New Delhi: Shoaib Akhtar turned 42 on Sunday. The former Pakistani fast bowler is often undermined for not having a long career at the international level. It was an innings marred by both injury as well as discipline issues.
Akhtar played for Pakistan for over 13 years but in that long a span, he could only accumulate 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is.
What is really special though is his bowling average in all formats. 25.69 in Tests, 24.97 in ODIs and 22.73 in T20Is, highlighting his supreme ability to be consistent across formats.
Remember he played in an era (1997-2011) when the bat dominated the ball. It was a time when the bats were getting bigger, the pitches flatter, the boundaries shorter, the bowling averages were being swollen and the batting averages were expanding.
Yet Akhtar managed to not just hold his own but play with an ability to be effective day in day out. It is interesting that he has made so many controversial statements over the years that you remember him best for the drama centring around those events.
But it must not be forgotten that he would have gone down as one of the greats if he had more support from those around him. He was still an outstanding bowler even if not an icon.