Paarl (South Africa): Pakistan's Wasim Akram became the first bowler to take 500 One- day wickets when he bowled the Netherlands' Nick Statham in the World Cup Group 'A' game at Boland Park on Tuesday. Wasim reached the landmark in his 354th match and the next best on the all-time list is his captain Waqar Younis, who has 412 wickets in 259 appearances before Tuesday's game. The left-armer, playing his fifth and last World Cup, is the only bowler to have taken over 400 wickets in both forms of the game. Only Sri Lankan Muthiah Muralitharan, India's Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath have taken 300 or more wickets in Limited Over Internationals.
West Indian Courtney Walsh holds the record of most Test wickets with 519 in 132 matches, followed by Australia's Shane Warne (491), Sri Lanka's Muralitharan (437) India's Kapil Dev (434), New Zealand's Richard Hadleeand Wasim (414). Plagued by injuries, Wasim abandoned his chase for Walsh's record tally in the longer version of the game but has set a benchmark in One-day cricket, which will be hard to beat. Regarded as one of the most innovative new-ball bowlers, Wasim failed to get a wicket on his One-day debut against New Zealand at Faisalabad in 1984-85 but was instantly compared with Australian legendary left-armer Alan Davidson when he took 5 for 21 against the Australians in the World Championship of cricket in Melbourne in only his fourth match.
He also holds the record of two hat tricks - both in Tests and One-dayers - his first hat trick coming against the West Indies in the Sharjah Champions Trophy One- day tournament in 1989-90 during which he also completed his 100 wickets. That was followed by a second hat-trick against Australia, also in Sharjah six months later. Wasim's finest hour came in the 1992 World Cup when he took 18 wickets - three in the final - to finish as player-of-the-tournament and helped his team win the title. "It is something special to achieve 500, but at the end of the day it matters more that the team achieve some crucial wins in the World Cup," Wasim said.
Asked which one of his wickets was most special, Wasim said it was always a personal victory to remove the likes of Viv Richards, Martin Crowe and Javed Miandad. "These were the geniuses of One-day cricket, and they knew how to play reverse swing. I consider Viv the best one-day batsman of all time," he said. "It is something special to achieve 500, but at the end of the day it matters more that the team achieve some crucial wins in the World Cup," Wasim said. The former Pakistan captain acknowledged that the 1992 World Cup final against England was one of the most memorable matches in which he claimed three for 49 and scored 33 off 19 deliveries to secure his team's win.
Wasim said on Tuesday that one of the key factors in a World Cup campaign is to peak at the right moment, just as Pakistan had done in 1992. Wasim went on to say that winning the World Cup was far more important that his personal achievements. "It is crucial that we accelerate at the right moment," he said. Copyright AFP 2001