Akram impressed with Indian pace talents

Akram, who is working as the Bowling Variation and Strategy Coach at the Gatorade Centre for Pace Excellence (GCPE) here, said he would be happy to see some of the youngsters playing at the highest level of the game.

"I am quite impressed with the guys. I think, this is a very talented lot and very hard working as well. Its nice to work on them. Even some of the bowlers are already prepared to play the first class cricket in the country," Akram said.

Talking to PTI on the sideline of the training session, Akram said that his main objective would be to help the young pacers learn the nuances of the art of fast bowling including proper basic skills.

"I would like to advice the young boys to first make their basics solid and then go for the finer details of fast bowling. My objective is to make them understand how to fox the batsman out in different situations in a match," the lanky pacer explained.

"For a fast bowler, pace of delivery, his action as well as the body position play very important roles in one's success. These are which make a good fast bowler," added Akram, who has 414 dismissals from 104 Test matches under his belt.

The pace bowling academy, which has picked its first batch of eight youngsters through a nation wide talent hunt, has also roped in former India pacer T A Sekar as the head coach and eminent sports fitness expert Ramji Srinivasan as the chief fitness advisor.

"This initiative is very special to us because not only does it provide the best training to the budding players but also inculcate a sense of sports science in them at a young age, which I think is crucial if one has to deliver his best performance over a long period," said Sandeep Walunj of PepsiCo India, who is the main person behind the initiative.

"Earlier we used to send the bowlers to the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai. But since they have a number of limitations, from this year we have started our own academy.
"We have shortlisted eight players out of 6,780 applicants from across India and now training them on every possible aspect of fast bowling," added Walunj, who is personally supervising the camp.

The initiative has started producing the desired results as Vikas Tokas, national winner in the Gatorade Pacers 2009 contest, has already been selected to represent Railways in the Ranji Trophy and also landed a permanent job with the Indian Railways.

Besides, Tokas, who is son of a bus driver in Delhi, this academy has also handed a dream-come-true opportunity to many others like Abdul Baseer of Hyderabad, Sukhvir Singh of Mohali or Thane's Shardul Thakur, who hails from a farmer family.

But will Akram also share with his students the secret of reverse swing which during his playing days made him one of the fearsome name in the world cricket?
Asked, the former left-arm bowler smiled, "The boys are very inquisitive about the art of fast bowling. They keep asking various questions, including reverse swing. If basic things are right, reverse swing will also come with time."
However, Akram, who is part of the 20-day training camp at a city school ground, does not feel the short camp will suffice to make the bowlers of highest grade and adviced the cricketers to continue with the hardwork even after the camp gets over.

"I will visit the camp in November again and that time will assess the improvement of the players. Let them play for their teams or train in their own for that time," the 43-year-old signs off.

Former Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram giving tips to youngsters at a training camp in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI
 Former Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram giving tips to youngsters at a training camp in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

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