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Archive for February 20th, 2008

Player Profile(no#6)…Shoaib Akhtar(Pakistan)

Posted by wildkiwi25 on February 20, 2008

This is how lethal Shoaib Akhtar can be....

shoaib akhtar's hurtling run-up

shoaib akhtar bowls jamie dalrymple

There have been many highly regarded pace bowlers in the game of cricket that can bowl at blindingly fast pace with devastating consequences for any batsman that makes a miss-shot or attempts a shot but is deceived by the lightning pace of the express pace bowlers. Pakistan is one cricketing country (also including countries like the West Indies, Australia, England etc that have produced bowlers of the highest calibre and pace such as Malcolm Marshall, Jeff Thompson, John Snow, Courtney Walsh, Brett Lee and co) that has produced express pacemen such as Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and the player that this profile is about- Shoaib Akhtar.

The “Rawalpindi Express” as he is known by is widely regarded as the fastest bowler ever in cricket, having twice bowled over the 100mph mark (one of these deliveries was against Nick Knight of England in a match in the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa). Even on the most dead of pitches he was just as lethal as ever, being able to deceive opposition batsman with his vast bowling weaponry that include fast Yorkers, well disguised slower balls, swinging deliveries and sharp bouncers.

However as brilliant as his bowling skills he was perhaps overcome by stardom (and later on an overinflated ego) when he played in the 1999 Cricket World Cup in the U.K. He achieved a cult status in the cricketing world with his hurtling run-up, his flopping mop of hair, his “acting” skills in show-boating, and his vividly memorable nickname of the Rawalpindi Express (in reference to the area he was brought up in- a town called Morgah which is near Rawalpindi in the Punjab region of Pakistan). It was during the time where he achieved stardom and a cult status amongst cricket enthusiasts that contributed to the hype surrounding him, which ultimately led to his ego over-inflating. An ambition of creating history by being the first cricketer to break the holy grail of bowling- the 100mph barrier, which he did at the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa) together with the overinflated ego fuelled by the hype and stardom he inherited were things that were said to matter to him more than being in the Pakistani team. His cricketing career has being filled with several incidences of controversy that have revolved around him, such as being banned from cricket in November 2006 for testing positive for the banned substance Nandrolone (which he was later aquitted of, with visible disgust from international drugs agencies), cricketing authorities sidelining him over queries to his bowling action (they perceived him to be a “chucker”- which is when you bowl illegally by bending the elbow more than 15 degrees instead of keeping the arm straight, as it’s meant to be) however he was also cleared of this when the University of Western Australia conducted studies on his action and came up with the revelation that he has hyper-extendable joints in his bowling arm. He later brushed controversies aside and in 2002 he utilised his potent resources better when he blitzed Australia with bowling figures of 5 for 25 in a One-Dayer in Brisbane, and then also bowled an equally impressive spell in Colombo with figures of 5 for 21 which influenced Pakistan’s victory in the Test there. In the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa however was very disappointing in comparison and was subsequently dropped after Pakistan’s disappointing showing at that World Cup. It appeared the selectors had faith in him when he toured with the team to New Zealand and regained his legendary form, but this was short-term as afterwards Pakistan went on a highly controversial and forgettable tour to India where not only he struggled for wickets but he left the field in the 3rd Test of the series supposedly with wrist injury and back pain and it appeared to be suspiciously controversial when neither of the “injuries” appeared to bother his batting ability. This incident sparked a period in which his career was in jeopardy. His commitment to the team was frequently debated and the relationship with then-captain Inzamam ul Haq and coach Bob Woolmer deteriorated and made problems alot worser.

It was in One day that his career was perhaps told in a short summary; he returned against South Africa in Durban in 2006-07, having not been picked for the series initially, took 4 for 36 in 11 overs, set up a Test win, strained a hamstring, argued with the late coach Bob Woolmer, and returned to Pakistan. He was in Pakistan’s squad for the 2007 World Cup, but pulled out at the last minute with an injury, though many suggested it was actually because of fears that traces of Nandrolone remained in his system, which might crop up in a dope test during the tournament. It turned out, in hindsight, to be a good tournament to miss.
Shoaib was not picked to represent Pakistan in the Abu Dhabi series against Sri Lanka and was dropped from the Asian squad for the Afro-Asia Cup after being initially selected. He, however, was named in Pakistan’s squad for a brief tour of Scotland as well as the squad for the inaugural ICC World Twenty20. However, a dressing room bust-up with fellow paceman Mohammad Asif resulted in Shoaib being sent back home before the tournament even started.

Here are some links to other articles and items which relate to the speedster:

  • PCB bans Shoaib Akhtar for an indefinite period
  • Bone scan puts Akhtar in the clear (2004)
  • ABC Sport – Cricket – Pakistan’s Akhtar fined for Australian disco jaunt
  • Shoaib slapped coach Woolmer over i-Pod song- Indiatimes Cricket
  • Cricinfo – Asif and Akhtar to return home
  • ^ Shoaib never co-operated for dope tests: Shaharyar – News – News – Indiatimes Cricket
  • BBC SPORT | Cricket | Shocked Shoaib protests innocence
  • Cricinfo – Sad but we had to make an example of Shoaib – Alam
  • Pakistan Cricket Board – official website
  • Cricinfo – Shoaib and Asif banned for drugs use
  • Cricinfo – Shoaib and Asif acquitted
  • Shoaib and Asif out of the World Cup
  • Court cannot rule on Pakistan duo
  • Shoaib uses foul language to protest PCB decision
  • Shoaib hits Asif with bat, thrown out of team
  • Asif injured in dressing room spat by Akhtar
  • Pakistan recalls Shoaib after Twenty20 World Cup bust up
  • Shoaib to be sent home after incident
  • Cricket-Pakistan’s Akhtar accuses Afridi of instigating spat | Sports | Cricket | Reuters
  • Shoaib is not speaking the truth: Asif
    Shoaib Akhtar

    Shoaib Akhtar gets a wicket

    *Acknowledgements to Cricinfo.com and the staff, Wikipedia.com

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    Posted in 100mph, Brett Lee, Courtney Walsh, Jeff Thompson, John Snow, Malcolm Marshall, Morgah, Nick Knight, Pakistan, Punjab, Rawalpindi, Rawalpindi Express, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram | Leave a Comment »