Photo released April 29, 2013, shows Wasim Akram (R) with Ahmed Jamal at a Karachi training camp on April 21, 2013 © AFP
Karachi: Apr 29, 2013
Little-known bowler Ahmed Jamal has vowed to make a name for himself after winning a nationwide “King of Speed” competition launched by cricket chiefs to unearth a new Pakistani quick.
Pakistan boast a proud history of pacemen including the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar, and Jamal showed he has the pace to frighten batsmen with a fastest delivery of 143 kilometres (89 miles) an hour.
The 24-year-old, who hails from the city of Abbottabad where Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in 2011, came out on top in the competition organised by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Jamal, who plays first-class cricket for Port Qasim, was delighted to scoop the one million rupee ($10,000) prize after the four-man final.
“I am thrilled and very happy,” Jamal said. “My feet were on the ground before I won this and will remain on the ground after winning the prize as I want to make a name for myself.”
The PCB organised the hunt for fast bowlers ahead of a 10-day training camp led by Wasim after chief selector Iqbal Qasim raised concerns about poor quality in the pace department.
Wasim, regarded by many as the best left-arm fast bowler ever to play the game, said he was satisfied with the talent on display at the camp, where around 20 bowlers trained.
“It was a short camp and we will not stop here,” he said at the end of the camp.
“What I have noticed that all these bowlers are passionate and want to learn, which proved that the next five years we will have no problem in the pace department.”
Jamal was picked from trials in Abbottabad earlier this month, one of a series in 10 cities to find a bowler with 145 km speed. The other three finalists were Faisal Yasin, Abdul Hameed and Mohammad Imran.
Former Pakistan paceman Akram said Jamal, who is six feet four inches tall (1.93 metres), has the ability to thrive.
“I noticed him on the first day and he looks very talented,” Wasim said of Jamal. “I think with some hard work he can increase his pace and can become an asset for the country.”
Jamal said he was inspired to bowl fast by Shoaib Akhtar.
“The desire was inspired by watching Shoaib,” Jamal recalled. “I want to achieve his speed and want to bowl as fast as he used to.”
Wasim will also help the bowlers at the national team’s camp next month to tune up for the eight-nation Champions Trophy in England where they will be without their usual pace spearhead Umar Gul, who is injured.