DUBAI // Wasim Akram has offered his services to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) free of charge in order to help the national team recover from their latest malaise. It is unlikely that Wasim will reprise his highly-profitable partnership with Waqar Younis, Pakistan's latest head coach, on a full-time basis, however.
Since retiring from playing Wasim, the fast-bowling great, has forged a strong media portfolio, and he admits he would not be able to commit fully to Pakistan in the near future. "I have told the cricket board I am available free of cost," said Wasim, who also serves as a bowling consultant to the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, yesterday. "Whenever they have a camp they can call me, and if I am in Pakistan I will be there to help the bowlers and help the captain.
"I am always available. In terms of taking a post for a regular job, I am too busy for that, but they can call me and I will be there whenever they want me there." Waqar, who used to open the bowling with Wasim, was handed the coaching reins of the troubled national team in March. He was tasked with sifting through the wreckage of the previous regime, when the Pakistan dressing room was at breaking point.
After a woeful tour of Australia, the PCB inflicted severe penalties on their senior players, most notably the indefinite bans on Younus Khan and Mohammed Yousuf, the former captains. It did not take long for the bans to be rescinded, yet, amid the fall out, Yousuf officially retired from the game. However, he is now pondering a comeback, which could even culminate in a recall to the side for a series against South Africa on these shores starting in October.
"I plan to play domestic cricket this season but right now international cricket is not on my mind," Yousuf was quoted as saying by Pakistani media this week."If I do return I will target the series against South Africa later this year in the UAE." Wasim revealed that he has counselled Yousuf to return, and he thinks Pakistan cricket should be thankful that he appears to be heeding his advice. "I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and told him to just play cricket, and not to worry about what the board are doing to you," Wasim said."He can keep playing for a couple of years, average 50-plus, then when he retires they will call him one of the best of all time.
"I think he realised I was right, and that he has to get back to playing his cricket. Just because he falls out with some cricket board official, it does not mean he should ruin his own career. "He will probably make a comeback, and the sooner the better for Pakistan cricket in my opinion - both him and Younus [Khan]." Wasim will also return to the playing field when he turns out in the first Dubai Super Sixes corporate tournament, which begins at the end of September.
More than 48 companies from the Emirates will play off at Dubai Sports City, with the eight quarter-finalists all set to be allocated a former international player to join their ranks. * Compiled by Paul Radley, with agencies