Akhtar refuses retainer
The 32-year-old paceman, placed in "A" category of the contracted list last year, was relegated to a special retainers' category by the PCB over lack of fitness and performance.cricket Updated: Feb 01, 2008 22:52 IST
Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar Friday refused to accept a special retainer from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), saying he played because he loved the game and his country, not the money.
"Central contracts are not an issue because I play for my country and not for money. I will not accept retainership," said Akhtar, who was last week excluded from a list of 15 contracted players by the PCB.
The 32-year-old paceman, placed in "A" category of the contracted list last year, was relegated to a special retainers' category by the PCB over lack of fitness and performance.
The demotion followed Pakistan's defeat against arch-rivals India last month where Akhtar fell ill during the second Test at Calcutta and hurt his back in the third Test at Bangalore.
Pakistan lost the three-Test series 1-0 and went down 2-3 in the five-match one-day series.
Akhtar, also excluded from Pakistan's team for the ongoing one-day series against Zimbabwe, practised with the team on Friday and said he was disappointed on his exclusion from the team.
"I am fit and wanted to play," said Akhtar. "Had I played against Zimbabwe I would have got a better rhythm for the very important series against Australia which I desperately want to play."
Akhtar said money was never a motivation for him.
"I have always played the game for the love of it. I have never played the game for money so I don't need any fee to play for my country. To contribute in my team's wins are the greatest motivations for me.
"I played with high fever in Calcutta and that was only because I wanted my team not to lose the series after we lost the first Test in New Delhi," said Akhtar.
The maverick paceman was also criticised after he showed interest in acting in Bollywood movies, an inclination which irked Pakistan cricket officials.
"There were no issues of discipline with me on the Indian tour and coach Geoff Lawson praised my attitude and concentration, so all those things were baseless that I fell short on discipline."
Akhtar said doing well against Australia will be a motivation.
"Australia is world number one team and the way Indians have done well against them, I am sure that we can also do well against them. I am gearing up for that challenge and want to achieve the best results against them."
Pakistan host Australia - subject to security clearance - for three Tests and five one-day internationals in March-April.