New Delhi:Drawing flak from skipper MS Dhoni for calling the young Indian cricketers 'softies', former Pakistan pacer Wasim Akram said there was nothing personal about the comment and he only meant to help the young pacers.
Speaking exclusively to NDTV, Akram said many other experienced cricketers including Anil Kumble agreed with his views.
"It was nothing personal. The idea was to tell the future fast bowlers of India that work ethics need to be changed, that is how you can play for your country for long," Akram said.
A few days back, Akram had called the young and upcoming Indian players as "softies" and "spoilt" for their lack of enthusiasm and energy. To this Dhoni issued an immediate rejoinder. He said, "For me, what's important is how the team is shaping up. If you talk about the team being soft, they have done really well in adverse and difficult conditions, whether it's in Australia or the Twenty20 World Cup or some of the other tournaments where we were not at our best."
"Even in the Asia Cup, we did well with the youngsters. So I don't think you should be clever enough to make a statement based on three or four games. It's the overall picture that you set. I think the guys are courageous enough to go through any conditions or situations thrown at them," Dhoni said.
However, while speaking to Akram said, "Dhoni is doing a great job. He's leading from the front. I'm there to help. I'm there to help the youngsters. The idea was to tell the youngsters, the bowlers only, nothing to do with the Indian side, that they need to come back to basics and they can play for 10-15 years. And with these young bowlers India can be consistently number 1 side for 5-6 years".
When asked if he would want to become the Indian bowling coach, Akram said, "it depends on whether I'm available or not, but I'm always there to help for Pakistan, for India. If I'm free, I can come, have a couple of youngsters with me for 3 weeks, give them basics and keep on looking at them after 3-4 weeks. I'm definitely available to work for both the countries".
Akram also said that he feels bad when talented cricketers do not perform to their potential. He said the focus of the younger lot should be on playing Test cricket and T20 will follow.
"It hurts me when players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli don't do well. They have role models like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, so their aim should be to play Test cricket and T20 will follow," he said.
Former Pakistani all-rounder also gave his predictions for the Champions League T20, starting September 10 in South Africa. While he said the Australian and South African teams were the favourites, he was rooting for the Mumbai Indians.
"My favourites are Mumbai Indians because of Sachin Tendulkar. He is in red hot form and leads from the front," he said.