It is sad; world cricket will soon be deprived of one of the most enigmatic speedsters of the game of cricket. He is Shoaib Akther of Pakistan. A man whose presence in the field used to send shivers down the spines of many a cricketer in the world. That a man who made batsmen tremble with fear, has to make an unceremonious exit at the prime of his career, from the very game that gave him name and fame, is nothing but unfortunate.
Shoaib Akther, was considered one of the fastest bowlers in the world which earned him the nickname, the “Rawalpindi Express”. He began his career with a bang and the world took notice of his lightning speed, never seen before. He twice crossed 100 MPH and his attempt to concentrate more on speed than on lethal deliveries cost him his place. His ability to bowl fast yorkers, well disguised slow balls, swinging deliveries, and sharp bouncers made him lethal even on dead pitches. This was Shoaib Akther of the late 90s. Much water has flowed under his bridge since then.
Shoaib Akhtar, son of a worker in Attock Oil Refinery, Morgah, a small town near Rawalpindi, started his studies at Elliot High School, Morgah and then took admission in Gordon College, Rawalpindi. There he was given the chance to show off his talent and consequently come into the limelight. He was picked up by the national side for his sheer speed and ability to swing both ways. His yorkers were lethal, while short-pitched deliveries were deadly. All these combined made him one of the most feared bowlers in the world. He shot to fame, alright, but could not cope with it. He took his place for granted in the side. He thought the Pakistani team would not do well without him. This was his undoing.
When Pakistan found new players equally good in fast bowling, if not in speed, he found the going tough. In the bargain he lost his cool and his fitness as well. He looked ordinary when all the batsmen started hitting him all over. A wicket here and there had not helped him to regain his form or his name as a lethal bowler for which he was famous. He became ordinary and subsequently irrelevant. So much so that he did not find a place even in 50 probable for the World Championship outings.
Lamenting on his omission from the probable, equally famous fast bowler and former captain Wasim Akram, said barring miracles, it was curtains down on Shoaib Akther. He further said that unless something dramatic happens, Shoaib Akther stands no chance whatsoever to make a come back to the national reckoning. Pakistan has already found new pacers in Umar Gul and Ameer.
Wasim Akram, a fast bowler who took more than 900 wickets in both formats of the game, while advising Asif to learn from his mistake, said, the equally controversial Asif also has an unpredictable future. He had a piece of advice for Umar Gul also, to show his character in Test cricket, apart from his good show in ODI and T20.
All said and done, if anyone is to be blamed for the present predicament, it was Shoaib Akther himself. He never concentrated on the game as he became famous and had other engagements. Added to the woes, he put on extra weight, losing speed in the run up to the crease. He becomes tired too soon. According to one selector, Shoaib cannot bowl more than three overs at a stretch as he lost his rhythm. In the end, a sad end to a chequered career. Jai Hind.