LAHORE-Shoaib Akhtar, one of the fastest bowlers in the history of the game, feels that young sensations Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem have potential to become next Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

Akhtar said this during an online session with Pakistan national team and emerging bowlers here on Wednesday. “The world tends to remember fast bowlers by their spell that cast a spell on opponents and fans. Shaheeh Shah Afridi has the potential of becoming the next Wasim Akram while Naseem Shah can become the next Waqar Younis. Mohammad Abbas also swings the bowl well and has the potential of becoming the next Mohammad Asif.

“To achieve these goals, these bowlers need to assert their presence in no uncertain terms on their opponents and have clarity of mind and thought. There is no substitute to pace. The current crop of national and emerging players have the talent and pedigree but they need to win games on their own to gain popularity and earn recognition around the world,” he added.

Akhtar emphasised on the importance of aggression and attitude for a fast bowler and advised the players to compete hard with a batsman and see him in the eye to make an impression. He spoke with his usual passion to the players and asked them to assert their presence on the opposing batsman in a match situation.

Akhtar, who is known as Rawalpindi Express, also stressed upon the importance of bravery for any player. “For me, bravery is what sets people apart and lets them fight back and re-emerge in the face of adversity and challenges. I advise you to build relationships with the players, who are better than you. Imran Khan was the inspiration that brought me to the game while I modelled my bowling action on Waqar.”

The former fast bowler asked the players to keep working on their mental and physical fitness and maintain their focus in order to ensure that they return at their absolute best once the Covid-19 pandemic comes to an end. “This is the best time for all of you to work very hard on your fitness as well as your game, as the better you improve your fitness and game, the better results you will produce in the upcoming assignments.”

Akhtar, who started his international career in 1997, appeared in 47 Tests and 163 ODIs taking 178 and 247 wickets respectively, the right-armer also collected 19 T20I wickets. Before Akhtar’s lecture, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Rashid Latif, Mushtaq Ahmed and Mohammad Yousuf also spoke to the players and not only guided them well but also suggested them useful things and ways to emerge as the best in their respective departments.