ISLAMABAD-Former pacer Shoaib Akhtar has revealed that how his career was about to end but it went to the peak in a three-match Test home series against England in 2005, courtesy to one of the sledges by former English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.
“I’ve got to be thankful to you. Had it not for you Freddie! My career would have long gone. [Because in] that was the series against England, if you wouldn’t have treated me, I’m not going to say badly. But you just motivated me enough to get back into the side,” Shoaib said in a conversation with Flintoff at TalkSport’s podcast.
According to Shoaib, the English all-rounder mocked him by comparing his physique with Tarzan, the famous fictional character. He said he believed that Flintoff’s behaviour was a bit rude towards him that time. “I thought you could not fully understand me. And on top of that, you said a famous line, ‘You look like a Tarzan, but bowl like Jane’. I said this Jane can bowl fast. Let me show this guy to you,” added the former pace sensation, who delivered some really fiery spells to claim 17 scalps in that series.
The Rawalpindi Express also revealed that he intended to hurt the English players, especially Flintoff. “I remember talking to [Steve] Harmison [at that time]. I said Harmison! I’m really going to hurt you guys. He said we are going to hurt back you. I said that’s fine, but I’ll be just going after you, especially this boy Flintoff.
“Somehow you helped me to get back into side [Pakistan team]. Had it not for you bro. It would’ve been very difficult for me because they [selectors] were dropping me from the team. They were saying that we are not going to pick you for the team [due to fitness issues]. I said [to them] give me one Test match if I don’t perform then let it go,” he maintained. Pakistan emerged victorious in the Test series 2-0 before wrapping up the subsequent ODI series by 4-1.
Shoaib told Flintoff that he knew him even before he played against Pakistan. “We knew you through Wasim Akram because he played for Manchester. He was talking about a young kid [Flintoof], who he said was highly talented and can be next Ian Botham of England. We were very curious to know who that kid is,” he said.
“I finally saw you in Sharjah somewhere in 1998. You hit Saqlain Mushtaq for massive sixes, which [even] scared me. We realised that this guy is powerful and multi-talented,” he added.
Heaping praises on Flintoff, the erstwhile pacer said, he had been a great competitor, who could win matches for England single-handedly. “We thoroughly enjoyed playing against you,” added Shoaib, who picked up 178 wickets in 46 Tests and 247 in 163 ODIs.