Shoaib Akhtar was born on 13 August 1975 in Rawalpindi, Punjab. He is a Pakistani right arm fast bowler in cricket, who is regarded as one of the fastest bowlers in the world. He set an official world record by achieving the fastest delivery, when he clocked in at 161.3 km/ph (100.2 mph) in his bowling speed, twice at a cricket match. His ability to bowl fast yorkers and quick bouncers have made him one of the best fast bowlers in cricket.
However, he has been involved in several controversy during his career, often accused of not being a team player. Akhtar was sent home during the Test match series in Australia in 2005 for alleged poor attitude. A year later, he was embroiled in a drug scandal after testing positive to a banned substance. However, the ban imposed on him was lifted on court appeal. In September 2007, Akhtar was banned for an indefinite period for his fight with Pakistan team mate and fast bowler Mohammad Asif. On 1 April 2008, Akhtar was banned for five years for publicly criticizing the Pakistan Cricket Board. In October 2008, the Lahore High Court in Pakistan suspended the five year ban and Akhtar was selected in the 15-man squad for the Twenty20 Quadrangular Tournament in Canada. Pakistani judge, Rana Bhagwandas stated once that, Akhtar is a legend of Pakistan cricket.
Shoaib is poised to make a return to International cricket albeit in the shorter format of the game. The Pakistan Cricket Board have included Akhtar in the Twenty20/One Day International squad for the Summer 2010 series against England. However Shoaib has not been selected in the Test squad and is expected to feature only in the shorter format of the game for Pakistan in this series.
Akhtar was born at Morgah, a small town near Rawalpindi, Punjab in Pakistan. His father was a worker in Attock Oil Refinery, Morgah. His father being a Punjabi while his mother an ethnic Pakhtoon. Akhtar started his studies at Elliott High School, Morgah and then took admission in the Asghar Mall College, Rawalpindi. There he was given the chance to show off his talent and consequently he was discovered.
CareerAkhtar’s run of impressive performances started in the 1990s. In 1999, during a pre-World Cup series against India, he rose to prominence. It was followed by outstanding bowling performances in Sharjah and later in 1999 Cricket World Cup. His most significant performance arrived in India in 1999 when he achieved eight wickets in the Asian Test championship match at Calcutta – including the wickets of Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid off successive deliveries. This was Akhtar’s first encounter with Sachin Tendulkar in which Akthar bowled him for the first delivery, he delivered to the batsman.
In 2002, he was chosen in an attack in Pakistan’s fast bowling against Australia, and success achieved. However, a weak performance during the World Cup Cricket in 2003, and after the tournament he was dropped from the squad of Pakistan. He was re-determine the back of the Pakistan team in a series of tests match against New Zealand in 2004, but struggled in a series of experiments lost to India in 2004. Ended the series with the controversy when he left the field, citing the injury leads to suspicions by former Pakistan captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, for his commitment to the team. As a result, deteriorated his relationship with Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer former. Committee was formed by the Medical Council to investigate the Pakistani cricket in the nature of his injury, but officials dispelled all doubts Pakistan.
In 2005, Akhtar has regained his reputation as a quick effort for his team. Played in a series of three home tests against England, and made a series of presentations bowling impressive. Proved effective use of slower deliveries to be unplayable by English batsmen. I choose to take emerged as the highest wicket of the series with 17 wickets. It was his return as it was remarkable, as before his return, had criticized and angles, like all of John Elliott and Chairman of the Worcestershire position known to him and lack of commitment to the team. He also recognized his performance by the English captain Michael Vaughan, who noted “I thought he (Shoaib) was a large difference between the two teams.” It is also known that aimed to break the barrier of 100 miles per hour in the history of bowling and cricket, with the birth from 100.2 miles per hour, and such delivery in the stands as the fastest on record.
On October 29, 2007 made his return to the most dangerous game of cricket, from a 13-match ban and a good performance, with 4 wickets for 43 runs against South Africa in the fifth and determine the one-day international series in Lahore in Pakistan. After that, he was included in Pakistan squad man (16) of the 2007 tour of India, which ended successfully without the occurrence of other accidents and injuries.
In May 2010, PCB named Akhtar in a list of 35 probables for the Asia Cup. On 15 June 2010, Akhtar made his return to International cricket, taking 3 wickets for 28 runs in the first match of the Asia Cup against Sri Lanka.
England county cricket
Akhtar has played in three English county cricket clubs, including Somerset in 2001, Durham in 2003 and 2004 and Worcestershire in 2005. He did achieved his moments of success, such as taking 5 wickets for 35 runs for Durham against Somerset in the National League in 2003 and claiming 6 wickets for 16 runs in the same competition for Worcestershire against Glamorgan two years later, but he suffered from fitness problems, as well as a perception that he was less than interested in his task. This was particularly the case at Worcestershire: chairman John Elliott said “Players like that are no good to our club. In fact, Akhtar has been no good for any club he’s been at. He’s a superstar and just does what he wants.”
Indian Premier League
Akhtar made a successful return to cricket in his first game in the Indian Premier League, playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders against the Delhi Daredevils. Defending a low score of 133 runs, Akhtar took four top order wickets which ultimately led to the Daredevils being restricted to 110 runs. He ended with figures of 4 wickets for 11 runs from three overs, a performance which earned him the player of the match award. Akhtar denied that he had any point to prove with his performance, stating, “I just wanted to win the game.” Knight Riders’ captain Sourav Ganguly also acknowledged Akhtar’s performance, “He came to the country with lots [of things] happening behind him…But he showed a lot of character.” It has been widely reported that the Knight Riders have released Akhtar from his contract due to his injury history but the Knight Riders’ officials have denied these reports and said they are still in talks with the fast bowler.
Comparison with Imran Khan
Shoaib is often compared to Imran Khan for his winning attitude on and off the field. His performance on the field has helped Pakistan win a number of matches. Off the field too his record is quiet phenomenal. In his words, “I have thousands of girlfriends-although I suppose I should just call them friends. I think they are little more than fans. In the last few months I had to change my Telephone number 20 times because they (female fans) got hold of it. It’s absolute madness in Pakistan. If I go out all the women rush towards me in order to have a chat, they grab me and at times even tear off my clothes.” So it won’t be surprising to learn that the former (playboy) cricketer Imran Khan is Shoaib’s inspiration and mentor. Shoaib loves being compared to his idol.
Life before becoming a cricketer
Before becoming a cricketer Shoaib was a wild, irresponsible and reckless lad who always got into trouble, fighting in streets or running after girls. In his words, “ I didn’t have to work so I would just roam around on my Kawasaki 750 motorbike. I was totally carefree. I wasn’t a very nice guy, infact I was nasty and bad. I was always getting into fights-usually over women. I was a real street fighter. People didn’t like me at all.” Shoaib has a nine-inch scar across his chest and a lot more wounds down his legs. He further added, “I even carried a gun though for my own safety. I would never shoot anyone, but would fire in the air in order to scare the enemies. My mother was always worried about me. At times she slapped me and said, “I am not happy with you. You better be a good man.” And see her wish has come true. Now my mother is very proud of me and wishes me luck before every Match.”
Views on Marriage
Shoaib prefers to have an arranged Marriage. He wants a fair complexioned, simple, clean woman who cares for him, his family and finances. She should be a good housekeeper and not a money waster. As per him, “The woman who run after me presently cannot be trusted because they are attracted towards my fame and not because they love me as an individual. But if I really fell in love before my marriage is arranged then I will follow my heart and marry the woman I love. But if this happened my mother will never forgive me and I would never be able to convince her for accepting the marriage.” Shoaib gets a lot of female attention but is confident that the only woman he will concentrate on would be his wife.
GOD’s Importance in his life
Shoaib gives credit to GOD for whatever he is today. In his words, “ My mother didn’t want me to play cricket. She wanted me to finish my studies and look for a good job but I guess God had something else for me. He wanted me to play for my country so he picked me out of so many. I really think it was his will.”
How did cricket come about for you? Who was your inspiration?
Basically Imran was the inspiration and this really got me started. I was in England at that time and I started playing cricket when I was 17. Just like that, I didn’t really plan anything. It just happened and happened so quickly that I never really even knew about it myself.
The fact that you’ve got flat feet and you were unable to walk during the early years of your life, how did you overcome this difficulty so much so that you became the fastest bowler in the world?
Well, that’s how I was born and that’s how I was supposed to be. I just accepted it that way. I started walking when I was 4-years-old. I don’t know the reason why I started to walk then and why I couldn’t walk before. It’s all God’s grace and it’s because of him that I made it so big.
Brett Lee and you have been compared a lot with each other as the world’s fastest bowlers. Have you ever consciously competed against him in terms of bowling speed?
No. I broke the record anyway but my intentions have never been that I have to be faster than him or anyone else. I never take it as a competition and one should not take it as a competition. It’s about winning the match for the country not about competition between two players.
Do you enjoy Test cricket more or one-day?
Both. I like one-days but I also enjoy Test matches. Most of the time it depends on how you feel. When you are in good form you enjoy every game. I just enjoy my game. I don’t play for one-day or Test, I play for my country and that means the most to me.
You’ve mostly been praised for your speed rather than your wicket-taking ability at crucial times. Do you find that unfair?
Very unfair. People do take me as a match-winner but there is this fascination with speed which excites people more than the fact that I’m taking wickets.
Would you want that to change?
Well, that’s something I can’t change, can I? That’s the way it is. Besides, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.
Most fast bowlers have an aggressive body language. In your case does this natural aggression help you in performing better?
I’m naturally aggressive on the field, not off the field. I’m a very easygoing person. I enjoy talking to kids. I like socializing with people. But when you are on the field playing for the country, it’s not easy to make it up. At that time, winning the match for the country is all that matters. Aggression comes out naturally then.
How did you feel when your bowling action was declared suspect by ICC, though it cleared up in the end?
It was the worst nightmare for me. I’ve been able to pull myself out of it and now I don’t like looking back at that phase of my life.
What is the most memorable moment of your cricketing career?
It hasn’t happened as yet. I’ve dreamt about it but it’s yet to come so let’s see what happens.
How do you assess your fitness for the coming series against England? Do you think you are fit enough for both the Test matches and the one-dayers?
Well, they asked me not to play in the England one-day and Test match series (last year) but I just wanted to play. I kept playing and kept hurting myself. Then I had a fracture in my left ankle. Now I’m struggling with my fitness at the moment but I think it would be okay within two weeks time.
How do you plan to prepare yourself for the 2007 World Cup?
No, I don’t plan like that. I believe that it is more important to work hard for tomorrow not the day after tomorrow. Just make sure you work hard today and put in all your effort, in this way the future will also be taken care of. That’s the way I take my life on a daily basis, to be honest.
If, during a match, you have a strategy in your mind which is different from that of the captain, which one would you go for?
If you have a better plan than that of the captain’s then you can discuss it with him but obviously you have to get the captain involved in it. I think you need to communicate really well with your captain and your team. Besides, the captain doesn’t make his own individual decisions. He makes his decisions keeping in mind the suggestions and strategies of the players.
How do you react to people’s comments about your playboy image?
It’s all a media-created thing. I’m a very quiet person and since I’ve moved to Lahore I don’t really hang out that much. I like doing adventurous things but the media misrepresents them. I don’t react to such comments. It doesn’t bother me much now.
What sort of crazy fans have you come across and what is the craziest thing they’ve done?
I cant tell you that…(laughs). Well, I’ve had many crazy fans throughout the world and they do crazy things but I can’t mention them…(laughs again)
Tell me about any particular crazy Pakistani fans?
Well, they run after the car. Besides that all the old stuff that fans do, that keeps on happening. I think they should bring something new now. (laughs)