April 1, 2008

The final episode in the Shoaib soap opera?

This affair is not a drama anymore, just a series of pathetic jousts between an unruly fool and a succession of inept administrations. Where will it end?
42


Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar were once spoken of together in the same sentence; today they may not share space on the same page © AFP
 

In Pakistan, the rule of the conspiracy theory is complete, possibly because they are so damn good at coming true. It is the grease on which life turns. Pakistan is also a land with no full stops, only commas, brackets and colons, semi and full.

In this land corrupted, exiled politicians can not only not be written off, they can return triumphantly under the charade of national reconciliation, where resignations are sneaky ways to prolong a tenure, where cricketers can admit to doping, be banned and still be reinstated, a land where as former wicketkeeper Rashid Latif says, only the dead cannot be raised again. Here then is another humble conspiracy theory and a sad truth.

Shoaib Akhtar has been banned for five years. Shoaib might very well have his ban overturned soon enough. The beauty of it is, of course, that no one is surprised at his ban and no one will be surprised at its overturning. It happens in Pakistan. It has happened with him before.

Journalists had long ago started whispering among themselves like a gaggle of schoolgirls about Shoaib's attempts to establish contacts within the new government, precisely in event of something like this happening. Before the ink on his ban had dried, he promised to take the battle to court and the member of parliament of his constituency has vowed to bring the matter up in the national assembly.

A new government also means, inevitably, chit-chat about a new cricket administration and if and when there is change, it is the way of Pakistan that all that has gone before is forgotten, if not completely wiped away.

It is the way of Pakistan cricket that no decision, no policy can ever be said to be truly fair and without holes. Is this punishment not too harsh for his latest transgression, which essentially is a verbal blast at the board's policies? After all, he was banned for two years for taking steroids. He now gets five because he pointed out - justifiably as it happens - that the board is run by a group of incompetents?

Perhaps the decision was taken in context of his past, in particular the fact that he was on a two-year probation, a breach of which would automatically result in a life ban? Then why give him five years and not life as had been loudly stated? And in any case, at his age, it is a life ban, so why call a spade a hammer? He was also not a contracted player at the time of the offense having refused to sign the retainership he had been offered. He is not, thus, bound by the code of conduct he is accused of breaking. Already legal eagles are rubbing their hands.

 
 
What does Shoaib leave behind? Nothing really. No legacy; only a blighted, wasted career and a warning to future players on what not to become, and to future administrations on how not to deal with a player
 

But if we play it straight - briefly if ill-advisedly - and believe that he is forever gone, what does Shoaib leave behind? Nothing really. No legacy; only a blighted, wasted career and a warning to future players on what not to become, and to future administrations on how not to deal with a player.

Little needs to be said about his bowling, though perhaps misquoting Marlon Brando from 'On the Waterfront' does it best: he coulda been somebody, he coulda been a great instead, he's just a headline. Forty-six Tests in 11 years is pitiful and barely a basis on which to judge a player. Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar were once spoken of together in the same sentence; today they may not share space on the same page.

A lot more probably needs to be examined about his person though this is not easy, for he has never been easy to read. He is capable of magnanimity, of grand-hearted gestures, selflessness and still the occasional stirring physical act. Yet he is equally capable of barely believable recklessness, stupidity, recurring physical frailty and stark contradiction, often in the same breath. He is, alas, only human.

But how much longer, ultimately, can and should anyone put up with this tiresome, cyclical piffle? Shoaib screws up, PCB warns, Shoaib reacts, PCB punishes, Shoaib appeals, PCB relents: the most inane soap operas offer more entertainment and surprise. It is not a drama anymore, just a series of pathetic jousts between an unruly fool and a succession of inept administrations. Where will it end? Where did it even begin? Not now, maybe not next year, but soon hopefully will come a comma, a semi-colon and these things might start to matter a little less.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rantingraj on April 4, 2008, 6:28 GMT

    You write well and what you say makes a lot of sense. But there is one thing about Shoaib that no one can deny - he is great to watch. I love it when he charges in from his long run-up and bowls at the speeds he does. It's a thrill when he bowls those huge in-swinging yorkers or his bouncers. He is one of the bigger attractions in cricket, and I personally hope that he does take part in the IPL so that we can see him bowling once more.

  • FAUOwl on April 4, 2008, 2:48 GMT

    I hope they turn the verdict. I hope he comes back. I hope he matures. I hope he plays like a gentleman. I hope he realizes that he has but a few years. I hope he returns to spice up cricket world. I want to see Bret Lee and Shoaib go at it one last time, for that would make history.

    Can some one give him this message? Can some one tell him, to be written among legends he has to correct his wrongs? Can some one tell him to be a legend he has to be humble? Can some one wake him up? Alas! Can someone wake me up?

  • w_e_s_s on April 3, 2008, 11:36 GMT

    Whenever he was ruled out or dropped, he always came back with better performances. Every fast bowler gets injuries, but difference between him and others is clear; there is a decline in others' performances after injuries, but in his case injuries doesn't seem to affect his performance. How could you waste such an asset? He is more than 30 and still energetic, when fit.

    You look frustrated Osman and quite rightly so. This all has been happening in Pakistan for ages and I think politics should be kept away from the game. Maybe a time will come sooner or later when they will quit playing games where not needed.

  • diteras on April 3, 2008, 11:30 GMT

    Yep Osman you have it. The rest of the world stands back and watches Pakistan beat itself. The point of understanding is somewhere beyond all of our visions. I love Pakistan cricket. Pakistan is the only cricketing nation who could have seriously challenged Australia on a consistant basis over the last twenty years. In any political incarnation, man for man, they have talent and back up talent in buckets. Then along comes ingredient X - which is the very fact that they are who they are and they do what they do in a way which totally and utterly epitomises the dictionary definition of 'inscrutable' Maybe in this case they are very scrutable - a five year ban in Pakistan? Probably the equivilant of a 200 year jail sentence in Texas. If Shoaib doesnt play again, I will, as we say in Yorkshire - ''eat hay with a donkey'' The question - like the Harmison one for England is ''do they really want him too?''

  • Acro on April 3, 2008, 9:08 GMT

    Great article Osman and as you mentioned state of our national cricket is a direct reflection of our country's progress and it is just sad.

  • MasterandCommander on April 3, 2008, 4:04 GMT

    What a beautifully written piece Osman... a pleasure to read. Thank you.

    As for Shoaib, he should pull himself together, play another dozen test against the Black Caps (taking, say, a further 150 wickets at 10.00) and then retire as one of the greats.

  • imrannk on April 2, 2008, 21:57 GMT

    With all due respect, I think you are missing the greater point in your article - that is these puppet board of a dictator should have no right to end anyone's career. I thought that until now Shoaib was doing a fantastic job of destroying himself as a cricketer; however now he can only be considered a victim. Agreed that it is pakistan and phrase "sh$t happens" may be appropriate for this; but this must change and can't be acceptable just because it is pakistan.

  • inzi_yousaf on April 2, 2008, 21:37 GMT

    Shoaib has always caused worries to his fans and team through his fitness issues all the times and never has anyone seen him playing a regular season year without injuries or bans. He is still a need for Pakistan's ever unfit bowling line-up, at least for next 2-3 years till we find a replacement. Asif came to fame and now he has been consistently unfit along with the only remaining bowler Umar Gul. How does the PCB justify degrading a category-A player demoted to not B or C but a class lower at retainership? How does one give Kaneria a reprimand and Shoaib a 5-year ban for same crime?

  • hrithik on April 2, 2008, 20:29 GMT

    Osman.....i seriosly dont agree with u..how can u forget the goods Shoib produced for Pakistan?U might forget his bowling in da 1999 world cup,or da only bowler who took a great bowler such as Sachin in a first ball duck,or u forgot Shoibs bowling against the Aussies and the English players...Ok we know he is aggressive,but the whole Australian team is aggressive so this doesnt mean to ban the whole Aussie team.We know Shoib also have done many mistakes but most of the cases could be handled well.And since this Nasim Ashraf became the chairman of Pakistan we lost many talents such as Imran Nazir,Mohsmmad Sami,Abdul Razzaq....and now an asset to worl cricket the fastest bowler in the history..they should really bring Shoib back if Pakistan is willing to win the champions trophy in pakistan later this year...and u also need shoib to win against countries like India,South Africa,Aussies,etc.And pakistan also doesnt have a replacement of Shoib's speed.So they can't ban him for any reason

  • quby on April 2, 2008, 20:19 GMT

    I agree that the PCB has not handled the Shoaib-saga efficiently and that Shoaib has acted irresponsibly throughout his career. However, I didn't like the idea that how the writer has supported his thoughts by resembling them with the political situation and system in the country. Incidents like these in which the sports authority initially bans the player and later lifts the ban on an appeal are not uncommon. One can easily recall incidents involving Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Darryl Hair and Herschelle Gibbs in which the ban was lifted. Therefore it is inappropriate to criticize and the Pakistani-system. It is a broader world.

  • rantingraj on April 4, 2008, 6:28 GMT

    You write well and what you say makes a lot of sense. But there is one thing about Shoaib that no one can deny - he is great to watch. I love it when he charges in from his long run-up and bowls at the speeds he does. It's a thrill when he bowls those huge in-swinging yorkers or his bouncers. He is one of the bigger attractions in cricket, and I personally hope that he does take part in the IPL so that we can see him bowling once more.

  • FAUOwl on April 4, 2008, 2:48 GMT

    I hope they turn the verdict. I hope he comes back. I hope he matures. I hope he plays like a gentleman. I hope he realizes that he has but a few years. I hope he returns to spice up cricket world. I want to see Bret Lee and Shoaib go at it one last time, for that would make history.

    Can some one give him this message? Can some one tell him, to be written among legends he has to correct his wrongs? Can some one tell him to be a legend he has to be humble? Can some one wake him up? Alas! Can someone wake me up?

  • w_e_s_s on April 3, 2008, 11:36 GMT

    Whenever he was ruled out or dropped, he always came back with better performances. Every fast bowler gets injuries, but difference between him and others is clear; there is a decline in others' performances after injuries, but in his case injuries doesn't seem to affect his performance. How could you waste such an asset? He is more than 30 and still energetic, when fit.

    You look frustrated Osman and quite rightly so. This all has been happening in Pakistan for ages and I think politics should be kept away from the game. Maybe a time will come sooner or later when they will quit playing games where not needed.

  • diteras on April 3, 2008, 11:30 GMT

    Yep Osman you have it. The rest of the world stands back and watches Pakistan beat itself. The point of understanding is somewhere beyond all of our visions. I love Pakistan cricket. Pakistan is the only cricketing nation who could have seriously challenged Australia on a consistant basis over the last twenty years. In any political incarnation, man for man, they have talent and back up talent in buckets. Then along comes ingredient X - which is the very fact that they are who they are and they do what they do in a way which totally and utterly epitomises the dictionary definition of 'inscrutable' Maybe in this case they are very scrutable - a five year ban in Pakistan? Probably the equivilant of a 200 year jail sentence in Texas. If Shoaib doesnt play again, I will, as we say in Yorkshire - ''eat hay with a donkey'' The question - like the Harmison one for England is ''do they really want him too?''

  • Acro on April 3, 2008, 9:08 GMT

    Great article Osman and as you mentioned state of our national cricket is a direct reflection of our country's progress and it is just sad.

  • MasterandCommander on April 3, 2008, 4:04 GMT

    What a beautifully written piece Osman... a pleasure to read. Thank you.

    As for Shoaib, he should pull himself together, play another dozen test against the Black Caps (taking, say, a further 150 wickets at 10.00) and then retire as one of the greats.

  • imrannk on April 2, 2008, 21:57 GMT

    With all due respect, I think you are missing the greater point in your article - that is these puppet board of a dictator should have no right to end anyone's career. I thought that until now Shoaib was doing a fantastic job of destroying himself as a cricketer; however now he can only be considered a victim. Agreed that it is pakistan and phrase "sh$t happens" may be appropriate for this; but this must change and can't be acceptable just because it is pakistan.

  • inzi_yousaf on April 2, 2008, 21:37 GMT

    Shoaib has always caused worries to his fans and team through his fitness issues all the times and never has anyone seen him playing a regular season year without injuries or bans. He is still a need for Pakistan's ever unfit bowling line-up, at least for next 2-3 years till we find a replacement. Asif came to fame and now he has been consistently unfit along with the only remaining bowler Umar Gul. How does the PCB justify degrading a category-A player demoted to not B or C but a class lower at retainership? How does one give Kaneria a reprimand and Shoaib a 5-year ban for same crime?

  • hrithik on April 2, 2008, 20:29 GMT

    Osman.....i seriosly dont agree with u..how can u forget the goods Shoib produced for Pakistan?U might forget his bowling in da 1999 world cup,or da only bowler who took a great bowler such as Sachin in a first ball duck,or u forgot Shoibs bowling against the Aussies and the English players...Ok we know he is aggressive,but the whole Australian team is aggressive so this doesnt mean to ban the whole Aussie team.We know Shoib also have done many mistakes but most of the cases could be handled well.And since this Nasim Ashraf became the chairman of Pakistan we lost many talents such as Imran Nazir,Mohsmmad Sami,Abdul Razzaq....and now an asset to worl cricket the fastest bowler in the history..they should really bring Shoib back if Pakistan is willing to win the champions trophy in pakistan later this year...and u also need shoib to win against countries like India,South Africa,Aussies,etc.And pakistan also doesnt have a replacement of Shoib's speed.So they can't ban him for any reason

  • quby on April 2, 2008, 20:19 GMT

    I agree that the PCB has not handled the Shoaib-saga efficiently and that Shoaib has acted irresponsibly throughout his career. However, I didn't like the idea that how the writer has supported his thoughts by resembling them with the political situation and system in the country. Incidents like these in which the sports authority initially bans the player and later lifts the ban on an appeal are not uncommon. One can easily recall incidents involving Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Darryl Hair and Herschelle Gibbs in which the ban was lifted. Therefore it is inappropriate to criticize and the Pakistani-system. It is a broader world.

  • kaiser1 on April 2, 2008, 20:16 GMT

    Well conceived and written article Mr. Osman, I hail you. Every word of yours is utterly true and coming to terms in the same sequence of events. I cannot add more but say which is a quote from Maninder Singh on the Zee Sports yesterday: "anything can happen in Pakistan". I'm Pakistani by descent but regret such events as they unfold around the world on the front media pages and bring shame for us and for the country

  • banglapagol on April 2, 2008, 18:51 GMT

    very candidly written. very nice article Mr. Osman. However i do believe shoaib is leaving behind a legacy. He made fast bowling much KOOLER than it ever was. the run up, the action, the sheer pace, the yorkers,etc. HE was a treat for the eye and a scare for batsmen. people will talk of shoaib for a very long time. Although people of pakistan and everyone else will also regret of what he could have been. But everything aside, Mr Osman is right on the money about he returning back. No country will ever want to loose someone like Shoaib, no matter how unruly he is. this Ban is a farce. it will be overturned soon enough by the new government.

  • Hassan.Farooqi on April 2, 2008, 18:49 GMT

    I just checked Jang-Group.com, a politician Mr. Hanif Abbasi (hopefully no relation to my beloved Kamran Abbasi) has already put a resolution in National Assembly to sack Dr. Nasim Ashraf and reinstate Shoaib.

    Pakistan Cricket Board is probably the only cricket board controlled by government. Maybe ICC should come up with some rules that all cricket boards should be totally independant professional bodies run by a democratically elected body of cricket professionals. Wait a minute ... is ICC an independant professional body?

  • Asif_Kidwai on April 2, 2008, 17:53 GMT

    Osman you have written a well thought article, and I have to agree with you 100% about our conntry and how things work in there. As you said, before long we will find out that Shoaib ban is overturned just like his pervious bans. But, I do believe he is a match winner and a great fast bowler. He should have been handled differently, if you look at the previous and current fast bowler, they all have tempers. I do hope that his ban gets overturned soon. Since, his playing days are numbered as a fast bowler. So why not get some return from the investment which PCB did for his treatment in Australia and in other department. Why should we loose a good talent like him. Lets see what happen next.

    Thanks, Regards

  • muazy on April 2, 2008, 17:46 GMT

    mr.osman i totally agree with u.....he could have been the far most best bowler if only disclpine was not a problem....i just say tht the pakistani board couldnt even handle a single superstar in the whole team???? wht were thy doing whn he was breaking disclipine 2004 to 2007 and thn suddenly u hear such a harsh decision...nothing can be said about pakistan cricket board thy are so unpredictable at times...but nevertheless u can expect that he will come back to the team and he has still good 5 years of his career....

  • pakipower1234 on April 2, 2008, 17:37 GMT

    Awesome report!!!I cant agree more, look the point is, if the pcb really wanted to get rid of shoaib that badly then they should have suspended him when he hit Asif - they only gave him a 13 match ban at that point and now when he has committed a minor offense, which a lot of pakistani players have done in the past, they give him a five year ban. And I agree with u, why even call it a 5 year ban, we all know that really he would be done for life, just stupidity as far as I am concerned. I wouldnt be surprised if a lot more of our players join the ICL, pcb is shooting itself in the foot.

  • pakcricketfan on April 2, 2008, 16:39 GMT

    I think the five-year ban on Shoaib is a bit harsh. If they had done so when he hit Asif, that would've been a sensible thing. If you look at Shoaib's history, a five-year ban seems quite less, but since this ban is only for his recent acts, it seems harsh.

    I acknowledge Shoaib's cricketing skills. I'm always hooked on the TV when he is bowling. No doubt he is a match winner, but you have to have good behaviour and discipline and keep your feet on the ground. With the skills he has, he could have done and achieved a lot more. He could have left a memorable legacy behind him. Sadly, he never had the attitude of doing so.

  • Zaheersm on April 2, 2008, 16:36 GMT

    A well written article. Kudos to Osman for combining the current situation of Pakistan and the cricket in Pakistan. Its been 60 years since India and Pakistan got independence but the path which both nations chose to follow was different in all walks of life. A comment written by Dr. Watson about this article truly reflects the difference between the two nations. Agreed that this space is not to compare two countries. But certainly it is the kind of surrounding which makes citizen grow and prosper. As in Cricket you need seniors and administrators to shape and nurture the talent, same is true about politics. Like in India, it never happened in Pakistan. Some commenter are happy that Shoaib is banned.

  • gr8aamir on April 2, 2008, 15:34 GMT

    I don't think that only he deserves punishment. I think we should also punish those who have made him so. I think the PCB took too long to make a hard decision on him. I can't really understand why people in Pakistan back him and call him their hero. Hero's don't behave in the manner that he does. I remember what a cab driver in London once told me about Shoaib: he hasn't served the country with his full capability.

    I think we should really focus on the future of Pakistan cricket and bring some new blood into the game. They must be hungry to serve and play for the country. Shoaib was comparing himself to Brett Lee the other day. Has Shoaib ever thought about how Lee overcame his injuries? Look at where he stands. Today, he is a match-winning bowler and the main thing is that he is a part of the team unlike Shoaib, who is just playing cat and mouse games.

  • msusmani on April 2, 2008, 12:47 GMT

    Very nice article Osman. Shoaib had it all messed up. Unfortunately, after more than a decade in cricket's top flight, he doesn't have anything to show for him, except some news headlines.

    Its about time, that even if he comes back through back door channels, he should not be taken up for selection. He has a serious attitude problem and that unfortunately has refused to go in the past decade, so it is safe to assume that it will not go now.

    He could have been great, could very well have aced Imran and 2 Ws, but it was not to be.

  • khmayecha on April 2, 2008, 11:34 GMT

    It is difficult to say how he should have been handled; but the statistics say that he has played far less games in his career (till now) than he is capable of. Some due to injury some due to behaviour problems. But no one can deny the thrill of watching him come in to bowl at breakneck speed. I think, for the good of cricket, that itself is the reason to allow him to play. The Board could have surely worked up a system of pinching him in other areas and letting him play. They have preferred to hit him under the belt and ground him. If the board felt that they have done the right thing by demoting him in the contract issue - they should have just ignored the comments after that. even the Prime Minister is subject to criticism - is the board above it ?

  • robheinen on April 2, 2008, 10:57 GMT

    The machinations so accurately described by Osman Samiuddin apply throughout this world. Perhaps they more blatantly surface in Pakistan, but that's only to be praised in this country then.

    It's always difficult to tell who's speaking the truth when the media is all you have to go by. Therefore it's hard to make any judgement on anyone. On the other side of the coin is the saying: 'If it talks like a duck and walks like a duck, you can be pretty sure it's a duck'. But many people ahve been scapegoated before.

    It's a sad thing that Shoaib has been banned from all - but IPL - cricket. He's always been a grwat bowler and has done an outstanding job for his country. With greatness, as looks inevitable, comes attitude. All greats have had it, to some degree anyway. Most possibly it finds its origin in seeing through the nonense of all machinations. Usually their minds operate above that level.

    Concluding: It's a waste to the cricketing world to loose Shoaib so early in his carreer

  • Pankaj1955 on April 2, 2008, 10:10 GMT

    Being an Indian, I am supposed to dislike everything which is Pakistani, but believe me I am, like so many other Indians, a big fan of Shoaib Akhtar. Shoaib's sizzling pace once mesmerised the world including India. Who can forget the pace he generated in the Calcutta Test in 1999, when he clean bowled Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar in quick succession? Shoaib was one of the most talented cricketers from the sub-continents and could have been counted in the same breath as Inzamam, Sachin, Dravid or even Kapil but it is a pity that he has been wasted. I would only blame Pak cricket authorities who allowed the matters to reach this stage. They should have nurtured Shoaib's talent - instead they allowed it to drift and go as waste.

  • BabbarCounty on April 2, 2008, 9:46 GMT

    I think Shoaib has taken way too much criticism in his career. We lose because our batting sucks, and the world knows that. Our bowlers are the ones who have kept us at the top of the game in the last 15 years... Wasim, Waqar, Aaqib, Saqlain, Shoaib, Razzaq, Azhar, Mushi and Afridi. How many superstar batsmen did we have during this time? Inzi, Yousuf and maybe Younis. BTW, look what happened to 80% these names. Fired or banned. That's how we give farewells here.

    My question is... is it wrong for these great sports stars... who inspire and struggle for our enjoyment... to be proud of themselves? I don't give a damn about his bad-boy image... if what he did was wrong then he should have been punished... but it's a mockery of cricket in Pakistan that his longest ban comes for what technically isn't even a mistake. If i am mad about my employers, will it be easy for me to work?

  • FasihK on April 2, 2008, 9:45 GMT

    A very good read! and a true to life picture. Its a shame that such an immense talent is a victim of mismanagement and self destruct. Its not a surprise that this has happened in a land called Pakistan where so many boys have dreamt about becoming the fastest bowler of the world or doing a Imran Khan or a Wasim Akram or a Waqar Younis in their life times. I wonder how many still dare doing that. What a shame!!! Osman is right in that Shoaib is only human - but a very specially talented one- who was lucky enough to make it to the biggest stage of the game. He failed to follow the best practises of the game and play the game in its true spirit.Its a case of lack of professionalism towards something he claims to be very passionate .This has redered him for various disciplinary breaches and subsequent accounting actions by the cricket board in Pakistan.

  • basit2010 on April 2, 2008, 9:13 GMT

    Osman, I'd mostly agree with your analysis. Shoaib could have been a true great, if you pick and choose his best performances stretched over a decade, you would see that he undoubtedly had the talent. I specifically remember that on more than a couple of occasions, he was able to single-handedly run through the Australian batting line-up (the best line-up by a country mile in the last decade) in both versions of the game, in fact, he was probably the only bowler who actually troubled the Aussies on all sorts of surfaces during the last decade, if that is a measure of talent. But he was pretty much devoid of maturity and focus, and probably was of little use now with pathetic fitness in his 30s. But here is the point, has anybody in international cricket ever been banned for 5 years for an offense similar to what Shoaib has done? You cannot possibly execute a thief on the grounds that he has stolen before. This seems like a knee-jerk reaction, one taken in anger, by the PCB.

  • Night-Watchman on April 2, 2008, 8:44 GMT

    In many ways, I see the Pakistan cricket's fortunes similar to the story of Shoaib Akhtar. Wonderfully talented, the team often reads like a collection of unbeatable individuals. Unfortunately, Talent, potential, capability all never progress beyond that. The turmoil in the country for most of the past decade surely has a bearing too.

    I am a fan of Pakistan cricket. It has produced some memorable characters and fantastic performances. It was a never say die spirited team that would face the greatest adversary with scant respect. Yet, after the World cup winning high, the team never raised to the next level. When Imran walked away, the team seemed to lose itself. If you see too many past tenss in my writing, they were meant to be. The writing, to me, was on the wall with Inzy's praying antics. Once you lose confidence in your abilities and look towards the almighty, you are surely lost. Malick seems to be continuing the trend. Insha-allah, I hope that Pakistan finds itself and soon!

  • harimenon on April 2, 2008, 8:39 GMT

    I read with interest article on Shoaib Akhtar and cant agree much. He is a very talented player and the pressure to perform consistenly has got into him. How on earth the Pakistan Cricket Control Board offer him just a retainer contract when he has been performing consistently. I am sure he was just voicing out his frustration rather than criticising the Board. How come Danish Kaneria was let off easily with a warning?

  • Dr.Watson on April 2, 2008, 8:21 GMT

    Osman, It was candid and a well written article.

    I saw a show in which some former pak saying that Shoaib should have been handled well. But as a 32 year old would he not know how to handle him? Look at the Indian Seniors how they handle themselves and manage the team. Dhoni is also a media superstar, he also behaves well. The ban though might not be timed properly and a little harsh, PCB has few options left as far as Shoiab is concerned

  • lestokes on April 2, 2008, 8:15 GMT

    This is perhaps the most disapointing news for a man who has become infamous for all the wrong reasons. Indeed, Shoaib has had a record of poor attituide, but, it's still a little harsh and will now almost certainly end his Int. playing career. Now all one can be done is to reflect on just what could have been.

    Although i dont feel neccessarily hollow in the outcome. I do feel a sense of unfillment for Shoaib. A player with so much skill and a record for the fastest ball...

    What a maravlaous player he could still be if wasnt for his boards lack of patience and confidence in assisting his return to confidence. Were other boards get behind there players in time of need. The PCB have seemed to taken the "my way or the high" approach & coping out. Sadly this is not the way to handle such a situation nor any situation.

    So in the age of statistics and averages Shoaib's career is perhaps the one best example were such measures will never truely reflect the true talent of Shoaib Akhtar.

  • Sweet_Players on April 2, 2008, 7:46 GMT

    i think that was the best thing ever in pakistan cricket to get rid of him. keep it up boys

  • Arsh on April 2, 2008, 7:20 GMT

    Wasted talent.15 years down the line he will regret he didn't do his talent any justice but I'm glad Pakistan has moved on. It was about time!

  • SaifS on April 2, 2008, 7:01 GMT

    It gives me great pain to see a talented fast bowler so badly mis-handled by the administration.Although he is himself responsible to an extent for his current fate. The exuberance of youth shows and everyone doesn't come from a refined background, hence it is the responsibility of people handling him to safeguard his interests and make him a better person, else what is the use of so many paid officials and the so called personality developers? I've seen similar cases in India where sometimes the fire of youth has crossed the limits, take actor Salman Khan as example.But people of India still respect Salman a lot despite his trifles in the past because there are lot of positives in him and they should never be ignored. I pray to the 'Almighty' that He bring peace to the land of Pakistan and destroy the powers of evil, everything else will fall into it's place then almost automatically, Cricket too.

  • CrickLuver on April 2, 2008, 7:00 GMT

    Yes he actually deserves a more stringent ban. In fact in the last series against India, he was barely able to walk but wanted to play the match. If anyone here calls it committment, think again - effectively he was not doing good to the pakistan team which needed a win badly by occupying a slot and not being able to bowl and bowl fast. Its not committment but utter foolishness and being adamant doesnt help.

  • haroon89 on April 2, 2008, 6:48 GMT

    Great article once again Osman!! I was a very big fan of Shoaib Akhtar until these recent series of events and actions which were taken against Shoaib in the past 2 years or so... and now i think its times.. hes done all he could for Pakistan. If he does stay any longer all he would do is make things worse for himself and keep giving a bad name to PCB (not that i think they do a very good job but they still represent our country Pakistan). If he stays he will just disappoint those few people left who still have faith in him.

  • FahimaSalman11 on April 2, 2008, 5:57 GMT

    I believe he deserves this punishment. If we look at the track record of Shoaib - he played equal number of Test matches to the number of commercials he has done. This shows his interest in cricket and his fitness.

  • bkhan420 on April 2, 2008, 5:55 GMT

    The real losers in all this are the fans. While Akhtar is 32, he still has a good five years left in him to play international cricket on a competitive level. Yes he is injury and excuse prone, but he provides much entertainment for cricket fans, and Pakistan should not forget the fact that they have had such few viable bowling options since the retirement of Waqar and Wasim. These new youngsters will take time and the result is that the next 5 years of Pakistan cricket look bleak. What's more troubling than the decision, however, is the PCB's action in limiting freedom of speech. Can you imagine what would happen here in America if the Yankees banned one of their players for speaking out against management? The PCB, and ICC for the matter, must get out of the stone ages and accept criticism.

  • abystander on April 2, 2008, 5:39 GMT

    I think Shoaib should ditch the PCB Pakistan team and join the ICL. He can represent Pakistan in the ICL international team and show his class and talent.

  • DaGaD on April 2, 2008, 5:06 GMT

    For long enough we were thinking that it was Fleming's career which is full of 'what if' questions. But in fact it is Akhtar's career which is overloaded with 'what i' questions. A classic case of 'how to screw your career in 10 easy ways.' Whenever he did any wrong he was punished though was again saved, but this time he spoke a fact and he was still punished, probably taking his past record into account. There is a true saying that 'If you speak a truth after 10 lies it itself become the 11th lie.' We won't miss you Shoaib as I hope that you will continue your antics in the IPL too.

  • SamiSaayer on April 2, 2008, 4:44 GMT

    well written Osman. Off course nobody would be surprised if the event becomes politicized and the ban is lifted. It will only humiliate the country. If he were to be banned, he should have been banned long ago to end the tyranny of the nation. We could've lived with the fact that we do not have the fastest bowler in the world and would have started concentrating on other things. Amir Sohail rightly said last night on a TV Channel; in the 90s we have 10 superstars and there were no problems and now we have only one true superstar and the board cannot manage it. Pity.

  • gopalbs on April 2, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    Osman,

    This , like so many others in the past, is a brilliant article.

    Carry on the good work.

    Gopal

  • Naseer on April 2, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    Well said Sir! I think it is the time to put full stop to this wort-ever saga, what is it all about, what is the benifit of the talent which cannot be utalized, to be a bit frank, Shoib actaully does not have the spirit of a sportsman, who should be eager and enthusiastic to perform for his country, but unfortunately Shoib has been a "Wasted talent", and he is the one who has done most damage to his career. Problem after problem, issue after issue, what nonesence, you might be fastest bowler in the world but it does not going to work for you until you keep on performing with sincerety and without any hussle and bussle. I think PCB has done what it should have done quite earlier, although there is strong possibality of his comback, only and because "Any thing can happen in Pak" and if it happens it would be disaster for the currnet and future of cricket in Pak, it will set a very ugly example for the upcoming talent of cricket generation, PCB should make sure it does not happen.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Naseer on April 2, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    Well said Sir! I think it is the time to put full stop to this wort-ever saga, what is it all about, what is the benifit of the talent which cannot be utalized, to be a bit frank, Shoib actaully does not have the spirit of a sportsman, who should be eager and enthusiastic to perform for his country, but unfortunately Shoib has been a "Wasted talent", and he is the one who has done most damage to his career. Problem after problem, issue after issue, what nonesence, you might be fastest bowler in the world but it does not going to work for you until you keep on performing with sincerety and without any hussle and bussle. I think PCB has done what it should have done quite earlier, although there is strong possibality of his comback, only and because "Any thing can happen in Pak" and if it happens it would be disaster for the currnet and future of cricket in Pak, it will set a very ugly example for the upcoming talent of cricket generation, PCB should make sure it does not happen.

  • gopalbs on April 2, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    Osman,

    This , like so many others in the past, is a brilliant article.

    Carry on the good work.

    Gopal

  • SamiSaayer on April 2, 2008, 4:44 GMT

    well written Osman. Off course nobody would be surprised if the event becomes politicized and the ban is lifted. It will only humiliate the country. If he were to be banned, he should have been banned long ago to end the tyranny of the nation. We could've lived with the fact that we do not have the fastest bowler in the world and would have started concentrating on other things. Amir Sohail rightly said last night on a TV Channel; in the 90s we have 10 superstars and there were no problems and now we have only one true superstar and the board cannot manage it. Pity.

  • DaGaD on April 2, 2008, 5:06 GMT

    For long enough we were thinking that it was Fleming's career which is full of 'what if' questions. But in fact it is Akhtar's career which is overloaded with 'what i' questions. A classic case of 'how to screw your career in 10 easy ways.' Whenever he did any wrong he was punished though was again saved, but this time he spoke a fact and he was still punished, probably taking his past record into account. There is a true saying that 'If you speak a truth after 10 lies it itself become the 11th lie.' We won't miss you Shoaib as I hope that you will continue your antics in the IPL too.

  • abystander on April 2, 2008, 5:39 GMT

    I think Shoaib should ditch the PCB Pakistan team and join the ICL. He can represent Pakistan in the ICL international team and show his class and talent.

  • bkhan420 on April 2, 2008, 5:55 GMT

    The real losers in all this are the fans. While Akhtar is 32, he still has a good five years left in him to play international cricket on a competitive level. Yes he is injury and excuse prone, but he provides much entertainment for cricket fans, and Pakistan should not forget the fact that they have had such few viable bowling options since the retirement of Waqar and Wasim. These new youngsters will take time and the result is that the next 5 years of Pakistan cricket look bleak. What's more troubling than the decision, however, is the PCB's action in limiting freedom of speech. Can you imagine what would happen here in America if the Yankees banned one of their players for speaking out against management? The PCB, and ICC for the matter, must get out of the stone ages and accept criticism.

  • FahimaSalman11 on April 2, 2008, 5:57 GMT

    I believe he deserves this punishment. If we look at the track record of Shoaib - he played equal number of Test matches to the number of commercials he has done. This shows his interest in cricket and his fitness.

  • haroon89 on April 2, 2008, 6:48 GMT

    Great article once again Osman!! I was a very big fan of Shoaib Akhtar until these recent series of events and actions which were taken against Shoaib in the past 2 years or so... and now i think its times.. hes done all he could for Pakistan. If he does stay any longer all he would do is make things worse for himself and keep giving a bad name to PCB (not that i think they do a very good job but they still represent our country Pakistan). If he stays he will just disappoint those few people left who still have faith in him.

  • CrickLuver on April 2, 2008, 7:00 GMT

    Yes he actually deserves a more stringent ban. In fact in the last series against India, he was barely able to walk but wanted to play the match. If anyone here calls it committment, think again - effectively he was not doing good to the pakistan team which needed a win badly by occupying a slot and not being able to bowl and bowl fast. Its not committment but utter foolishness and being adamant doesnt help.

  • SaifS on April 2, 2008, 7:01 GMT

    It gives me great pain to see a talented fast bowler so badly mis-handled by the administration.Although he is himself responsible to an extent for his current fate. The exuberance of youth shows and everyone doesn't come from a refined background, hence it is the responsibility of people handling him to safeguard his interests and make him a better person, else what is the use of so many paid officials and the so called personality developers? I've seen similar cases in India where sometimes the fire of youth has crossed the limits, take actor Salman Khan as example.But people of India still respect Salman a lot despite his trifles in the past because there are lot of positives in him and they should never be ignored. I pray to the 'Almighty' that He bring peace to the land of Pakistan and destroy the powers of evil, everything else will fall into it's place then almost automatically, Cricket too.