Friday, 7 September 2007

Dump the rogue: Cricket would be better off without Shoaib Akhtar

Geoff Lawson can’t be faulted if he packs his bag and catches the first available flight to Australia. After all, this was his first assignment with the Pakistani cricket team and what a way to begin!

Shoaib Akhtar, that rogue in flannel, has been sent home from Johannesburg for using the long handle that has left his new ball partner Mohammad Asif with a bruised thigh. Instead of playing in the Twenty20, the erratic ‘Rawalpindi Express’ will now be cooling his heels, admiring his supreme talent to run into trouble.

"I'm human and made a mistake in the heat of the moment. Asif said something to me that made me lose my temper. I apologised to him, but I was very upset," Shoaib told a channel.

And before one could doubt him being sincerely apologetic, Shoaib himself shatters the illusion when he compares his conduct with Zinedine Zidane’s headbutting of Marco Materazzi in the soccer World Cup final.

Now Pakistan Cricket Board might be interested in finding if Asif said something about Shamaila, Shoaib's sister.

PCB has already slapped an indefinite ban on the perennial controversy-courting speedster but it seems already too late. Shoaib has been both the ‘Rog’ and rogue in the Pakistan dressing room. He was more interested in tantrums than performance. Here you had a player who was so engrossed in putting up a show that he never hesitated to sacrifice team’s interest to achieve that.

Bob Woolmer, may he rest in peace in a world devoid of the likes of Shoaib, cried hoarse but could not convince the narcissist in Shoaib to cut down on his spectacular, and nothing else, run up, which often resulted in slow over rate for the side. Seduced by the speed-gun, Shoaib never felt for the colours he donned.

PCB had its share of the blame too. Shoaib would not sweat out with the team in the nets; would have his own physio -- Tauseef Razzaq – with him. Spoilt to the core and shamelessly pampered by a patronizing PCB, Shoaib gradually started believing he was bigger than the team.

Shoaib has proved a dismal disgrace not only for Pakistan, but the game of cricket as well. His very presence in the dressing room has been embarrassing for his captain (ask Inzamam) and depressing for the youngsters. His selfish approach to the game has scuttled many a team strategy and PCB would do well to permanently slam the door on the crook and breathe easy.

Image: AFP

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