Cricket followers will see Pakistan fast bowler Mohammed Asif in a new avatar this month with news that the 35-year-old right-arm pacer will participate in a tennis ball cricket tournament in the UAE.
Asif tested the best batsmen in the world at the highest level before his fall from grace following the 2010 Lord’s Test spot-fixing scandal.
Asif was banned from the game for five years for his part in the scandal that also involved Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir. While Amir is back in the senior team, Asif and Butt await their chance.
Asif has returned to domestic cricket in Pakistan and Asif was on Saturday unveiled as a ‘key player’ in the second edition of 10PL which will be held from March 19-23 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Asif will turn out for Shehenshah Warriors, part of 16 teams that will participate in the tournament.
Asif who has played 23 Tests, 38 ODIs and 11 T20s for Pakistan, is hoping to make an impact in the 10-over tournament.
“I have played this form of cricket a lot on the streets of Pakistan. Almost all of us have learned a lot by playing this brand of cricket. I am hoping to pass on my experience to the rest of the squad and along the way, gain a lot myself. I cannot wait to get back on the field at the Sharjah Stadium,’’ said Asif.
In the first edition of 10PL, former Pakistan wicket-keeper batsman Zulqarnain Haider tried his hand at professional tennis cricket.
This year apart from Asif, other international players like Sri Lanka’s Thilan Thushara and Chamara Silva are also likely to feature in the tournament. From India, a number of players who have played domestic Ranji Trophy are listed in squads, alongside former Rajasthan Royals paceman Kamran Khan.
The tournament is the brainchild of UAE-based Petromann Events. The tournament boasts the highest prize money for tennis ball cricket anywhere in the world at Dh250,000.
Pakistan legend Wasim Akram has seen it all in his life. He rose to prominence at the 1992 World Cup where he picked up 18 wickets – the most in the tournament – that clinched the only 50-over World Cup for his country.
Akram took three wickets in the final against England and went on to become the greatest left-arm bowler in the history of the game. However, for all that hard work, the Pakistan icon said he received just $1,800 out of a prize money of $40,000. If you adjust for inflation, the overall prize money would be worth around $72,000 (Dh264,000) in 2018.
To put things in perspective, Akram is the brand ambassador of the 10PL tennis cricket tournament that will be held in the UAE from March 19-23. The total prize money for it is Dh250,000 which is around $68,000. That’s the prize money for a tennis cricket tournament.
Moving on to bigger tournaments, the prize money for the 2015 World Cup was $10 million with winners Australia pocketing close to $4 million (Dh14.6m). Even this year’s Under-19 World Cup champions India got a sizeable amount as winning bonus from the Indian board. Each member of the Indian U-19 World Cup winning team received a bonus of rupees three million (Dh170,000).
No doubt there is a lot more money in cricket now than in the previous century but even so, the difference becomes staggering when you look at actual numbers.
However, Akram said he is happy that cricketers are getting just rewards for their efforts.
“It is quite staggering. But I am happy for the present cricketers. What they are getting now is their luck. What I received was my luck. But I am not a guy who gets jealous. I am someone who gets happy that professionals are getting proper money,” Akram told Sport360 during the launch of the second edition of the 10PL 2018.
A viral video of a young Pakistani boy bowling some terrific deliveries with a smooth action has been doing the rounds of social media on Wednesday.
The video, posted by Twitter user Faizan Ramzan, shows the young kid bowl some accurate in-swingers and out-swingers in a setting which can be described as the yard of a normal village house in Pakistan.
Faizan posted the video in the early hours of Wednesday with a caption saying: “I just received this video and don’t know about this brilliant kid, want to know your thoughts about this terrific bowling.” He had tagged the Twitter accounts of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi and Rameez Raja.
I just recieved this video and don’t know about this brilliant kid, want to know your thoughts abt this terrific bowling. @wasimakramlive @shoaib100mph @iramizraja @SAfridiOfficial pic.twitter.com/8JPRQNHlfj
— Faizan Ramzan (@faizanramzank) February 27, 2018
The tweet has since garnered more than 4,500 likes and nearly 1,500 retweets within a short span as hundreds of Pakistan cricket fans seemed to be smitten by the kid’s pedigree at such a young age.
Wasim Akram, one of the all-time leading exponents of swing, has now responded to the video posted by Faizan.
“Where is this boy??? We have serious talent flowing through the veins of our nation and no platform for these kids to be discovered. It’s time we do something about it,” he wrote on Twitter.
Where is this boy??? We have serious talent flowing through the veins of our nation and no platform for these kids to be discovered. It’s time we do something about it #TheFutureOfCricketIsWithOurYouth https://t.co/ybzd5ASeTx
— Wasim Akram (@wasimakramlive) February 28, 2018
Pakistan has a long history of producing some great pacers through their ranks, none greater than Akram himself. Others to emerge from the renowned fast-bowlers’ factory that is Pakistan are Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar.
The kid’s bowling action bears a huge resemblance to that of Mohammad Amir, the current flag-bearer of the Pakistan pace battery.
With a smooth action like that and such unnerving accuracy, the young boy seems destined for a big future if he can get access to the right facilities and training. We sure hope Wasim Akram can locate him so that one potential fast-bowling pearl does not go to waste.