Pak launches nationwide talent hunt for bowlers

Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore:Pakistan has launched a nationwide hunt for talented fast bowlers to face new Ashes holders England when they tour here in November and December.

Officials will scour the cricket-crazy country for untested pacemen to emulate legends like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, who terrorised batsmen in the 1980s and 1990s.

"We need to have a better combination of fast bowlers and need to explore more talent," Pakistani captain Inzamam-ul Haq said during a press conference late Monday to announce a series of trials.

The trials, staged by the Pakistan Cricket Board, will be held in ten cities across Pakistan and the best fast bowlers outside first class competition will be picked.

Pakistan have struggled to find a suitably lethal pair of quicks. Shoaib Akhtar holds the record as the world's fastest bowler but has been plagued by injuries, as has Mohammad Sami.

Another frontline pacer, Shabbir Ahmed, is banned from bowling at international level after his action was reported as illegal for a third time earlier this year.

Shabbir faces a race against time and can only feature in the series against England if he gets the all clear on his action from the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Both Akhtar and Sami missed Pakistan's last series in the West Indies in May-June this year but are set to return for the home series against England.

"If we are able to pick an extraordinary pacer from these trials he can also be inducted in Pakistan's tune-up camp for the England series," said Inzamam.

Pakistan play virtually non-stop cricket until the 2007 World Cup. They host England and India for three Tests and five one-dayers each from November this year to February 2006, when they will also feature in a six-nation Asia Cup.

The side also has tours of Sri Lanka and England lined up for next year.

Inzamam said such talent hunt schemes should also be launched to find batsmen.

For the bowlers, a team of former Test players headed by current national selector Ehteshamuddin will start the search in Quetta on September 20.

The final selection will be in Lahore on October 16 and 17. Six selected bowlers will then join the national camp for the England series.

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