Akram: 'Sri Lanka has pace, needs swing'

Wasim Akram, who's been roped in as Sri Lanka's mentor ahead of its tour of South Africa, spent several hours with the national team’s established strike bowlers.

wasim akram

Wasim Akram (left) in discussion with Sri Lankan seamer Kasun Rajitha.   -  AFP

Wasim Akram said that Sri Lanka had a promising crop of fast bowlers despite its traditional reliance on spin after holding a coaching session with the islanders today.

Akram, who's been roped in as Sri Lanka's mentor ahead of its tour of South Africa, spent several hours with the national team’s established strike bowlers. He said there was no lack of raw pace but they needed to develop their ability to swing the ball.

"Most of the bowlers had a pace of 130 to 140 kmph," said Akram who himself bowled at a similar pace in his prime in the 1990s.

Akram, who is now 50, said slower wickets were a fact of life in South Asia, particularly in Sri Lanka whose most successful bowlers have been spinners, including the record-breaking Muttiah Muralitharan.

But he said there was no reason why fast bowlers could not thrive on slower tracks as long as they had the right tricks up the sleeve.

"The idea is to teach them how to believe in themselves and how to fox out the batsmen," he said after a coaching session at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) grounds in Colombo.

Akram was joined by Sri Lankan legends Aravinda de Silva and Chaminda Vaas, both of whom had played against the Pakistan swing king.

Vaas, a former seamer, was recently tasked with identifying fast bowling talent across the cricket-mad island.

Sri Lanka Cricket chief Thilanga Sumathipala said they invited Akram to mentor local players in the next two years and visit the island at least twice a year.

"We have invited him to be with us in the next two years as our consultant in pace bowling," said Sumathipala.

Sri Lanka, who has just completed a clean sweep of Zimbabwe, is to embark on a tour of South Africa later this month where it will play three Tests, three T20 matches and five ODIs.