The hyper-extensible elbows, double joints, injuries and banned substance-taking couldn’t stop Shoaib Akhtar. Unfortunately, the one thing he’s never been able to protect himself against is his own idiocy.
Shoaib misses matches for a million reasons, the million-and-first reason, his mouth, is the biggest problem. If only someone could have grabbed him by the shoulders, shaken him and told him to shut the hell up. Maybe then everyone would rate him alongside Imran Khan and Wasim and Waqar. As it is, only Shoaib himself thinks he belongs in that pantheon.
After barely playing for years, getting banned for drug-taking and hitting Mohammad Asif with a bat, it was hardly surprising that Shoaib Akhtar didn’t get a Pakistan contract at the start of the year. Shoaib thought otherwise and called the Pakistan Cricket Board incompetent, which is true on the whole, but probably unfair in this instance.
The PCB promptly banned him for five years because he was supposedly in breach of the players’ code of conduct. Shoaib isn’t a Pakistan player, however, so this doesn’t really make any sense.
So Shoaib will appeal and doubtless the ban will be overturned, but he’ll still not turn out for Pakistan for some other reason. Osman Samiuddin sums it up best over at Cricinfo:
“It is not a drama anymore, just a series of pathetic jousts between an unruly fool and a succession of inept administrations.”
It’s increasingly difficult to gauge whether it’s even worth worrying about Shoaib Akhtar any more. He doesn’t appear often enough for us to know if he’s still any good or not. Pakistan’s coach, Geoff Lawson, says he was bowling at 93mph in the nets last week though, so maybe we are missing something.