Former Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar recalled verbal duels he had with former Aussie openers, Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden. Akhtar is known to be a fiery customer, often engaging in spats on-field to taunt his opponents.
Apart from express pacers, his intimidation tactics stretched beyond cricketing battles. Over the years, he has spat with Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, MS Dhoni, and the list go on. Most recently in a chat with Sportskeeda, Akhtar spoke about his ‘conversations’ with the Aussie opening duo.
“I pulled my hamstring in the 2004 series against Australia and I wasn’t running well. I had a heated argument with (Matthew) Hayden at breakfast and I said to him – ‘I won’t leave you.’ I took his wicket in both innings of the test match after which he struggled with his Test form,” Akhtar claimed.
In the same series, the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ continued to bowl despite his hamstring troubles. During one of the matches, Langer had a few nasty words to say to the ace bowler. Akhtar retorted stating that he would injure the left-hander.
“Justin Langer played a very forceful drive that hurt Afridi on his hand and he (Langer) also said something to me, which made me very angry and I said to Langer – ‘I will make sure that I’m gonna hurt you.’”
“I did hit him on the hand. In the whole match, neither he got out, nor I gave up. While I was struggling with the painful hamstring injury, I still put up the fight and bowled as fast as I could,” he added.
“Gilchrist suggested Langer not to pick a fight with me” – Shoaib Akhtar
Another Aussie opener Adam Gilchrist recommended Langer to supposedly stay away from Shoaib Akhtar. There have been instances where Akthar brings out the best in him when confronted in a verbal battle and Gilchrist was aware of that.
“Gilchrist suggested Langer not to pick a fight with me or else Akhtar will wake up. Later, I confronted Gilly to find out why he always overlooked me. Gilly told ‘Are you mad, who’s gonna mess up with you. It’s better to see you off and hit other bowlers’,” Akhtar concluded.
Akthar represented Pakistan national team in 46 Tests, 163 ODI’s, and 15 T20I’s. He retired from international cricket in 2011.