Shoaib Akhtar

Shoaib Akhtar   (born 13 August 1975) is a Pakistani former cricketer who is regarded as the fastest bowler in modern cricket.[1] He made his Test debut in November 1997 and played his first One Day International four months later. He played on Pakistan’s Cricket Team as an attacking fast bowler. He has been involved in several controversies during his career, often accused of not being a team player but his presence was always felt by the opponents. Akhtar was sent home during the Test match series in Australia in 2005 for alleged poor attitude. A year later, he was embroiled in a drug scandal after testing positive to a banned substance. However, the ban imposed on him was lifted on court appeal. In September 2007, Akhtar was banned for an indefinite period for his fight with Pakistan team mate and fast bowler Mohammad Asif.[2] On 1 April 2008, Akhtar was banned for five years for publicly criticizing the Pakistan Cricket Board.[3] In October 2008, the Lahore High Court in Pakistan suspended the five-year ban and Akhtar was selected in the 15-man squad for the Twenty20 Quadrangular Tournament in Canada.[4] Pakistani judge Rana Bhagwandas once stated that Akhtar is a legend of Pakistan cricket.[5] Akhtar re

England county cricket

Akhtar has played for three English county cricket clubs, including Somerset in 2001, Durham in 2003 and 2004 and Worcestershire in 2005. He did achieve his moments of success, such as taking 5 wickets for 35 runs for Durham against Somerset in the National League in 2003 and claiming 6 wickets for 16 runs in the same competition for Worcestershire against Glamorgan two years later, but he suffered from fitness problems, as well as a perception that he was less than interested in his task. This was particularly the case at Worcestershire: chairman John Elliott said “Players like that are no good to our club. In fact, Akhtar has been no good for any club he’s been at. He’s a superstar and just does what he wants.”[16]

Indian Premier League

Akhtar made a successful return to cricket in his first game in the Indian Premier League, playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders against the Delhi Daredevils. Defending a low score of 133 runs, Akhtar took four top order wickets which ultimately led to the Daredevils being restricted to 110 runs. He ended with figures of 4 wickets for 11 runs from three overs, a performance which earned him the player of the match award.[17][18] Akhtar denied that he had any point to prove with his performance, stating, “I just wanted to win the game.” Knight Riders’ captain Sourav Ganguly also acknowledged Akhtar’s performance, “He came to the country with lots [of things] happening behind him…But he showed a lot of character.”[19] It has been widely reported that the Knight Riders have released Akhtar from his contract due to his injury history but the Knight Riders’ officials have denied these reports and said they are still in talks with the fast bowler.[20]He has also played for Cyclones of Chittagong in Bangladesh’s NCL T20 Bangladesh.

Cricket controversies and injuries

Akhtar’s career has been plagued with injuries, controversies and accusations of poor attitude. After rising into international stardom at a young age due to his speed, due to his interesting personality and charisma glamour seemed to follow him, some say at the detriment of his sporting focus. Although he eventually crossed the 100 mph barrier, his attitude took its toll on his reputation as well as his fitness. After a poor performance in the 2003 Cricket World Cup, he got involved in a verbal conflict with former Pakistan captain and fast bowler Waqar Younis. Later on Akhtar was sacked along with other players, including Younus. In a triangular series in 2003 held in Sri Lanka, he was caught tampering with the cricket ball, making him the second player in cricket to be banned on ball tampering charges. The same year he was banned for one Test match and two One Day International matches for abusing South African spin bowler Paul Adams, during a match against South Africa.
 
In the 2004 home series with India, he struggled with wrist and back injuries, which raised questions about their commitment to the team. His relationship with the captain and the coach deteriorated further partially due to team politics. He was sent back from the 2005 Australia tour with a hamstring injury amid rumors of indiscipline, lack of commitment and attitudinal complaints. He was subsequently fined by the Pakistan Cricket Board for avoiding a late night curfew.[21] The rest of his cricketing career was riddled with ankle and knee injuries which forced him to undergo a surgery in February 2006, until finally he was banned for two years for allegedly using performance enhancing drugs. In November 2006, an officer assigned to the Pakistan team in India, Anil Kaul, alleged that Akhtar had slapped former coach Bob Woolmer following a fight over the music to be played in the team bus on the eve of ICC Champions Trophy. Both Akhtar and Woolmer have strongly denied these allegations.[22]

Drug scandal

On 16 October 2006 Akhtar was suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board, along with Mohammed Asif after the pair were tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance nandrolone.[23] They were consequently pulled out from the ICC Champions Trophy 2006.[24] Former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman later stated that he had always suspected Akhtar of substance abuse due to his consistent “reservations” to drug tests.[25] Former Pakistan captain Inzamam ul-Haq had also previously complained about Akhtar’s drug abuse but was not reported to the Pakistan Cricket Board.[26] Pakistan news reports state that federal capital police had arrested Shoaib along with drugs some three years ago.
 
Akhtar immediately declared his innocence and he declined knowingly taking any performance enhancing drugs. In a statement issued to the press, he claimed that he could never cheat team-mates or opponents.[27] During a hearing with the Pakistan Cricket Board Anti-Doping Committee, he along with Asif maintained taking non-steroidal dietary supplements.[28] He, however, failed to convince the committee of his innocence. In its report submitted to the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Anti-Doping Committee recommended a two-year ban.[29]On 1 November 2006 the Pakistan Cricket Board handed down a two-year suspension to Akhtar and a one-year suspension to Asif, banning them from professional cricket during the period.[30] Shoaib had subsequently been added to Pakistan Olympic Association list of doping offenders.[31] However, on 5 December 2006 represented by his lawyer Abid Hassan Minto, Akhtar was cleared on appeal.[32]

Acquittal

On 5 December 2006 Akhtar and Asif were acquitted by the tribunal appointed to review their appeals against the drugs ban imposed on them by an earlier committee. After a clear hearing from Akhtar’s lawyer Abid Hassan Minto, the three-man committee, headed by Justice Fakhruddin Ebrahim, voted two to one in favour of the acquittal. Haseeb Ahsan, former Test cricketer and Ebrahim were in favour of the acquittal while the third member, Danish Zaheer, dissented. “Exceptional circumstances” were cited including discrepancies between the instantaneous offence charges of doping that were laid and the quick delivery of a very harsh verdict. The complete drug testing procedure was concluded to have been technically flawed as it did not follow standard procedures. Other established facts by the committee included that the duo were not aware of the banned drug to be present in their supplements because the Pakistan Cricket Board itself had not informed them of the dangers of contaminated supplements.[33][34]
 
Both Akhtar and Asif were thankful to the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Nasim Ashraf for giving them a fair trial and their team mates, captain and coach for the moral support. However, in 2006, they did not play in the Test match series against the West Indies because the Pakistan Cricket Board has recommended that they play domestic games first to recover form and fitness.[35]However, WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, was to challenge Pakistan’s decision to lift bans on fast bowlers Akhtar and Asif by taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.[36] The ICC, cricket’s world governing body, has supported the WADA appeal adding that it was committed to a dope free game.[37]On 1 March 2007 Akhtar and Asif were ruled out of the Pakistani squad for the 2007 Cricket World Cup by team officials, minutes before the squad was to depart for the West Indies. The team management along with the Pakistan Cricket Board said their injuries were too severe to risk taking them to the Caribbean. Since neither of the two had been declared fit they had not undergone official doping tests.[38]
 
On 2 July 2007 the Court of Arbitration for Sport dropped the case, ruling it had no jurisdiction to challenge the decision made by PCB.[39][40]On 21 May 2009, Akhtar was dropped from his country’s World Championship Twenty20 squad supposedly because of genital viral warts, previously reported as a skin infection, however it was later confirmed that this was untrue, as the PCB giving false statements, with an aim to damage Akhtar’s reputation.[41]tired from international cricket after the 2011 World Cup.
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