Pakistan's Wasim the unlikely choice to revive India pace attack

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The Independent Online

Wasim Akram has emerged as the surprise choice of India cricket officials as they seek to appoint a fast-bowling coach.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India have approached the Pakistani former Lancashire all-rounder, who is mulling over their offer. India hope to bring in a new man to take care of their bowlers on the tour of Australia, which begins next week.

The India captain, Sourav Ganguly, and the coach, John Wright, recommended employing Wasim to the BCCI. He is expected to meet the BCCI president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, within the next four days to discuss the proposal, with Ganguly especially keen to have him on board.

"To me, he is the greatest fast bowler of the modern era," Ganguly said. "And I feel that, since he's left-handed, both Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra will benefit from his tips. Akram has always been helpful to junior cricketers, so we decided to propose his name to the BCCI."

India and Pakistan are the fiercest of cricket rivals. They have not played a Test series in Pakistan since 1989, because of political divisions between the two nations.

The Indian government banned the national team from playing against their neighbours in matches outside multi-nation tournaments such as the World Cup, claiming terrorist activities in the Kashmir region were funded by political bodies in Pakistan.

However, there are plans for change in 2004, with the Pakistan Cricket Board recently proposing an itinerary of matches between the teams, to take place in Pakistan during next February and March.

Elsewhere, the United Cricket Board of South Africa has instructed Eastern Province to suspend Kepler Wessels as coach after he was alleged to have made racist remarks earlier this year.

"The board... instructed Eastern Province to suspend the coach of the EP Jumbos, Kepler Wessels, on full pay pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing which will be held shortly regarding allegations of racist remarks allegedly made by Wessels," the UCBSA said in a statement.

The former South Africa captain Wessels said: "I demand the investigation take place as soon as possible. The matter is in the hands of my legal advisors and we will fight it all the way. I am looking forward to the outcome."