Like he was the king of Swing on the cricket field, the best-ever seamer in cricket history Wasim Akram showed his kingliness in words and sentiments off the field as well when coming online at The Hindu Lit For Life session on Saturday morning.
During a conversation with N. Ram, director of The Hindu group, Mr. Akram, along with journalist Gideon Haigh, who collaborated with him to write his official and unusual autobiography Sultan of Swing, the legendary fast bowler recalled memories of the famous Test match between India and Pakistan at Chennai in 1999, when he took the catch of a top-edge ball of Sachin Tendulkar and Pakistan won the match.
What he fondly remembered was the standing ovation he received from the crowd in Chennai. “Winning in India is a massive deal; Indians love and understand sports,” he said, and revealed how he told off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq to take a risk and give a bit of air to his ‘doosra’ as Sachin was reading him well and perhaps would hit over mid-wicket. It paid off as Akram was the only fielder at mid-wicket and took the catch!
Mr. Akram remembered another incident when he landed in the city while flying to Singapore as the aircraft stopped for refuelling. His wife, Shaniera, was unconscious and the airport staff, security, customs, and immigration officials came together and rushed her to the hospital even though the couple did not have visas. They helped to sort out the issue; As a cricketer and a human being, I will never forget the love people of Chennai showed,” he said to a round of applause.
Mr. Ram described the memoir “Sultan of Swing’ as an honest and convincing book. And how remarkably he dealt with three difficult issues of ball tampering, match-fixing, and drugs. Mr. Akram said, “it is tough to talk about personal life and battles, tragedies and triumphs. But truth is convincing and my mindset to motivate even one person helped me.”
Mr. Haigh said he had to capture the mood and the sense of Akram’s presence 20 years after his retirement. “Akram is very reflective and sensitive and always engaged with a sense of context and detachment.” Mr.Haigh spoke of Javed Miandad and Imran Khan’s influence on Wasim Akram and mentioned that cricketers and other individuals whom he approached were enthusiastic and prompt in paying tribute to Akram’s explosive pace and charismatic style of playing.
“Attrition is higher among Pakistani celebrities but Wasim Akram is a great survivor. He didn’t need a cricketing background to come out triumphant, and that is what is inspiring and uplifting about the book,” he said.
Mr.Akram also talked about the need for social media at The Hindu Lit For Life to build a positive image and how he has always been in awe of Imran Khan both on and off field.
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