Shoaib Akhtar: A farewell to the Rawalpindi Express

Published: March 18, 2011
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Paceman Shoaib Akhtar looks on during a press conference in Colombo. PHOTO: AFP

As a boy, I was an avid athlete who played basketball, table-tennis and did sprint running.  But it was my passion for cricket that defined me.

I started playing first-class cricket at the age of 16 and made it to the under-19 Karachi squad when I was 18-years-old. I always imagined myself as a cricketer. Nothing else appealed to me.

Unfortunately, I sustained a major knee injury in a practice session which tore my ligament. This meant I could no longer play the game I love so dearly.

When a sportsman gives up his career, no matter how big or small, it’s a blow that is difficult to endure.

Yesterday, when I heard that Shoaib Akhtar has decided to retire, I couldn’t help going down memory lane to revive my feelings about my loss. I was devastated.

I have decided to retire. Mentally I wanted to go on forever but I have decided to make way for youngsters.

I have no regrets. I made lots of friends but some people have misunderstood me. I thank all players who played with me and against me (Shoaib Akhtar, Pakistani fast-bowler)

Shoaib Akhtar’s loss is incomparable to any other.

Never has there been a bowler of Akhtar’s stature to march the battlefields team Pakistan has fought on. He has been the source of inspiration for many young cricketers and devoted fans. He is the man who has cracked many helmets and dealt many bruises to batsmen around the world, including the great Brian Lara. His capabilities are unmatched and on his best day, he is any batsman’s worst nightmare.

He made his international debut in 1997, took 178 wickets in 46 Tests, with the last coming against India in 2007.

He also has 247 ODI wickets from 163 games. His record may not be promising but his performances speak for themselves. In 2002, Shoaib took five wickets for 21 runs in a test match against Australia. He bowled ferociously at staggering speeds of 95 miles per hour when he ripped an in-swinging delivery to bowl out Adam Gilchrist between his legs as he fell to the ground – a sight esteemed and relished by only fast bowlers. I will never forget that moment.

Shoaib Akhtar will be remembered as a force to reckon with. He is the epitome of pace and fearless bowling as he sets a towering standard for all those bowlers who eye a position on the Pakistan team.

His talents and presence shall be missed by cricket fans all over the world.

I take this opportunity to wish him the best ahead of his retirement and only hope that he achieves the same enormity of milestones in life as he has in cricket.

Zunair Ali

Zunair Ali

A sub editor on the Sports desk of The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.