Karachi: The Pakistani pace bowlers training at a specialised camp under the supervision of former captain, Wasim Akram, were on Thursday given a religious sermon by ex-opener Saeed Anwar.
In an surprise development, Anwar, a devout muslim, visited the National Stadium with a group of religious preachers including former pop star, Junaid Jamshed, to deliver the sermon.
"The idea of talking to the players was to tell them how important it is as a muslim for us to follow the teachings of Islam. I told them they can improve as human beings and become better players if they followed the principles of Islam in their life," Anwar said.
The bearded Anwar, dressed in a flowing white robe and wearing a skull cap, spent nearly 30 minutes with the group of 23 players, as Akram and the national team's head coach, Dav Whatmore listened from a distance.
Anwar, a prolific left-handed opener of his time, who retired after the 2003 World Cup after scoring two hundreds, told the players to "lead a pure and simple life".
Anwar had found solace in religion after the tragic death of his infant daughter.
Religion became an important part of the Pakistan team during the tenure of former captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, between 2003 and 2007, when the players prayed together regularly, leading to fears that the players might not be able to focus on cricket.
Pakistan's former Test batsman, Mohammad Yousuf, had also converted to Islam from Christianity.
Anwar told the players to make use of the opportunity to work with a legendary bowler like Akram.
The camaraderie between Anwar and Akram -- both had played a lot together -- was obvious from the moment the former walked into the stadium.
"The sort of facilities being given to these players now we did not have in our times so I think these players are lucky to have a chance to train in such conditions with Wasim," Anwar said.
Story first published on: Thursday, 25 April 2013 15:27 IST