Wasim Akram is widely regarded as one of the greatest pacemen ever. © AFP

Wasim Akram is widely regarded as one of the greatest pacemen ever. © AFP

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have announced the signing up of Wasim Akram as a mentor ahead of the team’s tough tour of South Africa next month.

Akram, 50, will conduct a day-long coaching clinic in Colombo on Thursday (December 1), announced SLC, in what was expected to be the first of a series of programmes involving experts from foreign shores.

“We are honoured that Mr Akram has accepted our invitation to be a part of this initiative,” said Thilanga Sumathipala, the SLC chief, while announcing the arrangement, adding that he expected Sri Lanka to be a strong contender at the 2019 50-over World Cup to be held in the United Kingdom if the young team is given the right guidance.

“With the amazing young talent that Sri Lanka is just brimming with at the moment, the World Cup in 2019 is fast becoming a reality,” said Sumathipala. “We have already put the technical and the scientific pillars into place. The invaluable insight our players can gain from the vast reservoir of knowledge and expertise of world cricket’s legends will provide them with the store of game-knowledge they will need.

“A cricketer and a gentleman of the calibre of Mr Akram is the ideal mentor to give wing to this latest initiative of SLC by which we intend to invite a series of such legends of the game to conduct workshops with our players, and to also mentor our coaches to perpetuate that learning.”

The tie-up with Akram was made public soon after the victorious team returned home after beating Zimbabwe in a two-Test series and lifting the triangular series trophy that also had West Indies.

One of the greatest pacers ever to grace the game, Akram picked up 414 wickets in 104 Tests and 502 in 356 One-Day Internationals, both of which are records for Pakistan.

Sri Lanka, No. 7 in the International Cricket Council Test rankings, are set to tour South Africa, who are No. 5, for three Tests, three Twenty20 Internationals and five ODIs starting December 26.