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Shoaib Akhtar joins Durham

June 23, 2003


LONDON, June 22: England county side Durham have pulled off a coup by signing Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar until the end of the season, it was reported on Sunday.

Shoaib, who is officially the fastest bowler in the world and is dubbed the ‘Rawalpindi Express’, will replace Dewald Pretorius, who has been called into the South Africa one-day squad.

Durham chairman Bill Midgley told the Sunday Sun: “I can confirm that Durham County Cricket Club have signed Shoaib Akhtar as an overseas replacement for Dewald Pretorius.”

He added: “He will join us after the last one-day international between England and Pakistan and because Pakistan have no further commitments during the rest of the summer he will stay with us for the remainder of the season.

“This is excellent news for Durham. Losing Dewald was a big miss for us but signing the first bowler to bowl at 100mph is fantastic — let’s see if he can do it at the Riverside and get everyone off their seats.”

The 27-year-old, known as the Rawalpindi Express, has claimed 88 wickets in 25 Tests, averaging 27.18.

Durham captain Jon Lewis said: “I’m delighted Shoaib is joining us, he’s a very exciting prospect. Dewald was doing very well and we knew we had to replace him.

“We knew that with the Pakistan tour coming to an end one or two players would be available and we made a few enquiries about them.”

As well as his bowling prowess, Shoaib has courted controversy for alleged ball tampering.

He was given a two-match suspension for alleged ball tampering during a match in May against New Zealand as part of the teams’ tri-series in Sri Lanka.—AFP