Once a terroriser of New Zealand batsmen, Waqar Younis is now a soothing voice in the commentary box.
Q. Where do you base yourself these days?
A. I live in Sydney. I've lived there for four or five years. I'm doing a lot of broadcasting and media work but not coaching at the moment.
Q. How are you enjoying the start of New Zealand's summer?
A. It's very cold here. It was cold in Dunedin also, but it's very windy here. But it's nice, I like it in New Zealand, I think it's a lovely place. In the early 1990s we came here a lot.
The last time I played here was eight years ago but in the early 1990s we used to tour every year. I had some great times, some great spells of bowling and it's lovely hospitality here. The people are very nice, very laidback and they love their cricket.
Q. Your matchwinning spell in Hamilton lingers in the mind [5-22 in 1993 as New Zealand were routed for 93]. How highly did that rate for you?
A. Hamilton was a very famous one, one of the all-time ones I remember. But also another spell in Auckland [4-46] and in Christchurch [6-78]. There were a few – New Zealand has been a happy hunting ground for me.
Q. Why was that? New Zealand's batsmen not used to the speed or swing?
A. A bit of both, I think. A bit of reverse, because I played here on slow wickets, not really quick wickets. Nowadays I think the pitches are a lot better here, a lot more grass. In those days, they were a lot flatter and I used to get a lot of reverse swing. I think that's one reason.
Q. Do you rate the standard of fast bowling around the world compared to your days?
A. They're two different eras. We had some great bowlers. Wasim Akram, myself, Malcolm Marshall, Glenn McGrath, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Brett Lee. Nowadays they are a different kind. Cricket has become more technical. In our days players used to believe more in their instincts.
Nowadays it's more computerised, more analysing. I think the big difference is the characters. In the 80s and 90s there were more characters on the field than now. Now it's more mechanical, like machines are bowling. Nice target bowling and if the runs are coming fast, put the fielders back. In our day we'd push the batsmen back on to the back foot.
Q. How did you learn your trade as a swing bowler?
A. I learnt my trade by playing in Pakistan on very flat, muddy, road wickets. No grass at all and the ball gets scuffed up very quickly. It was easy to work out which way the ball was swinging. Here it's more conventional swing. In Pakistan you would rely more on reverse swing. I happened to have good pace, to beat the bat with pace, so that really helped.
Q. The fact that Pakistan can't play their home games at home [because of security concerns], how sad is that for you?
A. It's sad that we can't play cricket back in Pakistan at the moment and hopefully things will get better. It's just unfortunate that we have to come out and play in other countries as our home series.
Q. You had a magnificent partnership with Wasim Akram on the field. What is your relationship like now?
A. I just went to Pakistan for his wife's funeral, his wife unfortunately just passed away. We speak over the phone, catch up over old stuff. We had a great partnership on the field and off the field we're good friends.
Q. Are you still close to the current team?
A. I played with a few of them so I've got some friendships. Plus they're a very young side and I think it's important to give your advice and experience to them. I think they need it and they deserve it.
It's not easy for them because the team is in a rebuilding scenario. They lost the first test, which was a very good test. The bowling's been good so I think the big question mark is over the batting, which is not the best at the moment.
Q. Mohammad Aamer and Umar Akmal are serious talents. How good can they be?
A. I think they've got the potential, it's entirely up to them. They just have to keep working hard, which they are, because I've spoken with them and they really want to do well. It's not only a game, it's their financial bread and butter. They can really make a name for themselves and a lot of money.
AT A GLANCE
Name: Waqar Younis
Test bowling: 87 matches (1989-2003), 373 wickets at an average of 23.56
Against New Zealand: 13 matches, 70 wickets at 19.6
Best bowling: 7-76 against New Zealand at Faisalabad, 7-86 against New Zealand at Lahore
- The Dominion Post