Karachi -  For a man who became famous for terrorising the batsmen with his lightning quick deliveries, Shoaib Akhtar pauses every now and then to give an honest opinion on a matter that is close to his heart.

It's been six years since the Rawalpindi Express quit the game he enthralled. But his eyes sparkle even now when you ask him about fast bowling. He even feels that it's the fast bowlers who hold the key to Test cricket 's future. "The talent is diminishing when it comes to fast bowling," Akhtar told Khaleej Times during an interview in Dubai.

"You don't see many fast bowlers coming in and bowling at 95 miles per hour to terrorise the batsmen. There are not many great fast bowlers these days. You only have Dale Steyn and Mitchell Starc now. Cricket lack those fearsome characters these days. You need those sort of fast bowlers to keep Test cricket alive . I think the bigger players in ICC need to do something about it."

Test cricket , according to Shoaib, was far more exciting in his era, thanks to the thrill provided by quick bowlers like him and the fascinating battles they produced with some great batsmen. "That was our forte back in the 1990s. We used to produce so many good fast bowlers - bowlers who could consistently bowl at 94 miles per hour. So these fast bowlers we had because of the inspiration that we had in Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and especially Imran Khan. We bowled as fast as we could and we terrorised the batsmen as much as we could."

The current Pakistan team is brimming with talented young fast bowlers , but Shoaib, who formed a deadly attack with Wasim and Waqar at the turn of the century, rues the lack of one quality in them! "They are not quick," Shoaib quipped. "But they are good enough fast bowlers . Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees, (Usman Khan) Shinwari are not as quick, but they can run through opposition batting line-ups. Our bowlers put so much pressure on Indian batsmen in the Champions Trophy final and they just couldn't cope with that. They are good fast bowlers who are creating that magic."

Back in the late 1990s, it was on the dry Sharjah wickets that Shoaib Akhtar first showed his ability to bowl those magical spells. "When I first came to play in Sharjah in 1998, they told me that they would consider me as a good fast bowler only if I could take wickets and win matches for Pakistan on dry wickets. And I went on to take lot of wickets, thanks to my reverse swing. I was named the man-of-the series and they gave me a beautiful car. I kept that car for the longest period of time," he smiled.

Finally, Shoaib opened up on the curious case of Babar Azam, the 23-year-old Pakistan batsman who has struggled in Test cricket despite making a phenomenal start in the one-day game. "He gets an open field in one-dayers. There are not many people standing in the circle. But he struggles when the field comes in the circle in Test cricket ," Shoaib said. "He should get the art of Test cricket and play his natural game. If you are not able to find the gaps in Test cricket , then obviously there is some kind of problem in your technique. You need to score runs in Test cricket and play with people's mind. Babar Azam needs to prove himself as a Test match batsman."