Shoaib Akhtar to quit after World Cup

Friday, 18 March 2011 09:14 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

(Reuters) - Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar will retire from international cricket after the World Cup.

“Yes, he’s retiring after this World Cup. He will speak to the press shortly,” team manager Intikhab Alam told Reuters on Thursday.

Media reports said that he told his team mates on Thursday before training in Colombo ahead of Pakistan’s final Group A round robin match with Australia on Saturday which could well decide who tops the group.

It is understood by observers here that fitness concerns were the reason for his exit. He was to hold a news conference later on Thursday.

Reports said that his emotional address to his team mates was followed by embraces by team mates and team staff.

The “Rawalpindi Express” burst on to the scene as the fastest bowler of his generation even though he did not possess the cleanest of actions.

His long run up -- and he defied many a coach to persist with that -- and the albatross-like celebration after every dismissal made him a spectators’ delight but his temperament often gave team management headaches.

Ball-tampering allegations, numerous disciplinary issues, hitting team mate Mohammad Asif with a bat in 2007, doping accusations and several other controversies and injuries never allowed him to concentrate fully on his game.

Since his debut against West Indies in 1997, the 35-year-old pace bowler featured in just 46 test matches, claiming 178 wickets and he was perceived as vulnerable to the rigours of the game’s longer version.

He was more regular in shorter formats, having played 163 one-day internationals so far, claiming 247 wickets.

His obsession with pace was often perceived as detrimental to the team’s cause, especially his long run-up which often put Pakistan at risk of penalty for their slow over rate.

For most part of his career, Akhtar was not considered a team man and was rather portrayed as the problem child of Pakistan cricket with a penchant for pace and night life.

Many observers felt, however, that this World Cup had shown a new, improved attitude from a maturing Shoaib.