You can make anything by writing – CS Lewis
On the ground he was called the problem child and undisciplined, still after retirement Shoaib Akthar has not changed much. He is in storm again with his autobiography “Controversially Yours” but that didn’t help him much in selling the book.
Who can forget Shoaib Akthar’s long run-ups to start his bowling and spreading his hands to celebrate his wickets? There was hardly any batsman who was not scared of him at the peak of his career. And all the things he did on and off the field which keeping him in the news all the time. But today he is not wearing fluorescent green team jersey but in black suit to launch his autobiography. Before he could speak anything on his book it’s already in the news. Sachin Tendulkar was scared of him, match fixing in his team, ball tempering and many more. One thing is sure he loves to be in lime light.
Trying to take control of the situation the Rawalpindi Express says, “Please read the book first and then give a judgment. I have written this book to tell my side of story of everything that has happened with me.” But it seems it is not going to help him much, till now no one is happy with the book except Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik who released the book, the publisher and him. “People are taking a portion of it and create a story out of it, just to create the controversy. If I had to do that I would have given filler to media but not wrote a book. First try to understand the context in which I am talking about. When I was saying Sachin was scared of me I was talking about that particular day. He was having tennis elbow injury and was having problem in pulling and hooking the ball. Please don’t compare me with Sachin Tendulkar, he is a legend of cricket.”
As long as one can remember Shoaib Akthar has always been caught on the wrong side. He was involved many times in ball tempering. “Whether you like it or not it happen everyday and every time. It was there from the beginning just that these days cameras are everywhere. Mud gets on the ball and you have to clean it every time and keep shining on one side of the ball. We call it ‘looking-after’ and it’s an art,” which brought loud roar of laugh in the room.
And how can one forget the relation of Pakistan team with match-fixing. “To some extend there are some wrong doing from the players also. But the situation can be avoided if money is brought into the game. We are supposed to keep the dignity and pride of the country but who is going to take care of player’s needs.” Trying to find out where they went wrong, “Match fixing has always surrounded the team. But things went out of proportion when players went to media and exploited one another. But if we see how the things were handled even the board is wrong.” There was change in the tone while he was speaking, might be he had flash back of his bad days. “There are lots of reasons behind corruption in the game, like one needs proper guidance and grooming. Even if they make mistake, please don’t treat them badly or else they will try to get even when they come back. I saw myself in Md. Amir. It was so heart breaking to see such a young talented player’s career ended like that.”
Though many champions came and touch the glory, there are many bones in Pakistan dressing room’s carpet. Like he mentions an incident where Captain Wasim Akram wanted to go and play with the same combination and didn’t want to try him out in West Indies in 1996. Latter on Wasim went on threaten to resign from the captaincy also. But cleverly Shoaib change the topic with a deceptive yorker, “at least in my team it is inside the room but in your country they started slapping on the ground.” Referring to the incident after an IPL match where Harbhajan Singh slapped Srisanth. “I think Punjabis are more aggressive in nature. I am also Punjabi it is seems our temper level is little bit shaky most of the time.” Good that at least he knows that there is something wrong with his temper. “Main koi farishta toh hunh nahi (I am not a god send angel). I have learned from the beating of the world and mistakes that I have made. But you have to also understand that I left home at the age of fourteen. There was no one to guide me around and I had to channelize my energy myself.”
That took him to his initial stage of career, “From the beginning I had a bad knees so I knew that I have to be accurate and quick before I get worn out. I had in my mind that if I can play 60 – 65 matches then it will be good enough. “From 1996 onwards I started having surgeries. I had to cover it up or else I would be declared unfit. But my pain was growing day by day. I kept playing with my injuries not realizing that it is going to effect latter part of my life. Now I can’t walk straight.” As he said it can be good example for youngster to learn from his experience. “I didn’t know the right techniques to train my self, instead of strengthening it up I was using it up. I was running long hours and then cycle to Pindi stadium and come back.” With a smile he says, “I used to get lots of scolding from my parents. Even the girls of my locality used to make fun of me, dekho ullu ka padha khahn jaa raha hai itni karmi mai (look where that foolish is going again in this hot summer).”
It was never a joy ride for him. He candidly shares the moments where for trail he had to travel in the bus roof as he didn’t have money for the fare. Then he mentions the incident with tanga-wala Aziz Khan who gave him shelter for the night and ride up to the stadium when he came to Lahore for trail. “He told me to come back and search for him when I become famous. I did and he was still there. But he insisted to buy me food as he did the same that night.” These are some incidents which bring out the other side of him which we missed out.
At the end there was a bouncer that he mange to handle properly. So as bowler was he scared of any body? “Yes it was really tough to ball Sachin in any given day. And there was Inzamaam bhai whom I never got out even in the net. The harder I bowl to him the harder he hits me back. On that now he has grown beard so now I am more scared as I have to think about Islam also. In Ricky pointing I found a tough competitor.” No matter what this fastest bowler won’t be forgotten very soon. He will always be controversially Shoaib Akhtar.