Friday, 7 December 2007

Shoaib Akhtar: From Tantrum Thrower To Team Man

Even George W Bush making an air dash to a hideout in Afghanistan (or is it Pakistan!) to bury the hatchet and embrace Osama Bin Laden – provided the latter has survived the carpet bombing – seemed a possibility.

But place your hand on your heart and say, did you ever expect this? Well, bye bye Pakistan’s prankster-in-chief, champion tantrum-thrower and welcome Shoaib Akhtar, the perfect team man.

I remember Sourav Ganguly – his head did not resemble a sub-continent pitch those pre-Chappell days – revealing in a TV show about his interaction with Inzamam. According to Ganguly, Inzi rued that tackling the unruly Shoaib used to sap half his energy.

Considering that, Inzi surely did a great job as a half-captain, isn’t it?

Well those are things of past. Things have changed and see how. I was rubbing my eyes in disbelief ever since Shoaib arrived for the ongoing tour. He looked a completely different man, almost an imposter in his guise.

The only giveaway was snaps of his nocturnal lifestyle across the Indian metros.

The mean, menacing look has paved way for a refreshing smile. He looked a man completely at peace with himself and it just could not have been better for Pakistan cricket.

While much has been talked about his playing in the Kolkata Test despite not being at the peak of his fitness, the “Rawalpindi Express” revealed it was his call to play in the important tie.

And I am glad I took that decision. It was important for me to send out the message — that I was there for Pakistan.
Coming from Shoaib, you had to read it twice before convincing yourself there is no dropped word or wrong attribution.

But to be honest, Shoaib showed a lion’s heart. Consider you being lying in the hospital bed with chest infection and then going through all the pain just to make yourself available for the team’s cause.

He was seen coughing, puffing at inhalers and going through the pain, just to ensure that he can be there to spearhead a depleted attack against a formidable batting line-up on a hopeless Eden track.

It was a stark contrast to the Shoaib of the past. The narcissist speedster, who was so seduced by the speedgun that he did not hesitate to send team interest for a toss on so many occasions.

Driven by the sole object of establishing himself as the fastest leather-flinger, and just that, he stubbornly refused the then coach Bob Woolmer’s -- may his soul rest in peace – repeated requests to cut down his spectacularly prolonged run-up, which often resulted in slow over-rates.

That Shoaib had started to change, and change for good, was evident in the ODI series during which the pacer was seen bowling with a shortened run-up, on his namesake captain’s request.

Well, whatever may have been the vices, I think Pakistan’s favourite whipping boy finally deserves a pat on the back for the metamorphosis.

I doubt, Shoaib probably realizes that at the fag end of his rollercoaster career, he can’t afford to throw tantrums and play pranks to be sent into wilderness. At 32, a comeback after a forced hiatus is just not possible for a pacer. It’s just too late to risk his career, whatever maybe the provocation.

And Pakistan cricket can consider itself fortunate that its erratic profligate son regained sanity just in time.



Straight Point said...

nice post som!

after the 'bat' episode the time he got gave him the much needed chance to reflect upon his career, approach and the way he would liked to be remembered...and choice was obvious...

its not only good for pak cricket but world cricket too...that we see more of him in filed i.e.

Som said...

Thanks. Yes, Shoaib is a spectators' delight and cricket badly needs character like him to retain interest, isn't it? We have had enough of politically correct diplomats in flannels. let's say, may his tribe increase.