Shoaib Akhtar is among the greatest fast bowlers to have played for Pakistan. He will always be known for one of the fastest bowlers in history.
Shoaib represented Pakistan in 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is picking up 178 wickets in Tests, 247 wickets in ODIs, and 19 wickets in T20Is. Things could have been very different for the fiery pacer from Rawalpindi if Andrew Flintoff had not fired him up in 2005, which played a role in his revival.
The bowling legend has credited the former England allrounder for reviving his career for the national team. He recalled England’s tour of Pakistan in 2005-06 when he picked up 17 wickets to finish the three-Test series as the leading wicket-taker.
Shoaib Akhtar recalled that Flintoff, with his ‘rude behavior,’ ignited the fire inside him. Akhtar stated that the England legend riled him up by drawing recommendations from the famous movie Tarzan to mock him. Hurt with Flintoff’s words, Shoaib Akhtar gave it back to England with a stunning bowling performance.
“People used to get under my skin badly at times. I have faced many problems with the management, with the batsmen. Having told all of that, Freddie, I’ve got to be thankful to you. Had it not for you, my career would have long gone.”
“In that series against England, if you wouldn’t have treated me, I’m not going to say badly, but you motivated me enough to get back into the side,” Shoaib Akhtar was quoted as saying in TalkSport’s podcast with Andrew Flintoff.
“I thought that the behavior was a bit rude towards me, and I thought you could not fully understand me. Because on the tour of Australia, we were all having a great time, I didn’t think you could understand me better because we didn’t get to spend much time together.”
“And on top of that, you said a famous line, ‘You look like a Tarzan, but bowls like Jane.’ I said this Jane can bowl fast, let me show this guy to you. And I talked to Harmison and said, ‘I’m going to hurt you guys’ He said, ‘we’re going to hurt you back,’ but I was determined to go after Freddie,” he added.
Flintoff, on his part, was in excellent form too because of the Ashes fresh off helping England win the series in 2005, he picked up 13 wickets and was second in the list of the top wicket-takers in the series. With the bat, he scored 125 runs with a top score of 56.