Shoaib Akhtar believes the current group of batters are lucky as they have not faced the likes of Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, and Shane Warne, and himself in the international arena.
In an exclusive chat, former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar spoke at length on various topics. He was asked to give his views on how much the sport of cricket had evolved over the last few years.
Shoaib Akhtar: Batsmen Nowadays Are Fortunate Not To Face Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, And Shoaib Akhtar
Shoaib Akhtar opined that only the batting shots had evolved but there was no improvement in the quality of the game. He felt the majority of the current batters would fail to tackle the spin of Shane Warne and the pace and swing of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and himself.
“The game of cricket has not evolved. The shots have evolved, but the quality of the game has deteriorated in the last 10 years. Today’s batsmen are fortunate not to face the likes of Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and me,” replied Shoaib Akhtar.
When it comes to Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper has been praised by many for his tremendous batting ability. The captain has faced many deadly bowlers, but former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar feels that Virat Kohli would have enjoyed it if he had played against the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Shane Warne.
Shoaib Akhtar: Fan Following Of Cricket Has Gradually Decreased
Shoaib Akhtar also spoke about how the fan following of cricket has gradually decreased over the years. He pointed out that the big matches of the ICC events drew big numbers in terms of viewership, but they were not consistent.
The 45-year-old tried to explain the reason behind the decline and said there were no ‘characters’ left in the sport now despite the presence of many star batsmen like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Joe Root, Kane Williamson, Babar Azam, and Steve Smith and pacers like Mitchell Starc, Kagiso Rabada, Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah and spinners like Nathan Lyon, and Ravichandran Ashwin.
“The deterioration has happened. The viewership of the game has not increased but it has come down because the characters of the game have gone. People are saying there’s more viewership, but how is there more viewership? There’s no viewership for Test matches. 600 million might have watched the Champions Trophy match, but that was a one-off,” Shoaib Akhtar concluded.
Shoaib Akhtar further observed that the viewership has also suffered a drip because the major “characters of the game have gone” away from the game. He pointed out that there have often been talks of Test cricket suffering due to a lack of interest from the younger audience, and that only a few big games in ICC events gain viewers’ attention.
As for Shoaib Akhtar, the fast-bowler who bowled at an express pace claimed 178 Test wickets in 46 matches, 247 wickets in 163 One-day Internationals, and 19 wickets in 15 T20 Internationals for Pakistan before retiring from international cricket in 2011.