There is no doubt that Shoaib Akhtar has been a tremendous fast bowler, it has also won him a lot of fan following across the world including India. He is also credited with bowling the fastest ball ever bowled in cricket at the speed of 161.3 km/hr (100.2 mph) in 2003 vs England.
But are the fastest bowlers in cricket also the greatest? Akhtar thinks so — he has made a big claim on his Pakistan career, 11 years after calling time from the international format.
In an interview with The Guardian, Akhtar has now claimed that he would have been the “Greatest Ever” if he had remained fit throughout his career. “Had I been the fittest guy, I would’ve been the greatest ever,” Akhtar told the English newspaper.
Fitness issues continued to hamper Akhtar’s career on multiple occasions before he eventually called time on his international career in 2011.
Akhtar was challenged with knee issues for a major part of his career and earlier this year – over 11 years since his international retirement – the former Pakistan pacer continues to have concerns with his knee.
He recently underwent knee surgery but Akhtar insisted that he had no regrets over the efforts he put in while representing the national team. Alluding to the fact that his extra effort in bowling faster deliveries may have led to the issue.
“My doctor asked me recently: ‘Shoaib, you are in so much pain right now. Tell me one thing. Was it worth it?’ I said: ‘Doc, every minute of it. It was so worth it,’” Akhtar stated.
The legendary speedster represented Pakistan in 46 Tests, 163 ODIs, and 15 T20Is in a 14-year-long international career.
Since his retirement, Akhtar has taken up commentary and broadcasting roles, and also runs his own YouTube channel.
Shoaib Akhtar’s Bowling Career Summary
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Pakistan, meanwhile, is set to return to action on December 1 when the side hosts England for the first Test of the three-match series in Rawalpindi.
This is England’s first Test tour of the country in 17 years; in their last series in 2005, Akhtar starred with a brilliant outing in the three Tests, taking 17 wickets.