File photo of Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Irfan bowling during an ODI against India. (BCCI)
Islamabad: Tall fast bowler Mohammad Irfan is hoping some advice from the legendary Wasim Akram will help him increase his pace for this June's Champions Trophy in England. At 7-feet-1 (2.16 metres) Irfan is the world's tallest pace bowler and has taken 14 wickets in nine one-day internationals in an injury-hit career.
The 30-year-old Irfan was sidelined for more than two years due to injuries after making his debut in 2010 against England before becoming an integral part of the national team since December last year. "I have to add some speed in my bowling," Irfan told reporters at Akram's training camp in Karachi on Monday. "My height is a big advantage and it is getting me respect and popularity as well."
Irfan could not take a wicket in his two ODIs against England at Chester-le-Street and Leeds when he last played there in 2010 before his long layoff from international cricket. But after bowling well in seaming conditions in South Africa, he is confident to do well in Champions Trophy against Group B opponents West Indies, South Africa and India.
"The past is behind me as I could not do much the first time I played there," Irfan said, adding that Akram "is telling me how to bowl there, like yorkers and full length deliveries."
Akram is teaming with the Pakistan Cricket Board to conduct a 10-day training camp for fast bowlers to harness their skills, and Irfan said it was good to learn the art of fast bowling from a legend. "He [Akram] had helped me before and now he has told me a lot about the match conditions, how we have to come back after being hit for a boundary," Irfan said. "We are learning and it's a great experience. He is telling us about the correct line and length, where to bowl in different conditions. He truly is a legend."
Akram will also spend a few days at a training camp for the Pakistan team next month after the final 15-member squad for the Champions Trophy is announced this week.
There will be added pressure on Irfan after fast bowler Umar Gul was ruled out of the Champions Trophy due to a knee injury, and Irfan said Gul's absence will be felt. "We will miss Gul because when he is there, he tells me a lot of things," he said.
Before the Champions Trophy, Pakistan are scheduled to play two one-day internationals each against Ireland and Scotland next month.