| Shoaib Akhtar
Calcutta: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has kept open the option of disciplining temperamental Shoaib Akhtar, but won’t act without giving the speedster a “fair hearing.”
“Right now, I can’t say whether action is going to be taken… Much depends on our medical commission’s report as also what the team management says about his attitude. Moreover, Shoaib himself will be heard… Obviously, he is going to be given a fair hearing,” PCB chief executive Rameez Raja told The Telegraph on Tuesday.
Shoaib has been under the scanner ever since he went off on the second afternoon of the Rawalpindi Test. He didn’t return to bowl — despite an SOS from a senior PCB official to manager Haroon Rashid in the dressing room — and didn’t exude the right body language while batting on what became the last day (Friday).
Many, of course, believe the speedster deliberately let Pakistan down — largely because of a tiff with captain Inzamam-ul Haq.
“At this moment, temperatures are high… But, depending on how things go, I could call both Inzamam and Shoaib and encourage them to talk face to face in my presence… There have been (man-management) problems with Shoaib, but the handling had been fine till…” Rameez, speaking from Lahore, added.
However, he pointed out: “Having been a player and captain, I know differences can exist, but there’s a limit… At no point should a captain’s authority be undermined… Also, you’ve got to be passionate — specially in a key game… I don’t think Shoaib showed enough passion in the decider (Rawalpindi)…”
Rameez confirmed having ‘intervened’ before the second Test, in Lahore, to ensure that Inzamam didn’t drop Shoaib.
Returning to the decider, he felt the team itself lacked passion — a huge indictment that.
“Perhaps it had something to do with India being a superior side… Or, the huge Indian total (600) demoralised the boys… Bottomline is that we weren’t passionate about winning… It hurts and definitely hasn’t gone down well with the public,” Rameez stated.
[Significantly, PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan had this to say after the Test series too was won by Sourav Ganguly’s Team India: “My main concern for the present is the manner in which the Rawalpindi match was lost… In a recent address to the players, the President of Pakistan, who is also our patron, had talked about the need to fight and the will to win.
“While some players, like the courageous Asim Kamal, clearly demonstrated that even in a desperate cause, there were others who patently failed the test by their carefree, unprofessional approach in the second innings… I have taken serious note of this lack of commitment to national honour…”]
Incidentally, Rameez pointed out that the top players may not be fielded in next month’s short series in Malaysia, where Sri Lanka is going to be the third team.
“I’ve asked the chief selector (Wasim Bari) if we could do without some of the key players, particularly the ones contracted to the Counties. After all, not much is at stake and, later in the summer, we will be requiring them for the Asia Cup and the tri-nation event in Holland. So…” he informed.
Meanwhile, reacting to reports in the Media (at home) that Shoaib — due at Durham in a few days — had made himself unavailable for Malaysia, Rameez said: “We haven’t been told anything at all…”
Whatever the truth, for now, Shoaib appears destined to make bigger headlines off the field.