Former Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar has recalled his most memorable duel against Australia, triggering flashbacks of that fiery duel with their former captain Ricky Ponting in the 1999 Test in Perth. On a bouncy pitch there, Akhtar delivered one of the fastest spells of the bowling of his career.
With Australia's ongoing tour of Pakistan, their first in 24 years, being one of the key talking points in world cricket at present, especially after the thrilling Karachi Test, one of Pakistan's all-time greats, Shoaib Akhtar recalled his most memorable duel against the Aussies, triggering flashbacks of that fiery duel with their former captain Ricky Ponting in the 1999 Test in Perth.
Pakistan were trailing in that series 0-2 after Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist's sensational fourth-innings scores helped the hosts chase down 369 in Hobart. Akhtar then single-handedly wanted to pull one back for the tourists and the bouncy Perth conditions had the stage ready for one of the fastest and fiercest bowlers of all time to wreak havoc.
“During the Test match, I thought (if nothing is happening) let’s hurt somebody,” Akhtar said in an interview with Sydney Morning Herald. “That’s why I bowled the fastest spell. I wanted to see if Ricky can match my pace and I was purposely bowling bouncers [to] see if I could beat him but before that, I had never beaten him with my sheer pace.
“Had it not been Ricky Ponting … I would have chopped his [the batsman’s] head off because it was furiously fast,” he added.
Further, Akhtar recalled his first-ever series against Australia - in 1998, the last time they had toured Pakistan prior to the ongoing tour. Akhtar believes that even though he went in with an aggressive mindset of hurting their batters during the match with lethal bouncers, his “Australian” attitude was widely embraced by the Aussies.
“(They loved) my aggression because they think I am a Pakistani who has the attitude of an Australian,” Akhtar added.
“I gave it to them. In the 2005 series, me and [Justin] Langer got into a fight. Me and (Matt) Hayden got into a fight. It’s verbal, not physical. I wanted to display my talent [and show] that I am better than you. They wanted gladiators out there.
Akhtar also believes that fast bowlers of today’s generations are relatively “soft” compared to them.
“Nowadays, they are very soft. I don’t think the aggression is as much there now. I don’t know why. I’m old school, like Ian Chappell. I want unlimited bouncers. Bodyline bowling should be allowed. Why not? I want some character. I’ve been best of friends with Brett Lee and I respected Ricky Ponting,” he opined.
Akhtar has also lived in Australia during the early part of his career, and lauded their citizens’ behaviour towards him.
“The warmth I got from Australians was amazing, Jeff Thomson’s house in Brisbane was like a second home to me. Sadly my mother passed away two months ago but she went to Australia and loved it. It’s the most fascinating place,” he signed off.