LONDON, June 20: Wasim Akram may or may not return home to Pakistan with the
rest of his side after their Lord's *** in the World Cup final. A
triumphant return to Islamabad and a rousing reception with Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif had been planned. It is now likely to be replaced by a more
Wasim, who had been desperate to emulate his mentor Imran Khan by lifting
the World Cup, is unlikely to relish the flight home.
After Pakistan were knocked out of the 1996 World Cup by arch-rivals India,
Wasim's father was ***ped by angry fans, his effigy was set ablaze and
his house stoned.
Wasim, who earlier in the tournament hinted he might hang up his boots soon,
already has enough off-pitch problems without having to deal with the fans'
He and several other top players are the subject of a long-running judicial
inquiry into match-fixing. The report is expected to be published soon, with
life bans a possibility if anybody is found guilty.
A quiet summer here may be Wasim's best option.
He was replaced as English county Lancashire's overseas signing by Sri
Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan this season after declaring himself
unavailable. Now, with time on his hands, he will confine himself to the
anonymity of club cricket in the English Midlands.
Sunday's disaster could not have been a greater contrast to the 1992 World
Then, Pakistan had won the trophy after beating England by 22 runs at
Imran held the cup aloft that day. Wasim stood by his side with the
Man-of-the-Match award after belting 33 runs off 19 balls and taking three
wickets for 49.
At Lord's, he scored one six off Shane Warne but, attempting a repeat when
batting out the remaining overs seemed far more important than quick runs,
he was dismissed for eight after facing 20 balls.
In Australia's reply, he was hit for 41 off eight overs. He took one wicket
but did not even smile.
Wasim's has been a tumultuous career. He first became Pakistan's captain in
1992 but was removed by a players' revolt.
He was back in charge in 1995 but stripped of the captaincy at the start of
last year following the match-fixing allegations.
He announced his retirement in September, saying he wanted to clear his
name, but, with the inquiry still going on, he was back in the team by
October and, five months ago, he was re-instated as captain.
Odd to think that one of the world's greatest all-rounders, with more than
350 wickets in Test cricket and in one-dayers to his name, could end his
days in the backwaters.
Next Saturday, Wasim, his international future in the balance, will turn out
for Smethwick, a village on the edge of Birmingham.-AFP