do not find a single wicket keeper who I can call a ‘natural’ in the art. Most of the ones operating today are either part timers, selected in the side because of their batting skills more than wicket keeping or holding on to the position just because there’s nobody else waiting in the wings to challenge them for the designation.

Sachin Tendulkar, inarguably the best batsman to have ever graced the cricketing field was criticised throughout his career for not being able to finish or win matches for his side in crunch times. Batsmen like Steve Waugh, Brian Lara, Inzamamul HaqRicky PontingSaeed Anwar, Mathew Hayden, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Muhammad Yousuf, Gary Kirsten, Stephen Fleming and many more ruled the pitches and that too in the presence of quality bowling against them. Each batsman knew his role specifically in each format of the game and was considered a specialist at that. All of the mentioned batsmen have had both good and bad days but each one of them had evolved for the better through his experiences and came out as a champion.

I still remember the days when even at the fall of a few early wickets for Pakistan, we never panicked the way we do now because in those days we knew that the great Inzi will sort things out in the middle along with Mohammad Yousuf at the other end, and almost control the run rate at will when at the crease.

T20 cricket has had a very bad impact on the temperament of the modern day batsmen and all they seem to care about is to manage a 100 plus strike rate, even if that means getting out on eight from just four balls.

As far as bowling is concerned, fast bowling was actually ‘fast’ when bowlers like Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Alan Donald, Shane Bond and Brett Lee literally steamed in to bowl with speeds constantly around the 100 mph mark. No matter how good a batsman you were, you had to face chin music one day or the other with a roaring short pitch ball coming straight at you. Sadly, there are no steam boats in the ocean of fast bowling operating these days.

Then there was another league of pace bowlers who were literally artists and masters of their trade. Bowlers like Wasim Akram, Glenn McGrath, Courteny Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Chaminda Vaas, and Shaun Pollock could do almost anything at all with a cricket ball in their hands. It wasn’t only entertaining watching these legends bowl, it was also educational.

There are no more artists in the modern game of cricket. There’s no single bowler in the world that you can compare with the great Wasim Akram or Glenn McGrath. Pace bowlers of today depend on pitch and weather conditions more than their bowling skills which is quite evident when you look at their records.

Legend Glenn McGrath leaves cricket as Best fast Bowler. Photo: AFP

Similarly, magicians, also known as, spinners cast their spells in an amazing fashion on all cricketing spectators. The school of spin bowling was blessed with teachers like Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, Saqlain Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmed and various others. Creativity was at its peak and unlike today, there were instances where a spinner could win matches for his side single-handedly. The above mentioned bowlers share a total of 4,146 wickets between them in all forms of the game. Apart from Saeed Ajmal in modern day cricket, there are no more spinners worthy of being called ‘magicians’.

Saeed Ajmal, the ‘doosra’ Saqlain Mushtaq of Pakistan Cricket. Photo: AFP

Modern day cricket has its own set of superstars like the MS DhoniVirat KohliDale Steyn and Kevin Pietersen and some of them may even be considered role models for the youth of the present generation. However, for me at least, the classic era of the gentlemen’s game is now over.

hammad.mateen

Hammad Mateen

The author is a mechanical engineer, education management professional and freelance writer working in the social sector, he tweets as @hammadmateen (twitter.com/hammadmateen)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Noman Ansari

    If cricket didn’t die with the retirement of Sobers, Viv Richards, Imran Khan, Miandad, Ambrose, Walsh, Warne, Waqar, it will survive. Chill. :)Recommend

  • J T

    Saeed Ajmal is a blatant chucker as evidenced in the picture in the above article. He hardly ever bowls a legal delivery.Recommend

  • AYL

    Have some sense man. Do not you see what Johnson is doing in Ashes? or you are telling me Steyn is inferior to Wasim or Waqar?Recommend

  • The Guy from U.S

    To be able to succeed in Cricket players need to have mental, technical and physical capabilities; Waseem Akram and Sachin Tendulkar had all aforementioned capabilities. Do you agree?Recommend

  • Reaper

    No not really. I think you might see cricket become a global sport due to t20, ofcourse you might never see the quality that our generation stood witness toRecommend

  • Pappu

    Not dead yet but definitely cricket is on death bed right now just like bollywood.Recommend

  • Nabil Khan

    of course, he is inferior to those greats… Steyn still has a lot to prove to match the quality of Wasim & Waqar. They played consistent cricket for more than 15 years. You just can’t compare a bowler on his recent records. Its simply like comparing Kohli and Sachin.Recommend

  • Nabil Khan

    T20 cricket has caused a lot of damage to cricket. With the leagues all around the world, players are more interested in making money these days and ICC’s role in this regard is very disappointing. With the retirements of great players, cricket will not die obviously, but the quality will suffer a lot. Its simply like, “decrease the quantity, increase the quality”. BTW, thanks for the videos =pRecommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Jealousy isn’t good for the soul. The ICC spends countless to make sure everyone is in line. Thanks for outwitting the experts.Recommend

  • S.F.Ali

    relating class bowling only to Wasim is not fair, it would be a great mistake not to include Waqar in it. But there is big list of bowlers who made bowling an art. And, at present Steyn is continuing their legacy.Recommend

  • Asim

    I think glamour is the biggest threat in today’s cricket, that why we are not expecting legends in current era. Furthermore I am agree with Nabil Khan opinion the T20 and glamours Indian cricket league and other leagues are damaged to cricket.Recommend

  • AYL

    @nabil_khan:disqus : Please update the meaning of “recent”. Wasim Akram has 414 Test Wickets, Waqar Younis 373 and the Steyn “the Kid” has 340 Test wickets….In addition, he has taken those wickets at a better average and strike rate than both W’s. He probably needs 4 or 5 matches to pass Waqar and Wasim is not far…may be a year or two. That does not mean the W’s are not legends. THEY ARE. So is steyn, the point was if Wasim has retired, a bowler of equal or better quality is still playing.Recommend

  • Lalit

    your both assumptions are wrong,neither Cricket(with ever increasing popularity and revenue generation) nor Bollywood(churning out movies which earn close to INR 2.5 bn in just a fortnight of their release) are on a deathbed.on the contrary they seem to be more hale and hearty than earlier…Recommend

  • Pappu

    Cricket doesn’t have players, Bollywood doesn’t have actors.Recommend

  • osama

    buddy nobody has a better strike rate than waqar for those who have above 200 test wickets. it’s pretty much well-known. check ur facts…Recommend

  • Mrinal Saikia

    Nine writing. All the entities have a strong skill in the game of cricket. God bless them!Recommend

  • AYL

    Dear Osama,

    Spare a moment & have a look at it:

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/93276.html

    This is exactly the reason that he is accepted as a Legend playing among us.

    Issue with us is that we do not bother and rely on “pretty much well known things” & then we have the audacity to instruct others to “check ur facts” before doing our homework. This is what troubles us,

    RegardsRecommend

  • Zuhair

    Lame article. The guy knows little. The cricket did not die after sobers, Botham, Lillie, Imran, Lara, Warne. how could it die after wasim? Talk some sense mateRecommend

  • Mustafa Hanif

    True. Kholi, Raina, Clarke are batting legends of today. Tsobe is an amazing bowler. So is Anwar Ali.Recommend

  • rasgullah

    Cricket is dead in Pakistan as no country wants to visit for a match. In the rest ot the world, cricket is actually doing good. Recommend

  • Waqas

    I think some people havent understood the article. The point which author tries to proof is that in there were more legends than this era. He hasnt said that Steyn isinferior to Wasim,Waqar or Shoaib. But the point is in that era there were much better quality crickteres with very limited facilities. If DRS was availale that time Wasim,Waqar,Murli & Warne has lots more wickets.Recommend

  • Waqas

    My friend dont comapre on the basis of 1 series only. Look at Johnson’s previous records as well.Recommend

  • Lalit

    or may be less wickets as the sword called technology cuts both ways….Recommend