Islamabad: Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar could have played a lot more for his country despite his fitness woes, “if he did not have everybody going after him,” Dr Tauseef Ahmed, who was appointed as a training and rehabilitation consultant by the PCB for a period of five years around 1999, has said.
Akhtar’s fitness woes are well documented; however, Dr Ahmed felt that the injuries he suffered were preventable with proper management. “He could have played a lot more if he didn`t have everybody going after him. I`ll say that if I had been allowed to work with Shoaib, his career could have been longer. He wouldn`t have missed those critical 2-3 years that he did. When Shehryar Khan brought in Bob Woolmer as the coach it was made clear that I would be kept away from Shoaib,” a website quoted Dr. Ahmed, as saying.
“Shabbir was also mishandled by them. I knew he would be called for chucking if he went with the team on the West Indies tour. He was sent before he was rehabbed and ended up being reported for a suspect action. His career was done after that,” he added.
The Rawalpindi Express’ unique physical attributes, particularly his bowling action, have been analysed in detail during his career, and Dr. Ahmed surmised that Akhtar’s body was not made for cricket.
“The willpower, determination and absolute love and craze for cricket allowed him to get this far. This is all part of Allah’s glory. If you look at Shoaib individually– he is flatfooted, has a hyper extensible build and some of the muscles in his body are missing, but he still managed to attain speeds of 150 plus kilometre per hour,” Dr. Ahmed said.
He further described the dire situation that Akhtar faced in the run up to the ICC’s verdict on his action in 2006, when the fears within the PCB that a life-time ban was imminent. “Right before the ICC were going to issue a lifetime ban to Shoaib, I mentioned that we can use the concept of biomechanics to our advantage and get Shoaib cleared… We fought Akhtar’s case and his action was cleared. Not only was his lifetime ban lifted, but he played the remainder of his career without anyone pointing a finger at him,” he recalled.
Dr Ahmed conceded that Akhtar did expect special treatment, but never experienced any issues with him personally. “Akhtar being a superstar, expected to be pampered but they [captain, PCB] were jealous of him and so they treated him the way they did. Let me tell you that Shoaib never bothered anyone. He is like a little brother to me and he never said no to me, even if I woke up him at 2am in the morning to come and train,” he pointed out.