Shoaib Akhtar narrated an incident of how he had impressed South African batsman Gary Kirsten as a net bowler during a tri-series in 1994.
The Proteas, along with Australia, were in Pakistan for the Wills Triangular Trophy, which the Aussies eventually won by defeating the hosts.
Speaking on the Test Match Special podcast, Shoaib Akhtar revealed he was summoned to bowl to the South Africans in the nets and he convinced Gary Kirsten to vouch for the then 19-year-old to be included in the Pakistan team.
“I became a net bowler for the South Africans. So the South Africans came up to me, I remember very clearly, there is one gentleman called Gary Kirsten, and Jonty Rhodes," Shoaib Akhtar recalled.
The former pacer further added that he told the duo that he would soon clash swords with them in international cricket. When the pair had a puzzled look on their faces, Shoaib Akhtar stated that all they had to do was face him.
“I then bowled a couple of balls at Gary Kirsten and he said, ‘Oh my Lord, you should have been in the team rather than in the nets.’ I asked if I’m capable enough to be a great fast bowler. He said, ‘You must be kidding me. I am going to vouch for you in the Pakistan dressing room that you should play.’ And Pakistan, what they did is play me four years later. So, I lost my peak there,” concluded Shoaib Akhtar.
Shoaib Akhtar made his international debut in 1997
Indeed, it was only after three years that Shoaib Akhtar was picked for the national side. He dismissed West Indies wicket-keeper David Williams and then bowled Ian Bishop as Pakistan won the second Test in Rawalpindi by an innings and 29 runs. However, he was replaced by Saqlain Mushtaq in the next Test.Published 11 Aug 2020, 13:30 IST