In an era where ICC are honing their eyes towards watching the seam of the ball and discouraging bowlers from engaging verbally with batsmen, former Pakistan stalwart Shoaib Akhtar has called upon the game’s apex body to let the pacers express themselves on the field.
During a show on PTV Sports, the 41-year old shared his dismay on the rules and regulations imposed upon fast bowlers whilst calling for increased excitement at the international arena.
Akhtar asked, “When you are bowling so fast – you are sweating, and huffing and puffing, your heart beat is above average. What does the ICC expect from the bowler at that time? How should he react? Don’t try to suffocate the fast bowlers or the sport will lose its charm and following.”
“People want to see fast bowlers run in and take wickets and show emotions. When you are trying your best for your team, there will be emotions showed. I would say don’t try to restrict or restrain a fast bowler who should be allowed to express himself. If a fast bowler is hit around, he will react and that is the pinnacle of contest between bat and ball. This is real cricket.”
In his heyday, Akhtar himself was a terrifying prospect for any batsman to face due to his unbridled pace and ability to hit the deck hard. Despite suffering from quite a few injuries at various stages of his career, the right-armer continued to play by braving the pain.
Recently, the combination of flat pitches and bulkier bats have made the game more batsmen-friendly than before. As a result, fast bowlers have not been able to intimidate their opposition as much as what transpired in the previous eras.
Akhtar reasoned, “There are too many restrictions and codes on players to show their emotions. People still remember the great fast men of the 60s, 70s and 80s because they were not chained by rules and regulations, and were not afraid to express themselves. It was player versus player and fewer laws to suffocate players.”
Alongside him was the legendary Wasim Akram who began his career as a tear-away quick. The left-armer claimed that modern-day seamers have turned into bowling machines due to ICC’s rigid take on gamesmanship and banter.
The ‘Sultan of Swing’ explained, “What Shoaib means to say is that you cannot tame a fast-bowler. He is not a pet animal who will obey your orders. He is a fast-bowler and will react to a batsman’s actions. It is the beauty of the game, it is the beauty of being a fast-bowler. You run in, you get hit for a four, you stare at the batsman. You then have a go at him and that is the fun of being a fast-bowler.”
(Video Courtesy: WasteD EngineeR YouTube Channel)