Shoaib Akhtar : Pakistan cricket’s enfant terrible in one last bow?
With a five year-ban on playing for Pakistan and a $3.65 million defamation suit slapped against him by the country’s cricket board chief, fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has his hands full, even by the standards of his tumultuous cricketing career.
Is this the end of the road for the pin-up boy of Pakistani cricket and one of the most recognisable figures of his country ? A tragic victim, at age 32, of his success, talent, fame and showmanship?
For many of us, there is no better sight in cricket than watching Shoaib steaming in to bowl, raw pace at its best and the crowds in a packed stadium behind him. The “Rawalpindi Express” crossed the 100 mile per hour speed barrier in the 2003 World Cup and there aren’t many in international cricket that quick.
This week as he arrived in India to play in an Indian Premier League after the Pakistani cricket board temporarily suspended the ban on him and the defamation suit was withdrawn following a public apology by Shoaib, the buzz was starting to pick up in the cricket-mad region.
For Shoaib, for all his indiscipline, late nights, missed training sessions and even a doping scandal, can still turn a match on its head and the crowds love it. His record of 178 wickets in 46 Tests and another 219 in 138 one-day internationals speaks for itself. And all this, after he missed dozens of matches due to fitness or disciplinary-related problems, the last straw being when he hit a teammate with a bat in South Africa.
One can only wonder what the temperamental player could have achieved if he simply had been more disciplined in his cricket.
For as they say no player is bigger than the game, and Shoaib has had his chances.