Cricket World Cup 2011

Pakistan pace ace to quit

2011-03-17 07:25
The Rawalpindi Express. (AFP)

Colombo - Pakistan's maverick paceman Shoaib Akhtar, whose colourful career has been a heady mix of on-field brilliance and off-field controversy, will quit international cricket after the World Cup.

"Yes, I will quit international cricket after the World Cup" the 35-year-old confirmed.

"I have taken this decision after much thought. Pakistan's last match in this World Cup will also be my last. I hope that will be the final on April 2."

Akhtar made up his mind after Pakistan's 110-run defeat against New Zealand, in which he went for 70 runs in his nine overs.

He was rested for the match against Zimbabwe on Monday and was thought to be an unlikely starter for Saturday's last Group A match against Australia.

Akhtar, who made his international debut in 1997, took 178 wickets in 46 Tests, the last of which was against India at Bangalore in 2007.

He is three wickets short of 250 in 163 one-day internationals and has taken 19 wickets in 15 Twenty20 internationals.

Pakistan squad members hugged him in the dressing room on Thursday before captain Shahid Afridi embraced him as the players entered the R. Premadasa stadium in Colombo for practice.

Akhtar, known as the Rawalpindi Express during his tearaway days as one of Test cricket's most feared if unpredictable talents, once cracked the 100mph barrier at the 2003 World Cup.

At this World Cup, which was always likely to be his swansong, Akhtar looked neat and tidy with figures of 0-10 and 2-42 against Kenya and Sri Lanka respectively.

He missed the win over Canada but was then smashed all over the park at Pallekele against New Zealand, with figures of 1-70, before being dropped for the game with Zimbabwe.

His career will always be remembered for a series of fitness problems, discipline violations as well as a doping offence that put the brakes on achieving his true potential.

Most recently he was fined $2 000 for breaching discipline after the defeat to New Zealand.

Team manager Intikhab Alam confirmed the fine, which was levied after an on-field spat with wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, who missed two chances off his bowling.

Akhtar and the now banned Mohammad Asif failed drugs tests in 2006 and were suspended for two years and one year respectively, both of which were lifted on appeal.

Fitness problems forced him to miss the 2007 World Cup while he was fined heavily and banned for 13 ODIs after he hit Asif with a bat two days before the 2007 World Twenty20 in South Africa.

In 2008 he was banned for five years after publicly criticising the Pakistan Cricket Board following his exclusion from the list of centrally contracted players.

The ban was reduced to 18 months by a tribunal, which levied a fine of 7.0 million Pakistani rupees ($105 000 at the time). His appeal against the ban is still pending.

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis admitted earlier this week that Akhtar's form and fitness were a concern.

"I always say Akhtar is not 23 anymore. You have to use him carefully. He wasn't outstanding in the last match," said Waqar of Akhtar's performance against New Zealand where he conceded 70 runs, including 28 off his last over.

His last delivery of that match - which may prove his final one at international level if he doesn't get another chance at the World Cup - was hit for six by Ross Taylor.

Shoaib Akhtar's career timeline after the Pakistan pace bowler on Thursday announced his retirement from international cricket after the World Cup.

Removed from the team for the Sahara Cup against India in Canada on grounds of indiscipline.

Akhtar makes his Test debut against the West Indies in November at his home ground in Rawalpindi, taking two wickets.

February 1999
Akhtar dismisses Indian greats Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid off successive deliveries in the Calcutta Test, which Pakistan win to lift the Asian Test championship. Earns nickname of "Rawalpindi Express"

December 1999
Akhtar's action called for the first time, but the International Cricket Council (ICC) allows him to carry as only his bouncer causes concerns.

March 2000
Banned for one ODI and fined for reaching team hotel late in Pakistan

Akhtar's action called for second time after taking five wickets in New Zealand.

November 2001
Action called for third time in Sharjah, after which Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) carries out examination at University of Western Australia which concludes his action is result of "unique physical characteristics" which form basis of him being cleared to continue.

November 2002
Reprimanded for ball-tampering and banned for one ODI after throwing water bottle at a spectator in Zimbabwe.

May 2003
Banned for two ODIs and fined 75 percent of match fee for ball-tampering during a tri-series in Sri Lanka

March 2003
Akhtar bowled at 100mph in Pakistan's match against England at Cape Town, becoming the first bowler in the history of the game to break the 100mph barrier.

October 2003
Banned for one Test and two ODIs for abusing Paul Adams in the first Test against South Africa, after taking eight wickets in the match to help Pakistan win. In second Test against New Zealand, helps Pakistan win with seven-wicket burst (11 in the match).

March 2004
Akhtar accused of feigning injury after Pakistan lost Test series to archrivals India 2-1.

October 2006
Akhtar and Mohammad Asif test positive for banned steroid nandrolone. Akhtar banned for two years and Asif for one year, bans which were lifted on appeal.

September 2007
Akhtar hits Asif with a bat, two days before the World Twenty20 in South Africa. A month later the PCB fine and ban him for 13 one-day matches

January 2008
Excluded from list of central contracts. A fuming Akhtar criticises the PCB. A disciplinary committee bans him for five years. Punishment reduced to 18 months on appeal, but fine imposed

May 2009
PCB drop him from World Twenty20 squad.

January 2011
Selected in Pakistan's World Cup squad, despite coach Waqar Younis saying he is not 100 percent fit.

March 2011
Akhtar announces he will retire after the World Cup


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