Shoaib Akhtar slams ICC, says it has ‘finished cricket’

The former Pakistan fast bowler calls on the ICC to change the one-bouncer-per-over rule in ODIs.

Shoaib Akhtar says he would try to out-think Sachin Tendulkar during duels between them in their playing days.   -  PTI

The ICC has “successfully finished” cricket in the last 10 years and brought it down to its knees, former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has said.

During a conversation with Sanjay Manjrekar for ESPNcricinfo’s podcast, Akhtar expressed his anguish at some of the playing conditions in white-ball cricket, which has made it a game only for the batsmen. Akhtar was sharp in his criticism after Manjrekar asked for his opinion on a trend that fast bowlers were going a bit slow in limited-overs games, especially T20s, while spinners were bowling faster.

“Can I tell you something bluntly? [The ICC] are finishing the cricket. I am openly saying that in last 10 years, ICC has successfully finished cricket, and I would say ‘job well done guys’. Jo socha thaa apne woh kiya (You did what you intended to),” Akhtar said in his inimitable style.

Akhtar felt the number of bouncers per over should be increased as there were two new balls and only four fielders outside the circle for the better part of an ODI game. “I have been saying repeatedly that change [the] bouncer rule. You have two new balls and four fielders outside. Please ask ICC whether in last 10 years, quality of cricket has gone up or gone down. Where are those Sachin versus Shoaib contests?”

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Speaking about Tendulkar, Akhtar said he is one with whom he never got aggressive, as there was a lot of respect for him. “But yes, I would try to out-think him. Like in the 2006 tour of Pakistan, I knew he had tennis elbow problems and he can’t hook or pull me, so I bowled a barrage of bouncers to keep him quiet,” Akhtar said.

Kohli vs Akram

Talking about pull shots, the speed merchant said that at his peak Virat Kohli would have found it difficult to play that shot against him because of his express pace. “I would have come wide off the crease and tried to shape that new ball out and lured him into driving. Something that James Anderson has done with him. Having said that, he would have scored as many runs as he scored now had I also played.”

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Akhtar thought it would have been a treat to watch Kohli pitted against Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shane Warne in their prime. “He could have judged himself where he stood in front of these bowlers,” he said.

Manjrekar asked him whether the culture of producing tearaway quicks is still there in Pakistan. “People like me should have been in PCB and I would have produced fast bowlers. Fast bowlers should be like leopards which would hunt down its prey. I would have produced 12 fast bowlers and prepared them on every aspect, technique, mannerism, studies, diet, what to do with the body. I would have built a complete brand. You don’t get fast bowlers from people who are by nature ghulaam (subservient).”

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