Former Pakistan demon paceman Shoaib Akhtar has revealed that as how his career was near to end but it visited the height during a three-match Test home series against England in 2005, courtesy to at least one of the sledges by ex-English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.
“I’ve ought 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 visiting say badly. But you simply motivated me enough to urge back to the side,” Shoaib said during a conversation with Flintoff on TalkSports podcast.
According to Shoaib, the Flintoff mocked him by comparing his physique with Tarzan, the famous fictitious character. He said he believed that the all-rounder’s behaviour was a touch rude towards him that point.
“I thought you [Flintoff] couldn’t fully understand me. And on top of that, you said a famous line: ‘You appear as if a Tarzan, but bowl like Jane’. I said this Jane can bowl fast. Let me show this guy to you,” added the previous pace sensation who delivered series of fiery spells to assert 17 scalps in this series.
Shoaib — popularly referred to as the Rawalpindi Express — also revealed that he intended to harm English people players, especially Flintoff.
“I remember speech [Steve] Harmison at the time. I said Steve ‘I’m really visiting hurt you guys’. He said we are visiting 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 urge back to the [Pakistan] side. Had it not for you bro. It would’ve been very difficult on behalf of me because they [selectors] were axing me from the team,” Shoaib went on. “The selectors were saying that they’ll not pick me [due to fitness issues]. I told them to give me one match game if I don’t perform then let it go.”
Pakistan emerged victorious in this series 2-0 before wrapping up the following One-day International rubber 4-1.
Shoaib reminded Flintoff that he knew him even before he played against Pakistan.
“We knew you thru Wasim Akram because he played for Lancashire. Wasim was talking a couple of young kid [Flintoff], who he said was highly talented and maybe England’s next Ian Botham. We were very curious to understand who that child was.
“I finally saw him in Sharjah somewhere in 1998. He hit Saqlain Mushtaq for enormous 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 good competitor, who could win matches for England singlehandedly. We thoroughly enjoyed playing against him.”
Shoaib ended his colourful career with 178 wickets in 46 Tests and 247 from 163 One-day Internationals.