Cricketers pick their favourites

'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


Shoaib Akhtar

'Undoubtedly the quickest, the meanest'

June 4, 2013

Shoaib Akhtar bowls in the nets, Colombo, March 17, 2011
Shoaib Akhtar: could decimate your stumps © AFP

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.

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 21:07 GMT)

At his fastest, an absolute menace for sure, and frankly far more threatening than Lee. Tremendous to watch for anyone who likes bowlers to make even the best batsmen tremble in fear.

The only caveat is that he never really had the stamina for sustained spells of hostility that would have made him a true great of the game.

Posted by shinewindies on (June 5, 2013, 15:01 GMT)

One of the unsung heroes of modern cricket, a true legend who is up there with all time greats of the game, although i am Indian i just loved watching him bowl,

i myself have played some state level cricket in India and during my early days i always tried to bowl like him with a sideways action and a long run up.

According to me Shoaib is way above Steyn leave alone Andersen( just dont go with the records books much) two premier fast bowlers of modern times.

Along with SHOAIB AKHTAR miss people like LEE, BOND, WAQAR and DONALD himself people who were fast with long run ups and at the same time skillful as well. Guess such breed has now gone extinct.

Hope to see sumone soon like them for the sake of Cricket.

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 12:35 GMT)

Donald said that Shoaib bowled gilchrist in the 99 world cup of a yorker but that didnt happen. In the group game wasim akram bowled gilly and in the final saqlain got him out. Shoaib was just awesome and he kept the Pakistani tradition of tearaway quicks strong. He lived life to the fullest and had the best attitude to the game.

Posted by rahul.singh on (June 5, 2013, 10:59 GMT)

Most cricket fans would buy a match ticket (i certainly will) to watch Shoab Akthar bowl one over in full steam in any form of cricket....

Posted by mudassarbukhari1975 on (June 5, 2013, 4:59 GMT)

1999 World Cup Shoaib Akhtar is biggest bowler. Shoaib Akhtar is first time played world cup and pakistan team reached Final.Geoff Allot only 1999 world cup top.Other series not play and no performance.

Posted by somethingdifferent on (June 5, 2013, 4:15 GMT)

It is absolutely correct that he was the quickest and most menacing of the three but on the other hand he was the least crafty among the three as well, and tended to waste a lot of deliveries. He had the capability to achieve even greater heights but correctly said that his ego was so big that he would not reduce his run up or improve his fitness to maintain his pace and quality of bowling for longer spells. But perhaps all genuine pace bowlers ( except may be Malcom Marshall or Donald himself) be it Thomson, Holding, Bret Lee and Shoaib did not last that long to achieve the level of success of Hadlee or Lillee or McGrath or Walsh or Kapil Dev.

Posted by david44 on (June 5, 2013, 3:45 GMT)

Simply pace at it's best the way he came running in was just nerve wrecking for any batsman, he was a tough opponent and he owned tendulker on the very first ball that he bowled at him the result was clean bowled

Posted by riz309 on (June 5, 2013, 1:26 GMT)

A genuine fast and aggressive bowler and he loved doing that, he showed the pavilion to tendulker 10 times out of 17 encounters that they had with each other in all formats of the game the bouncer which flatten lara in jamaica (not to degrade tendulker and lara) just to say he loved to compete against the best in business .

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 0:50 GMT)

To know how mean a bowler is to face him, and yes I couldn't agree more on this fellow. But let me add something on Wes.Hall of West Indies. This demon walked almost walked from the other end to unleash his ( I think he jerked) misile at alomost 90 miles and there were no head gears then. And if you will ask Ijzaz Butt, the latter PCB chief, as to what happend to his face. He will tell you that facing Hall in a Lahore test ( I think i958), in trying to hook him he was carried off the field on the stretcher.

Then there is the beauty to speed, the invincible Ray Lindwall - a magaic of a run up, and then another latter much like him, Waqar Younis of Pakistan. Those were some good days of cricket even with all its faults. Sounds good!!!

Draft type.

Posted by AussieGreek on (June 5, 2013, 0:41 GMT)

Was an amazing fast bowler, him at full pace bowling with reverse swing was unplayable. Of particular note was i think his second to last game in the world cup against sri lanka he bowled a ball just after he got a wicket at approximately 162 km/hr and went un noticed by the commentators. Amazing.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 21:21 GMT)

He was a charm of cricket.. people use to come to ground just to watch him bowling , how many speed start world has produced so far , so he was truly a legend ..any bowler who can bowl over 95 mph is my favorite and unfortunately we don't have many .. so i miss u a lot shoib akhtar ..

Posted by vpk23 on (June 4, 2013, 17:35 GMT)

The Presence!!...Truly...He could walk the talk too!!! 100mps / hr...Phew!!

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 16:46 GMT)

He was simply menacing while at his prime. He was like Virender Sehwag . He came, he saw, he conquered but then perished rather quickly just like Sehwag.

Posted by analyseabhishek on (June 4, 2013, 15:57 GMT)

Amazing character and an absolute freak! Shoaib's action made one believe that they could also double their pace if they bowled with that action! Pity he got tangled by fame and his own fitness- he deserved to take at least 300 test wickets. It would have meant a lot more memorale outings.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

At last someone appreciate the class and skills of the world fastest bowler and to some of my INDIANS FRIENDS let reminde you that no doubt Sachin is one of the great batsman in world cricket but even one of the great himself were scared on one occasion in Karachi (I think) when a loaded gun of bouncer were targeting him (sachin) and the rest we all knowhow he walked out without even looking to the umpire

Posted by xylofon on (June 4, 2013, 14:31 GMT)

Bowled Sachin on the first ball delivered to Sachin by Akhtar. Youtube it. You´ll find it.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 14:25 GMT)

But still he got clobbered by Tendulkar in that very World Cup.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 14:22 GMT)

Akhtar's spell at Gabba in the final of an ODI series was the mirage of quality pace bowling. Just can't get the image of Akhtar coming round the wicket to a left handed batsman with his action slinging to get more pace and then hitting the base of middle stump, out of my mind. Some beautiful childhood memories! Of course on his bad day he bowled as bad as any one but my god on his good day, nobody could ever match him. He had a special liking for Kiwis as proved by his unbelievable repeated outings in WC99, Lahore test and ODI's, in Auckland. Him sledging Hayden and Indian batsmen..So much to savor! His match winning spell against Eng in Multan where he sent two stumps of Giles for a walk . I hope we get to see someone in future who possess the same fierce aggression along with 160kph speed. Today we praise bowlers who even clock 145. Just imagine what pearls we had who bowled around 160..woahh!

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 14:14 GMT)

@ MansoorKoondhar : hat trick??? r u sure????

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 14:11 GMT)

I am thoroughly privileged to have witness Shoaib Akhtar in his prime. You don't see someone bowling close to 160kph everyday. I remember very clearly the excitement we used to feel when Akhtar started to run from his bowling mark and the crowd's volume meter went skywards with him approaching the bowling crease. His ability to take the pitch out of the equation with his sheer pace is something not to be seen anywhere else. Who can forget that test at Lahore where Inzi had just racked up 329 and then Akhtar showed up on a docile pitch and bowled one Kiwi after another right through the defenses, stumps flying all over and NZ bowled out for 72 on a motorway. His rivalry with Hayden on successive tours to Aus and him getting better of Hayden almost every time. His spell in Colombo against Aus where he single highhandedly bowled Aus out in less than a session. And mind you those weren't mediocre batsmen, he comprehensively bowled Waugh brothers, Ponting, Gilchrist and Hayden.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 11:03 GMT)

Just one word "LEGEND"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 10:34 GMT)

Not only a fast bowler but a fabulous personality an arrogant attitude towards the game and ultra frienldy off the field. Probably the only one who world believe will be missed the most.

Posted by StevieS on (June 4, 2013, 9:35 GMT)

Err no Geoff Allott was the best bowler in the 99 world cup and by some distant.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

Alan was more classy and mean bowler than Shoaib

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 8:54 GMT)

The deadliest trio world has ever saw..... Shoaib was quick and intimidating!!!

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 8:46 GMT)

he was a classy bowler. But one thing stuck in my mind is where Klusener took all the Pakistani bowlers in the 1999 worldcup to the cleaners. He pulled Shoaib for a huge six. he took him on and succeeded. But still Shoaib was a fearsome bowler. Ricky ponting pulling him in a test in Australia when he was bowling 153km/h on the MCG.

Posted by Massey_T on (June 4, 2013, 8:31 GMT)

yeah but only for a short time though. Can never match Waqar and not even close to Wasim in the long run...being effective i mean. Fear was created more yes. But then again, only for a short duration. After that it was the same story of injuries, lack of form, disciplinary action, blasted out of park etc. Thereby ceiling his status of not being hailed among the best in the business (in the long run). Being effective is the ability to be numero uno and take wickets for a long time.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 7:56 GMT)

Fast bowler in real sense ..others are just Medium fast..A rare talent wasted by PCB....Difficult to forget Akhtar and Afridi.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 6:50 GMT)

Ah! Shoaib getting the right credit ---- due to right reasons this time.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 6:47 GMT)

No doubt, Shoaib was great fast bowler. He had all the things that a real fast bowler should have. Now a days, who bowl 80 mph, called fast bowler. Only Shoaib could bowl 90 mph he should be regarded as a super fast bowler..

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 6:35 GMT)

Akhtars aggression cant be matched..He was a nightmare fer the batamen!!

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 6:34 GMT)

Absolutely deadly ... He was one of the best bowlers Pakistan has ever produced ....

Posted by MansoorKoondhar on (June 4, 2013, 6:13 GMT)

A rare talent wasted by himself and the Cricket board. And a bowler like that played the last match without knowing it was going to b his last. Very harsh. being extemely dejected he never returned to cricket even to the T20 colorful leagues suiting him the most. I bet if he were in this IPL he would have been the charm of it.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 5:55 GMT)

Shoaib is Shoaib... there was and there will be none like him..

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (June 4, 2013, 5:34 GMT)

Tendulkar must be having music ringing in his head after that fearful clonk Shoaib in Karachi '06 dealt with a brutal 153 kph bumper that landed well behind S/Leg Ump . Along with Lee the real shining jewel in express pace bowling in recent memory . No one at present match the sheer vice and thrill they gave while bowling and no 1 will in future as well , I think .

Posted by S-OMAIR-ASHRAF on (June 4, 2013, 5:02 GMT)

ALL time Fastest and Dangerous Bowler :-)

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 4:45 GMT)

I do remember Sachin hooking him for six in Karachi. Probably the only instance of anyone successfully hooking him. Sachin and Shoaib had some emorable battles. Shoaib uprooting his stumps in Eden. Sachin paying back the favour in Hobart (4 successive boundaries) and Centurion (the massive upper cut for six). Shoaib exploiting Sachin;s tennis elbow and bouncing him out in Faisalabad; Sachin returning the favour in Delhi in 2007 by smashing him all round Kotla on the 5th day morning session and taking India home.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 4:19 GMT)

surely one the most deadly bowler ,i mean a fearsome bowler who had terrified every batsmen by his deedly bouncers.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2013, 3:31 GMT)

My favorite player is shoaib akthar, i like these out of out pacers ,when he was running to deliver a ball and the backing he was getting from spectators ,shoaib shoiab.... oh my word this one heck of sight i loved most about ckt. I am following ckt. only due to these kind of beast of pacers i,e Akthar ,waqar, donald ,lee, bond and co. Ckt. is all about these pacers, who can forget that bouncer of shoiab to the greatest batsman of ckt. world sir Brain charles lara oh my word , shoiab was realy scary ,"""cheeers from j & k"""".

Comments have now been closed for this article

Play Video
'Gupte could bowl any line and length at will'

Aug 26, 2014 Part one: Erapalli Prasanna on his favourite spin bowlers. First up: Subhash Gupte (05:15)

Play Video
'Haven't seen anyone play so straight'

Aug 19, 2014 Part eleven: Martin Crowe on Sachin Tendulkar's finely calibrated footwork, and his positive approach across formats (05:42)

Play Video
Edwards belts 62* off 54

Highlights: England captain Charlotte Edwards top-scored with 62* in a nine-wicket win over South Africa in the first women's T20I at Chelmsford (01:11) | Sep 1, 2014

Play Video
Highlights: England v South Africa, 1st women's T20

Highlights: Full highlights from the first women's T20I at Chelmsford between England and South Africa (04:01) | Sep 1, 2014

Play Video
Morgan can't live on past reputation

Match Preview: Andrew McGlashan looks ahead to the fourth ODI between England and India and asks how long Eoin Morgan can rely on his previous form (01:26) | Sep 1, 2014