Karachi: Recent rule changes in limited-overs cricket and the increasing popularity of the Twenty20 format have made the job of pace bowling a much tougher assignment, former Pakistan fast bowler and captain Wasim Akram said on Saturday.
Akram, 46, started a 10-day training camp in Karachi for 19 of Pakistan's top fast bowlers, including members of the national team and some raw talent. The camp was set up ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy after selectors and some former players expressed concerns over the declining pace bowling resources in the country following Pakistan's dismal performance in South Africa.
"The rule changes in one-day cricket, that you can't keep more than four fielders outside the circle in a 50-over match at any time, and the rising popularity of T20 cricket means pace bowlers now need to be more adaptable," Akram told reporters.
"I will advise these bowlers that to be successful in this scenario, aggression is a must with top grade fitness, pace and the ability to have length variation. T20 cricket has changed the mentality of batsmen. The odds are stacked against the bowlers."
Pakistan's most experienced pace bowler Umar Gul managed just five wickets in two tests at an average of 45 when the team were whitewashed by South Africa in a recent three-test away series.
Left-armer Akram, regarded as one of world's fast bowling greats with 414 test and 502 ODI wickets, said Pakistan did not lack talent. Bowlers just needed proper guidance, he added.
"I see some of these bowlers have pace, and that is an encouraging sign, but they need to be groomed on how to best make use of it and how to bowl in the three different formats of the game," he said.
Akram has been supervising the talent hunt for fast bowlers in 10 cities across the country and said he would be paying extra attention to left-arm pacers Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan, both current members of the national team.
"Irfan is a special talent but because of his height he needs to be handled carefully," Akram said of the seven-footer.