|Shoaib Akhtar during the release of his book, in New Delhi, on Friday. (PTI)
Calcutta/New Delhi: Controversies have always been a part of Shoaib Akhtars cricketing career. Be it chucking, ball tampering or doping, the Pakistan fast bowler has been involved in every aspect that is considered illegal in the sport.
He hasnt missed an opportunity to make sensational headlines and has remained the same even after retiring from international cricket.
In his latest act, he has questioned the abilities of two of the greatest batsmen in the games history, Indias Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, to promote his autobiography.
In his book, launched in New Delhi on Friday, Shoaib says they do not know the art of finishing the game.
[According to a late night report, Sachin declined to comment on Shoaibs remarks. It is below my dignity to react to Shoaibs comment, he was quoted as saying by television channels.]
He has also admitted to ball tampering and that almost all Pakistani fast bowlers are involved in it.
The following are excerpts from his book and what he said during a media session
Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid
On Sachin Tendulkar
Vivian Richards, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara and the likes of them are great batsmen who dominated with the bat and were truly match-winners. Initially, when I bowled against Sachin, I found these qualities missing. He might have had more runs and records, he lacked the ability to finish the game.
I remember the 2006 home series against India…. What went in our favour was that Sachin was suffering from tennis elbow! This severely handicapped the great batsman. We managed to psychologically browbeat him. We bounced the ball at him and were able to unnerve him. I returned to the dressing room that first day with the knowledge that Sachin was not comfortable facing fast and rising ball. I bowled (Sachin) a particularly fast ball which he, to my amazement, didnt even touch. He walked away! That was the first time, I saw him walk away from me — that, too, on the slow track at Faisalabad. It got my hunting instincts up and in the next match I hit him on the head and he couldnt score after that.
I think players like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid werent exactly match winners to start with, nor did they know the art of finishing the game.
On Rahul Dravid
There were only one or two guys in the Indian team who had to carry their bat... Their responsibility was to win a match or score a hundred in every game… Unfortunately, there wasnt a finisher… I mean I have seen the Chennai Test match in 1999… Sachin was needed there, and then the Calcutta Test match… But I did not see him finish the match. As for Dravid, he could cruise with the bat… He had improved his game for the ODI format and had only started winning matches for India with the help of Gambhir, Sehwag and Yuvraj… I mean these are the guys who have won the matches…
Almost all Pakistani fast bowlers have tampered with the ball. I may be the first one to openly admit it but everybody is doing it… To be honest, every team in the world tampers with the ball. We probably started it but today koi team doodh ki dhooli nahin hain. That is the only way to survive because the wickets are so slow.
If he was involved in ball tampering
I remember it being very hot and humid in Dambulla (in a tri-series after the 2003 World Cup) and as is customary with the pitches of the subcontinent, it was an awfully slow track. We were playing New Zealand, we needed a result... Out of desperation, I began fussing with the ball. Yes, for those of you who want to know, I did tamper with the ball in that match. I have tampered with the ball on many occasions. Have been warned several times and even being caught twice — Dambulla was one such instance.
If any other player was involved
I wont name him but one Pakistani cricketer actually switched the ball in the umpires pocket with one that reversed like crazy. Umpires usually keep the ball in their coat pockets and then hang their coat up for lunch. That was when the transfer occurred. After this incident, they now leave their coats in a locked room.
Ways of doctoring the ball
There are so many ways to prepare the ball; its not just a matter of scratching it. I have used my boot nails and zip of my back pocket. Many bowlers use vaseline or gum on the ball.
On Shah Rukh Khan and IPL
I openly say this now… I reckon that IPL incident… The Board was paying money to the people, and that too a chunk of money, not to play in the ICL. I said that I dont want any money and I came to meet Lalit Modi in Mumbai and Shah Rukh Khan was also present at the meeting…
They obviously convinced me to join IPL… Sourav (Ganguly) wanted me badly in the team because Sourav knows my potential. So I did join the Knight Riders. At that point of time, I had a better offer from the ICL… But I can tell you that I sacrificed a lot of money… Shah Rukh and I spoke about me not being happy with the money. But they got me to agree. I should have never listened to them… I left that money for Shah Rukh… But he has a wrong perception about me… that I am flamboyant, yeh ladai, jhagra, yeh oh… I dont know…
For the record
Mohandas Menon, The Telegraph’s statistician, has worked out Shoaib Akhtar’s record against Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Here goes:
Shoaib vs Sachin — In 9 Tests, Ind won 3, Pak won 3, Draw 3 (Has been dismissed 3 times by Shoaib)
Shoaib vs Dravid — In 10 Tests, Ind won 3, Pak won 3, Draw 4 (Has been dismissed 4 times by Shoaib)
Shoaib vs Sachin — In 19 ODIs, Ind won 10, Pak won 9 (Has been dismissed 5 times by Shoaib)
Shoaib vs Dravid — In 23 ODIs, Ind won 8, Pak won 15 (Has been dismissed 5 times by Shoaib)