ISLAMABAD: Former pacer Shoaib Akhtar fears that international cricket could be reduced to just a couple of World Cups and T20 leagues if the International Cricket Council (ICC) does not intervene.
“I can tell you one thing, if you don’t go with justice for the next two years, there will be only two World Cups and ten leagues happening. If the ICC wants to go down that route, then please do so. It is your wish, we can only talk about cricket being destroyed but can’t do anything,” he said in a YouTube interview.
According to Shoaib, the rules of the game had been changed to benefit the batsmen. “You’ve to give permission for bodyline bowling. You’ve tied the hands of fast bowlers. What type of cricket are you organising? Two new balls with a restriction on bouncers — do you want fast bowlers to go there just to be smashed all around the park?” he asked.
He said that there were hardly any fast bowlers left in the game. “There are only three fast bowlers left in the world, including Cummins who is injury prone and Jofra Archer who was bowling at 150 kph but is now bowling at 132 kph.” He said that cricket had undergone a steady decline from the glory days of the past. “Till the time you don’t go with justice, cricket will keep going down. If you want someone to score 20,000 odd runs, it is your wish. It doesn’t affect me. If you don’t make cricket better, it does not impact my era.”
“The fans of our era are still our fans. The way we played cricket will always be remembered. Whether it be the West Indies’ of 70s and 80s or Pakistan of the 90s and even after that, we have had big names. People remember those eras.” Shoaib claimed that the Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup could have taken place but were sacrificed for the sake of the Indian Premier League.
“Asia Cup could have definitely happened, it would have been a great chance for India and Pakistan to play against each other. There are many reasons behind this, I don’t want to get into that. T20 World Cup could have also taken place, but I had said this earlier that they won’t let it happen.”
The former pacer asked the BCCI to play its role and save the game. “I am suggesting the BCCI to save cricket today. If they don’t save it, it’s fine, it doesn’t affect my era. My matches with Sachin Tendulkar are still remembered today.”
Shoaib also hinted at the BCCI using its power to get results in its favour, including Harbhajan Singh escaping a ban after supposedly using a racist slur against Andrew Symonds.
Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2020