‘Was telling Inzy I want to hit that guy’: Shoaib Akhtar recalls on-field rivalry with Andrew Flintoff
Pakistan bowling legend Shoaib Akhtar on Thursday recalled the rivalry with former England allrounder Andrew Flintoff. The latter, in a podcast with Talk Sport last week, had talked about the 2005 Test against Pakistan in Faislabad, in which he called Akhtar a ‘Tarzan’, and then was cleaned up by the Pakistan seamer. Akhtar, in a conversation with Flintoff on a latest Talk Sport podcast, which he uploaded on his Youtube page, gave his side of the story.
“Remember when I was bowling against you in Faislabad, I was bowling you bouncers. I was really angry at you. I was telling Inzamam I want to hit that guy. He said ‘he is too big a guy, you can hit him, anyways’. I asked ‘can I come around the wicket, can I bowl a beamer’, and he was like ‘no, this is against our ethics. Can you just bounce him’? So, what I did was I started bowling bouncers to you,” the former Pakistan fast bowler said.
Despite the on-field tiff, Akhtar thanked Flintoff for resurrecting his career, as he said that the England allrounder motivated him to get back into the team despite severe knee pain.
“I have to be thankful to you, Freddie. Had it not for you, my career would have been over long time ago. If not for that series against England, I would not have been able to get back into the side. You motivated me,” Akhtar said.
When Flintoff asked how he motivated him, Akhtar said: “I thought that the behaviour was a bit rude towards me and I thought you could not fully understand me. And on top of that, you said a famous line, ‘You look like a Tarzan, but bowl like Jane’. I said this Jane can bowl fast, let me show it to you,” he said.
“I remember telling Steve Harmison ‘I’m going to hurt you’. And he said, ‘we are going to hurt you back’. And I was like ‘that’s okay, but I am going to go after this guy, Freddie. Somehow, you helped me get back into the side. But if it weren’t for you, I would not have been able to get back into the team. They were dropping me. I said, give me one Test match, if I perform, take me, or let me go,” Akhtar said.