RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
Sultan - A memoir - Wasim Akram with Gideon Haigh

Sultan - A memoir
Wasim Akram with Gideon Haigh

Published by
Hardie Grant Books (Melbourne),
658 Church Street, Richmond,
Victoria 3121, Australia.

Price: 45 Australian dollars
Pages: 296

Website: www.hardiegrantbook.com

Wasim Akram, the only left-arm bowler to accomplish the double of 2,000 runs and 400 wickets in Tests apart from the only all-rounder to achieve the distinction of 3,000 runs and 500 wickets in One Day Internationals, is considered to be one of the founders, and perhaps the finest exponent of reverse swing bowling.

Sultan is the official autobiography of Wasim Akram, the 'Sultan of Swing', one of the greatest fast bowlers in the history of cricket.

Wasim Akram says the credit of bringing his autobiography more than twenty years after his last Test, goes to his wife Shaniera, whose quite but constant urging finally convinced him that the time was ripe. "Her energy and commitment is behind every page, as it has been behind everything else in our lives, including the making of three homes round the world."

Wasim Akram has paid tributes to Javed Miandad and Imran Khan. "Whatever I achieved is down to their inspiration, as mentors, leaders and teammates. It was an honour to play alongside them; all I really had to do to become a better cricketer."

In Sultan, Imran Khan remarks about Wasim: "I never saw a cricketer with such talent as Wasim Akram. Everything about him was completely natural. He arrived on the scene with an action he hardly had to altar and a passion for the game that never dimmed. What I taught him was the art of taking wickets and the importance of self-discipline - how he had to work if he was to fulfil his enormous potential."

The book covered the 1991-92 Benson & Hedges World Cup, played in Australia. Wasim Akram (33 off 18 balls and 3 for 49) was deservingly named the Man of the Match against England at Melbourne on March 25, enabling his team to lift the Trophy with a 22-run triumph. He says the official prize money for the World Cup then was miserable: each squad member received about US$1800. "It was our countrymen who were most generous. Each of us received a plot of land in Islamabad."

Wasim talks frankly about the crumbling and rebuilding of his private life, marred by the tragedy of his first wife's death and the torment of addiction. The result is an unprecedented insight into the life of a cricketer, who revolutionised the game with his speed and swing, and a patriot buoyed and burdened by the expectation of one of the game's most fanatical publics.

Wasim was also at the centre of controversies that dogged cricket, especially in Pakistan, over corruption and cheating, which led to judicial inquiries, court cases, trauma and illness - in particular the diabetes against which he fought through the second half of his career.

In a chapter, Battling My Demons, he admitted having developed a dependence on cocaine. "It started innocuously enough when I was offered a line at a party in England, but my use grew steadily more serious, to the point that I felt I needed it to function. It made me volatile. It made me deceptive. "It was getting out of hand. I couldn't control it. I could not sleep. I could not eat. I grew inattentive to diabetes, which caused me headaches and mood swings."

Wasim Akram has been paid a rich tribute by Sachin Tendulkar: "Cricket is a team sport, but everything goes back to the rivalry of batter and bowler, and in Wasim Akram every batter had a wonderful rival - when you play against someone of that calibre, it lifts your game as well, and the experience stays with you forever. Wasim was a master. He made the ball talk. His run-up was so natural."

Sultan A Memoir is a fascinating story of Wasim Akram's life, having a comprehensive statistical section, compiled by Ric Finlay, apart from a well-compiled index and an excellent selection of photographs.

Highly recommended. This is one cricket book you do not want to be without if you value your cricketing hero, Wasim Akram. An outstanding book in all respects.

We are thankful to Kirstie Grant, Senior Publicist, Hardie Grant Books, Australia for sending a review copy of the book for our website.