Former Pakistan cricketer says the sports transformed his life.
Legendary Pakistan paceman Wasim Akram marked his 50th birthday on Friday, saying life is “exemplary” and that his Australian wife told him the half-century “is the new 40.”
Regarded as one of the best left-arm pacemen ever to grace the game, Akram—who celebrated with family and friends—said cricket had brought him great fame, adding: “1.5 billion people across the subcontinent and beyond love me.”
“My wife told me 50 is the new 40,” he told AFP. “So it’s enjoyable.”
Akram, popularly dubbed the “sultan of swing,” lives in Karachi with his second wife, Shaniera, and is a renowned cricket expert on various television channels.
He said cricket had transformed his life. “Cricket is a great leveler. It transformed my life from an ordinary boy to one who is loved in Pakistan and India by over 1.5 billion people and it’s incredible.”
In a storied career of 104 Tests between 1984 and 2003, Akram took 414 wickets and 502 in 356 one-day internationals—both still a Pakistan record. He is also is the only person to have registered twin hat-tricks in both Tests and one-day internationals. He was player of the tournament with 18 wickets when Pakistan won their only World Cup title in Australia in 1992.
Akram said he never imagined achieving star status when he took up the game. “It is a life in which dreams turned into reality. I never imagined this fame and success when I started my career and to have played so much and captained your team winning the World Cup is more than I had dreamed. Each day of my cricketing life and even now has been exemplary. I am what I am because of my fans across the world.”
But the game’s future generation must work hard, he said. “There are no short cuts to success,” said Wasim, also a bowling coach for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League. “I tell every player, in Pakistan or India, that you have to work hard and only that can help you show your skills at the highest level. This is true for every field of life.”
Akram said he has no regrets in life. “People do make a lot of mistakes and I too have made some, but I have no regrets in life and no complaints, my name is in cricket history books and will remain there and that’s a great pride for me.”