Life is full of ironies and paradoxes more so if you are a sportsman.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
It is even more of that if your name is Faraz Akram, who made his T20I debut against Pakistan in the last match of the just-ended white ball tour.
A star in Elton Chigumbura said goodbye to international cricket in the match that Akram announced himself on the big stage.
As one star was fading on the horizon, another was emerging with a bowling performance that could only earn the admiration of his departing master.
Born in Saudi Arabia, Akram was on debut against his country of origin Pakistan for a nation he now calls home, that is Zimbabwe.
The 27-year-old has not made it a secret that Chigumbura is one of his childhood heroes and dreams of playing the role of an all-rounder like Chigumbura.
“I grew up watching Elton playing the finishing role and I also bowl. I have always wanted to be an all-rounder following in Elty’s footsteps,” Akram told The Sports Hub.
“Elton has had a massive 16 years of international cricket —what a guy. Congratulations to him on a wonderful career and I wish him good luck. This is a good opportunity for us younger players to work even harder than before and fill in the void left by Elton.”
In the game against Pakistan, he didn’t get a chance to showcase his batting prowess but displayed his bowling skills.
He was thrown into the deep end, given the ball in the power play by Zimbabwe captain Chamu Chibhabha to bowl his first two overs in international cricket and to his credit he didn’t sink.
He conceded a thrifty six runs in his first two overs and surely establishing himself as one for the future.
Akram took the ball away from the left handers and it came back into the right hander, that hint of swing showed that with proper coaching and guidance he can develop into a swing bowler of international repute.
The Saudi-born all-rounder, who made Zimbabwe his new home at the age of seven, is a product of Tatenda Taibu’s Rising Star Academy that toured the United Kingdom in 2017 for almost three months.
When you speak to Akram, he leaves you with an impression of a respectful well cultured young man who is a student of the game.
Most young players complain about the senior players not making room for them so that they can express their talent at the international level, that is not so with Akram.
He understands that both the young and the old have a role to play in carrying Zimbabwe cricket forward.
“As a young and upcoming cricketer, all I can do is to do well whenever I get the opportunity. I’m not thinking about taking the seniors’ place or competing with them (because) I feel like the knowledge you get from those people is priceless as they have represented Zimbabwe for many years,” he adds.
“It’s the knowledge and experience that they pass through to make sure as a country we do well in the future.”
Historically Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have had close ties, the oil-rich kingdom being home to over 2.5 million Pakistani expatriates.
That kind of camaraderie continued in Zimbabwe between the Saudi-born Akram and Sikandar Raza, the Zimbabwe all-rounder who was born in Pakistan.
Akram speaks glowingly about Raza, especially how he made him settle well within the cricket system from a young age and wants to take from him as much as he can.
“He is the guy who I have been seeing playing and he gave us hope that if we work hard we will get opportunities. He has been a great guy and helped me in every step of the way and I’m hoping to take as much knowledge from him,” said Akram.