England in Pakistan 2005-06 October 23, 2005

Shoaib Akhtar faces make-or-break fitness test


Point to prove: Shoaib Akhtar © Getty Images
Shoaib Akhtar faces a make-or-break fitness test at Pakistan's practice camp this week to determine how much of a role he will play in the upcoming series against England.

Akhtar, 30, has faced constant criticism for his poor fitness record and many still question his attitude. Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan, a supporter of Akhtar, said: "With his age he is at the crossroads. I think the England series is make-or-break for Akhtar. He is 30 so he has four years left in him but it is Akhtar who gives Pakistan the hope to win against England."

Akhtar has a reputation for breaking down mid-series and has previously been fined for going out on late nights. Pakistan's coach Bob Woolmer, who has publicly asked for more commitment from Akhtar, said: "He is in our scheme of things because he is a genuine fast bowler but the question mark is whether he can last five days of a Test and 15 of a series."

Rameez Raja, a former Pakistan captain and ex-chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board, said Akhtar has a lot to prove. "It's up to Akhtar to prove everyone wrong, he should understand the importance of playing for Pakistan," he said. "There are always lots of expectations of Akhtar and he has got to prove a point to everyone against England and then against India."