"F*** ! Shoaib Akhtar Retiring! F***"
For a few moments I failed to understand. My lazy grey cells, as Hercule Poirot calls them, simply denied this revelation. I skipped this text, and checked other ones. Sadly, I was not dreaming. There were around 15 text messages which simply said "Shoaib Akhtar set to retire". I couldn't believe it...
I still remember what happened to me when I read about Michael Jackson's death just after waking up on June 25, 2009. My best friend's text shattered me "Michael Joseph Jackon is no more. Rest in Peace". I can never forget that feeling.
The same feeling pulled the ground beneath me, when I woke up on August 29, 2010 (It was around 3 am, for Sehri) to find about the News of the World's exposé of Spot Fixing within the Pakistan Team. I still remember what happened with me, I failed to comprehend the situation, and had no one to comfort me.
It was somewhat the same today, but there was a single emotion over that almost drowned me. It was sorrow.
I have always been a die hard fan of Shoaib, regardless of the controversies. There was also a time when I was depressed because of his scandals, but I knew the guy still had it. Last year, when Shoaib made a comeback, and played domestic T20 competition, my uncle was also here (on a visit, from India). He is a fan too, of Shoaib. We were talking about him, as he kept bowling for Islamabad Leopards, setting off from his mark and scaring the hell out of batsmen. My uncle said "Look at him! His pace is just so awesome! He can still do it!" I listened to him for a while, and then said "You know uncle, Geoff Lawson, who coached Pakistan in 2007-08 recently said that Shoaib was the most careless cricketer he ever came across". My uncle smiled, and then said "I don't care. He's an artist, he has God-gifted talent. A person with such a talent can act crazy at times, but it is the responsibly of the captain, coach to make sure they get the best out of him" I nodded and agreed.
My love for Shoaib Akhtar increased a million times when he made his comeback, last year, in 2010. His performance in Asia Cup 2010, the whole tour of England (including T20s Vs. Australia), then the series in UAE against South Africa and later on in New Zealand. I loved the way he bowled during the England-Pakistan ODI series, right after Spot Fixing scandal. With all the pressure, and the criticism, he led the bowling attack, and the way he dedicated himself on the field, was just breathtaking.
Currently playing his last World Cup, and his last International tournament/ series, he has done well so far too. The best delivery was when he dismissed Jayawardene, and added him to the hall of shame by taking down the middle stump.
Shoaib Akhtar said that his biggest accomplishment was 'being an honest man'. These words echo, what a man he is. Regardless of being thrashed by issues both on and off the field, he never backed down. He was like that Hero is epics, who never gave up and kept coming back, destroying his enemies.
Who can forget that plane celebration ? Who can forget the rants ? Who can forget the dirty brawls ? Who can forget Shoaib's finger, as he pointed toward the batsmen ? No one.
I am pretty sure that he'll do his best against Australia on March 19th and then later on in the Quarter Finals. I want him to dismiss every batsman, and etch a deep mark on the mind of every cricket lover out there. If this is his swan song, I want him to do his best. People like Shoaib Akhtar are irreplaceable. Though, I can never do him justice by writing about him, because words will always defy me, but just like Shoaib, I will never give up.
Shoaib, go and rock the world ! We will always love you, and respect you.
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