What will Shoaib's drug test prove?
Is it so hard to get a urine sample from Shoaib Akhtar? And when he finally deigns to offer up some bodily fluids what will the test prove? The same applies, of course, to Mohammad Asif.
Nandrolone is broken down reasonably quickly in the body but its metabolites can hang around for months. It is possible that metabolites might still be present in Shoaib's and Asif's urine samples. Provided those levels have dropped to near the threshold set by WADA--which is where you guess they might be if they had decreased in line with the decay curve of nandrolone metabolites--the conclusion is that Shoaib and Asif have been clean since their last test. Under those circumstances talk of life bans seems ridiculous.
On the other hand, two scenarios would cause them a problem. Firstly, if it turns out that the levels are higher than the last test. Secondly, if the result is lower but still high enough to be out of line with the decay curve of nandrolone metabolites. Under either of these scenarios their selection cannot be justified.
The decay curve, unfortunately, varies between individuals, which means that there might be a grey area.
The fact that neither of them has yet taken the test seems incredible, and conspiracy theories were fuelled by Shoaib's outrageous behaviour last week. The obvious concern is that Shoaib knows that the gig is up and is preparing his exit strategy.
But, like Inzamam, he is unlikely to play another World Cup. They have both tasted the bitter failure of 1999. This is no time for exits. It is a time for total commitment. Pakistan's focus must now be on pulling together as a team, putting past stupidity behind them, and ending this period of dispiriting, despicable, and relentless turmoil.
The first step, Mr Akhtar, is to stop taking the piss and start giving it.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here