the-south-asian.com August 2004
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WAQAR DOES A WASIM
Remember his lethal yorkers---the toe crushers that he hurled like missiles which destroyed many a cricketing reputation? Pakistani speedster Waqar Younis has replaced his green uniform with a stylish shirt and tie to match as he begins a new innings as an ESPN-Star commentator. He says it’s an honour to be in the team of all-time greats like Sir Geoffery Boycott, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Wasim Akram.
Excerpts from an exclusive interview…As you start your new career, do you feel a sense of pressure?
Not really. But there’s certainly an element of excitement. Even after playing for fifteen long years I am clueless as to how this particular pitch is going to behave. But I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Have you decided on a strategy as to how you are going to perform in the box?
Look, commentating is a different world altogether. I would be required to comment on what is going on the field judging the game by my playing experience. I’ll be speaking my mind out openly and sharing my thoughts with cricket fans around the world. As far as I am concerned I’ll make the best effort to entertain viewers.
What made you join ESPN-Star Sports?
The channel offers the best in sports and has an excellent team comprising cricketing legends like Sir Geoffrey, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, and my former colleague Wasim Akram. To be a part of such a great team is an honour. Moreover the concept of Hindi programming appealed to me and I think it is going to bring a paradigm shift in cricket broadcasting in the sub continent.
The Wasim-Waqar combination is still rated amongst the best fast bowling combinations. What magic should the viewers expect from the commentary box?
Bowling alongside Wasim was a great experience. We always had a very healthy competition amongst ourselves and that was beneficial for the team. I am looking forward to the same and can assure you that you will see nothing less from us this time too. We’ll try and make the game come alive as much as possible.
You also have someone like television stand-up comic Shekar Suman, with no experience of the game, in the team. What do you say of him?
When you have pacers you need someone to spin a yarn as well! But jokes aside, Shekhar has a huge following both in India and Pakistan and to have someone like him in the team is a big USP. His skills will definitely add that extra dimension to the commentary.
In the upcoming Asia Cup which team you would put your money on?
Undoubtedly India! At the moment Indians are in their peak form. This is the best batting line up in the world that can give any team a run for its money—even Australia. I feel India has a great chance of winning.
What about Indian bowlers?
Recently some good fast bowlers have emerged but I still won’t call them world class. They are talented but have a long way to go and have yet to prove themselves. They certainly bowl well but they have to mature to be called world class fast bowlers.
What do you say of Bob Woolmer’s appointment as the new coach of Pakistan team? Going by PCB’s reputation of sacking coaches, do you think he stands a chance?
He has the reputation of changing the fortunes of a team. Look what he did to South Africa, I hope he is able to do the same to the Pakistan team. I agree the PCB frequently changes coaches, but I hope Bob has done his homework and signed a legal contract for a stipulated time.
Would you like to comment on Pakistan’s pace attack and the controversy surrounding Shoaib Akhtar?
Well, at the moment Pakistan is a young inexperienced side that is struggling to establish a foothold. With Wasim and me leaving the side within a short time frame there is certainly a vacuum. With Sohaib, Sami and Shabbir we still have a decent attack. I won’t like to comment on Shoaib, as that is a matter for him and the board to resolve.
What is your secret of success?
Play hard and be disciplined. Just follow that and leave the rest as that will follow itself.
What are your future plans?
Right now I am focussed on my new role of a commentator and there isn’t anything else on my mind. But in the future I might opt for a career in coaching.
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