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'Undoubtedly the quickest, the meanest'
Part four: Allan Donald on the most intimidating bowlers he has seen: Shoaib Akhtar, the speed demon
Produced by: Gokul Chakravarthy; Interviewer: Nagraj Gollapudi
June 4, 2013
'Undoubtedly the quickest, the meanest'June 4, 2013
Shoaib was undoubtedly the quickest, the meanest. The 1999 World Cup - Shoaib Akhtar arrived on the scene. The first game I watched, in my hotel room, where he yorked Adam Gilchrist [Steve Waugh] at 97 miles an hour.
I just thought that this kid is going to be a handful in this World Cup. You've got Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar - comfortably the best three quicks on display in the World Cup in 1999.
Shoaib had an enormously long run-up. Bob Woolmer always used to say that it was a waste of energy. He could easily have come off a shorter run-up. But I think Shoaib's ego was far too big for anybody to tell him any differently, because for him it was a big thing - running that far. Jacques Kallis [would say] that he'd often take guard and wait for Shoaib to turn at the back of his mark and he just wait and waited and waited until the next ball was delivered.
But my goodness he was quick, he was seriously quick. And again, another young Pakistani bowler who could bowl yorkers at will. [There are] not that many batsmen in world cricket who could play the hook shot against him. I think the other two [Wasim and Waqar], you could still at times get hold of them, but Shoaib was skiddy. He wasn't a tall man, so it was a skiddy bouncer and it was very, very quick. You had to know your story with him. You had to choose the right ball to try and play the horizontal shot.
But he had everything. He had presence. He was a mean man. Look, he was absolutely ego-driven, that he was going to run all over you. And I think out of the three, definitely the quickest, not necessarily the most skillful, but not far away.
He had an action that was almost like he was getting ready to throw a javelin, because he sort of turned himself sideways a little bit, and then that slingy action at the end where the ball tailed in. He got 5 for 11 in a spell of 11 overs in Durban in which he blew South Africa away, and it was a Test that they won. He knocked over Lance Klusener and the stumps were everywhere. Thank goodness I faced him in the last ball of his spell. And it was absolutely blown. That, to me, was one of the best balls I've seen.
He hit Gary [Kirsten] hard in Lahore [in 2003]. Gary went for a hook shot and missed it and the ball went straight through. Gary actually spoke about that very recently and [said] it was the dumbest thing he's ever done - trying to hook him on one of the flattest wickets in the world. But that's what Shoaib is capable of doing. He made very great use of the new ball on a flat wicket. And then we all knew what he was capable of doing with the old ball because of the reverse swing.
But he was intimidating. He was very intimidating. I would actually say that out of the three of them, Shoaib Akhtar was the most intimidating bowler.
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