Shoaib Akhtar, former Pakistan tearaway fast bowler, still laments the late start to his international career as he feels he lost his ‘peak’ time during his initial years as selectors continued to overlook him in favor of other bowlers.
Shoaib Akhtar burst on the scene during the Rawalpindi Test against the West Indies in 1997 and within no time, he impinged himself as one of the fastest bowlers world cricket has ever seen. But, according to Shoaib, he was even quicker in the preceding years leading to his international debut.
The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ went on to reveal how he impressed the likes of former South African opener Gary Kirsten with his raw pace as a net bowler during the Proteas 1994 tour of Pakistan.
Akhtar revealed that Gary Kirsten and Jonty Rhodes had asked him to bowl in the nets, to which he had replied- ‘Yes sir, I can do that for you [and] very soon, you’ll remember me.
‘Very soon, you’ll remember me’- Shoaib Akhtar recalls his conversation with Gary Kirsten and Jonty Rhodes
The former fast bowler added that Gary was so impressed with his skills that he was surprised by the fact that he wasn’t in the Pakistan team. He revealed that Kirsten was even ready to vouch for his talent in the Pakistan dressing room but ultimately the selectors didn’t budge and gave him an opportunity three years later.
“I became a net bowler for the South Africans. So the South Africans came up to me, I remember very clearly, there is one gentleman called Gary Kirsten, and Jonty Rhodes. They said, ‘Would you like to be a good net fast bowler against us?’ I said, ‘Yes sir, I can do that for you [and] very soon, you’ll remember me, Told that I’ll be playing against you guys.’ They said, ‘So, how’s that?’ And I just asked them to face me,” Shoaib Akhtar revealed on the ‘Test Match Special Podcast’
“I then bowled a couple of balls at Gary Kirsten and he said, ‘Oh my Lord, you should have been in the team rather than in the nets.’ I asked if I’m capable enough to be a great fast bowler. He said, ‘You must be kidding me. I am going to vouch for you in the Pakistan dressing room that you should play.’ And Pakistan, what they did is play me four years later. So, I lost my peak there,” he added.
Akhtar went on to play 14 years of international cricket for Pakistan. He played a total of 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is, claiming 444 wickets.