Pakistani speedsters are renowned for their ability to reverse the ball a lot more prominently than bowlers from other countries. It began with the likes of former captain Imran Khan, with Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Akhtar continuing the tradition.
In a 'reverse swing bowling masterclass' on Sportskeeda’s YouTube channel, Akhtar shared crucial tips on how to get the old ball to move. He explained:
“The first thing to learn about reverse swing is to know how to use the wind to your advantage. Even if you are running in with the wind or against it, you must be able to send down the ball in a manner that it dips properly.”
Adding that he sometimes used to change his bowling action to get more speed while delivering the ball, the 46-year-old explained:
“You need to increase your bowling speed to reverse swing the ball. Unless you add a couple of yards, the ball will not travel quickly enough.”
Another crucial element of reverse swing is to ensure that one side of the ball is roughed up and the other side is shiny. Shedding more light on the same, Akhtar elaborated:
“We used to make the shiny side heavier, so that there was additional weight on one side of the ball. When running in against the wind, the ball is sent down like an outswinger but, in the end moment, it tails in and becomes an incutter yorker.
In his prime, Akhtar cleaned up many batters with his ability to reverse swing the ball at genuine pace.
“The amount of reverse swing also depends on how old the ball is” - Shoaib Akhtar
The "Rawalpindi Express" admitted that the amount of reverse swing a bowler gets also depends on how old the ball is. He explained:
“There is a lot of science in reverse swing. We used to utilize the crease at times, change our action and come across the stumps as well. The angle of reverse swing is very important. The amount of reverse swing also depends on how old the ball is. In a nutshell, extra pace is needed, and the ball should be old enough to reverse swing.”
One of the finest exponents of reverse swing, Akhtar played 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is for Pakistan, claiming a total of 444 international wickets.