No farewell match for Shoaib Akhtar

April 14th, 2011 - 3:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Shoaib Akhtar Karachi, April 14 (IANS) The Pakistan team management is averse to the idea of playing a ‘farewell match’ for controversial fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

The News reported that Pakistani team officials will resist any move to bring Akhtar back in the national squad in the near future to give him an opportunity for a swansong appearance in a match.

“He (Akhtar) is far from fit to play international cricket. And the fact that another big reason why Pakistan opted against playing him in their key World Cup games, including the semifinal against India, was his poor behaviour, makes it almost impossible for the bowler to make a return even for one final match,” The News quoted a source in the team as saying.

Recent reports have suggested that Akhtar, who announced his retirement in Sri Lanka during the World Cup last month, is making efforts to get a ‘farewell match’ most probably during the upcoming tour of West Indies. Pakistan will play one Twenty20 International, five One-day Internationals and two Tests during the series that will kick off on April 21 in St. Lucia.

Akhtar, 36, was a controversial inclusion in the 15-man squad for the World Cup but he did make his presence felt in the initial stages of the tournament.

At one stage in the tournament, things were looking set for Akhtar, especially after his crucial spell against hosts Sri Lanka in the match that Pakistan won by 11 runs at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.

But then came an ugly twist for the veteran fast bowler in Kandy just over a week later when wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal dropped New Zealand vice-captain Ross Taylor twice off Akhtar when on nought and four. Taylor went on to smash a match-winning century and in the process hit Akhtar for 28 in the bowler’s ninth over which included a trio of sixes and two fours.

As if the carnage he suffered at the hands of Taylor wasn’t enough, Akhtar further spoilt his own case due to a run-in with Kamran during the match.

According to a player who witnessed the episode that took place between Akhtar and Akmal, it all began when the pacer shot four pointless overthrows over the stumper’s head.

“What’s the matter with you,” Akmal was heard asking Akhtar. The pacer got angrier and decided to kick Akmal during the drinks break, an act which “took everyone by surprise”, according to the player.

Later, Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain, reported Akhtar for misconduct.

“He (Akhtar) kept abusing Akmal thoughout the match and ever afterwards, forcing Afridi to report him to the team management. For Akhtar it turned out to be the last straw,” said the player, who requested anonymity.

The team management acted swiftly by ordering a probe soon after the match and found Akhtar guilty of serious misconduct. “Team manager Intikhab Alam handed a strong-worded letter to Akhtar besides asking him to pay 2000 dollars as fine. For his involvement in the entire episode, Akmal was handed down a fine of 1000 dollars.”

According to sources, the incident turned out to be the final nail in Akhtar’s World Cup coffin.

“It was decided by the team management that there would be no room for the unfit and ill-tempered bowler in the line-up any more,” said a source.

When Akhtar learnt about the decision, he responded by announcing his retirement.

But even though he attracted a lot of sympathy from various quarters, Akhtar was unable to regain a place in the playing eleven during the rest of Pakistan’s World Cup campaign.

“The team management believes that after what happened during the World Cup, if Akhtar is given a farewell match, then it would send all the wrong signals to the players,” said a source. “It will be a compromise on discipline and nobody in the team management wants that to happen,” the report concluded.

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