Former captains, players praise Akhtar for his decision

Updated: Mar 17, 2011, 23:33 PM IST

Karachi: Former captains and players on Thursday praised controversial fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar for taking the decision to retire from international cricket after the onging World Cup.

"His announcement today has not come as a surprise to me because something like this was on the card," former captain Rashid Latif said.

"He (Shoaib) has crossed his prime and not to forget he is 35 already, having said that the amount of entertainment and trill he brought to the field was outstanding. He was amongst the most glamorous cricketers of all time," said Latif.

Latif lamented that many negativities were associated with Akhtar but felt he was largely misunderstood. "He was famous for his attitude but let me tell you that he was down to earth and never been a problem for me when I was his captain.”

"The only worry for me was his pace, quite easily he was the fastest bowler I kept to. I thank Shoaib for entertaining us and also wish him all the luck in the future," said Latif.

Another former captain Moin Khan said that Pakistan would feel the void created by Akhtar`s retirement but hoped he would go out with a bang.

"He has always been the sort of person who loves the limelight and wants to perform on the big platform. I hope he is able to do something special in the remaining matches of the World Cup," said Moin.

Former captain Aamir Sohail said that he had enjoyed the challenge of captaining Akhtar and playing with him. "When I captained him I found him to be very responsive and eager to perform for the country. He has done the right thing to retire now but it will take time for someone to take his place," he said.

Sohail praised Akhtar for having the courage to decide himself when to retire from international cricket. "He has set a good precedent for future generation of cricketers."

Former Test batsman Basit Ali noted that though Pakistan had prepared a good backup of pace bowlers, none of them could match Akhtar at his best.

"He was easily the fastest bowler I have faced or seen bowling. Unfortunately he didn`t play as much for Pakistan because of so many issues," he said.

Akhtar`s Rawalpindi and Pakistan teammate Sohail Tanvir said despite his announcement to retire he still has a lot to give to Pakistan team in the World Cup.

"I am a firm believer in Akhtar`s potential and in what he can contribute to his team. He is a key component in Pakistan`s attack. He remains a match-winner, he had an off day but he might well win you the next game against any other opposition."