What’s the story?
Speaking on Howie Games podcast, Sri Lankan batting great Kumar Sangakkara has revealed Pakistan’s Wasim Akram as the most difficult bowler he faced in his career which saw him play 594 International matches. Apart from Akram, Sangakkara also rated Aussie spin maestro Shane Warne, England offie Graeme Swann and Indian pacer Zaheer Khan among the toughest he had faced.
He also quipped that he was lucky not to have faced his teammate in the Sri Lankan team, Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas in International cricket.
"I think I've faced Wasim Akram only a few times (but he was) immensely difficult. It's strange you know, when you pick your bowlers or the people think, if you take Akram on the Test wicket tally, he's nowhere near the top. He's 12th, but you ask any batsman around the world and his name always comes up.
“He was an absolute genius. I've never faced Murali, luckily, in international cricket, or Chaminda Vaas. Shane Warne, incredibly difficult. I've had problems with Zaheer Khan. Graeme Swann. These bowlers have been very, very difficult," he said.
In case you didn’t know...
Ever since making his International debut in 2000, Sangakkara scored over 12000 runs in both Tests and ODIs at an average of 57.14 and 42 respectively. He announced his retirement from International cricket after the second Test against India at the P Sara Oval in Kandy in 2015.
After his International retirement, he is still actively involved in league cricket all over the world and is playing for Surrey (English county), Dhaka Dynamites (Bangladesh Premier League), Hobart Hurricanes (Big Bash League), Quetta Gladiators (Pakistan Super League) and Gemini Arabians in the MCL.
The heart of the matter
Sangakkara was dismissed by Wasim Akram thrice in the nine matches (all ODIs) they played against each other. Sangakkara averages just 11.75 in the matches in which he faced Wasim, a number that is too low when compared to his career average of 42.
Interestingly, India’s Zaheer Khan has dismissed the former Sri Lankan skipper on 11 occasions (five in ODIs and six in Tests) while Graeme Swann and Shane Warne have accounted for his wicket on six and four occasions respectively.
In the same podcast, Sangakkara also named West Indian legends Sir Viv Richards and Brian Lara as the best batsmen he has ever watched.
Parallels from history
This is not the first time a world-class batsman has mentioned Wasim Akram as the toughest bowler to have played. In his retirement speech in 2012, VVS Laxman has pointed out the Pakistani pacer as the most difficult bowler he faced in his illustrious career and his thoughts were echoed by West Indian great Brian Lara and former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin as they also confessed that he found it difficult to get going against Akram.
Wasim Akram is one of the greatest fast bowlers to have graced the game. He troubled a lot of batsmen including the best in the business and is regarded as the toughest bowler to face by many including the stalwarts like Lara, Laxman, Azhar etc.