The Pakistan Cricket Board has confirmed that three Test bowlers besides an under-19 player would be joining for training under former Australian speedster Dennis Lillee at the MRF Pace foundation in Chennai.
The PCB on Wednesday confirmed by a fax message to the foundation that Mohammad Khalil, Mohammad Asif, Riaz Afridi, who were capped last season, and Mohammad Irshad, who represented Pakistan in the under-19 international matches, would join the academy for training under Lillee from June 25 to July 6, T A Sekar, Chief Coach at the Foundation, said.
"Our management has always welcomed youngsters in India and abroad to learn the art under Lillee, considered the professor emeritus of fast bowling," he said.
With Pakistan, despite boasting of the calibre of bowlers like Imran Khan, Safraz Nawaz, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, to name a few, deciding to send their bowlers here for training, the academy has become a force to reckon with, Sekar said.
According to Sekar, during the Indo-Pak Test match in Bangalore in March this year, PCB president Shaharyar Khan had expressed desire to send bowlers to the academy.
The PCB had last week stated in Islamabad that it was planning to send promising fast bowlers to India for a stint at the MRF Academy to make them formidable seamers.
PCB officials and its selectors favoured this venture being impressed with the products of the academy and also because training in Chennai would be cheaper when compared to the Australian Academy.
Left arm medium pacer Khalil, the most promising amongst them, had claimed five for 144 in three one-dayers against the Australians this year but went wicketless in the two Tests he played against Australia and India.
Afridi played in one Test against Sri Lanka in Oct-Nov 2004 at Karachi, claiming two for 42.
Asif's only Test against Australia this year was not fruitful (18-3-88-0), while Irshad has been waiting in the wings for his country's cap at the senior level.
According to Sekar, the Academy has signed an MOU with the Australian Cricket Board since 1999 and agreements on similar lines would be signed with cricket boards of England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh before the end of this month.
"All paper work and talks are over with these four cricket boards and soon we will seek recognition by the International Cricket Council," he said.
The Pakistan board is yet to discuss this aspect with the academy.
The academy went international in 1992 and since then bowlers from various countries have gained knowledge and honed their skills, making use of the facilities available.
"The list of bowlers, who have trained here [MRF Academy] and then donned their country caps include Glen McGrath, Brett Lee and Shane Watson (Australia), Michael Mason, Cluis Martin and
James Franklin (New Zealand), Makhaya Ntini, Lance Klusener, Nantine Hayward and Roger Telemacus (South Africa), Paul Franks, Steven Kirby, Sajjad Mohammed and Kabir Ali (England),
Chaminda Vaas, Nuvan Zoysa and Dilhara Fernando besides six others from Sri Lanka, five from Zimbabwe including Henry Olonga and Brian Strang and three from Bangladesh," Sekar said.
"This is proof enough that the Academy is a unique institution in the world and, therefore, we are going to seek ICC's recognition too.
"As for the Indians, the academy is proud of Vivek Razdan, Subroto Banerjee, Venkatesh Prasad, David Johnson, Javagal Srinath, Dodda Ganesh, Harvinder Singh, Debasish Mohanty, Zaheer Khan, T.Kumaran, Tinu Yohannan and Irfan Pathan (jr), who have made it to the national teams," he said.
In all, 43 bowlers from different boards, including 12 Indians, have represented their respective countries after training at the academy.
Apart from this, Ashish Nehra, Ajit Agarkar and Laxmipathy Balaji have been using the facilities to fine-tune their bowling and recuperate from injury. Presently, Srinath is a consultant coach at the academy.
Sekar claimed that the academy has done yeoman service to the cause of the game and both Indian and foreign trainees were extended free board and lodging, besides local transport all these years.