Shoaib Akhtar is retiring from cricket after the World Cup. And certainly the most mercurial, compelling and controversial career of World cricket is coming to an end. Its not something surprising for me neither it’s something of news to leave me stunned. I expected this from Shoaib. He looks past his best and simply gives the impression of a soldier who simply is trying to give us the impression that what force he was once.
But the colorful Rawalpindi boy will be missed. Shoaib caught my attention in 1998 in the second Test against South Africa at Durban where his pace completely destroyed the Proteas batting line up and helped to take a lead that paved the way for a memorable win. Then he again was lost and he again came back with a bang at Kolkata where his express pace left the Indian God clueless and broke “The Wall” in to pieces.
The Kolkata exhibition of furious pace from the 23 year old Rawalpindi boy launched the story of Shoaib Akhtar. Since then the world was thrilling, the world was like an express train, the world used to thunder towards its target like a leopard. The world loved remixed music, DJ parties and it loved the run of Shoaib Akhtar.
The world loved the aeroplane landing on the runway with a style as Shoaib Akhtar aeroplane antics after getting a scalp. Time used to stand still and hold it’s breathe when Shoaib used to start his run up towards the wicket and let the expiratory air release when Shoaib delivered his cannon balls down the track. But the romance and adventure never finished. The thrill never dried up as the flat footed, dark eyed, silky haired dashing Pakistani was to script thrillers after thrillers with each of his deliveries.
The world will never forget his devastation against England on a flat Lahore track in 2005 in the third Test where he rattled the cream of English batting with a fiery spell that contained slower ball mostly, the world will miss the thunderous attack on the Aussies at Brisbane and Colombo in 2002, The Eden gardens will always curse him from shutting her down when he knocked out the Indian Gods middle stump.
In an era when the world lacked fast men to put shiver down the spine, Shoaib Akhtar has been the Ferrari on the rough roads. There were flat wickets every where only to aid the batters, the rules had gone against the faster men and the bowlers were to shun pace and were taking care of line length more. But Shoaib refused to go defensive. He continued to essay pulsating and impulsive bowling and continued to rattle the stumps with his deadly venomous pace.
Shoiab could have been an all-time best fast bowler had he been more disciplined, had he been more cautious in handling his temper. His recklessness and his fragile fitness often let him and his fans down. And the biggest loss was cricket’s as it missed more thrillers of the man named: Shoaib Akhtar.
Cricket will lose its colour when Shoaib will halt after the World Cup. He was the foaming, freakish crank who sleeps and shouts at the end of your road through the night, and you and the other neighbours complain about him, but when he's gone, for some reason you wish he wasn't.
Even those who hated him will definitely miss him. His name will come in any cricketing topic when the subject about fast bowlers is being discussed. The world’s thrill seems to have stopped; the wind is not blowing fast in the cricketing arena, the speed gun has suddenly become a lost topic, the aeroplane is not landing artistically on the runway.
The world seems suddenly slow with Shoaib Akhtar's decision of retirement.