Shoaib Akhtar's Flurry Of 'Improper' Bouncers

Shoaib Akhtar's Flurry Of 'Improper' Bouncers
The Rawalpindi Express once again appears to be endeavoring to stay in the limelight by returning with his customary verbal bouncers and yorkers with trademark outrageous remarks. This time he aimed directly at Pakistan's captain, and the best batsman in the world, Babar Azam. Besides, he did not forget to toss a short pitch to the superstar and newly betrothed Shaheen Afridi, and a stinging bouncer to the former wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal.

For the former sprinter, Azam, the globe’s best contemporary batsman has all but lacks the most "essential" trait: not being the 'brand'. To Shoaib’s dismay, Babar is accused of portraying Pakistan adversely as a superstar and not doing the ever-expanding ‘job’ complying with his stardom.

Shoaib Akhtar might see Azam as Pakistan's ‘future prime minister’, and appears to be mentioning that the best batsman in the world need to take pills to get taller and develop a four- or six-pack in order to occupy the position of newly established 'brand ambassador'.

And, the Rawalpindi Express continued to praise himself as usual and maintained his stance on "Afridi's rivalry" by declaring that that Shahid Afridi’s ‘son-in-law’ would have to accomplish the spell even if his knee tore apart, in reference to Shaheen Afridi's withdrawal due to a knee injury in the crucial T20 World Cup final match against England.

Add to this, Shoaib Akhtar slated the incumbent selector and veteran cricketer Kamran Akmal over his diction and articulation with his 'well' accented and articulated ‘breath-stopping' and ‘halfly-uttered’ phrases in a TV program to up the ante. The wicketkeeper appeared to be utterly at the bowler's mercy and simply could not fathom the scathing, over-the-top, self-conceited senior cricketer.

It is evident that the speedster has some intrinsic, queer desire to extend his on-field bowling speed to his biting comments off the field that has now crept in and has developed into an integral part of his guise and persona. He appears to be stringent, swift and has no constraints when it comes to advancing his notions. He only knows how to take down his ‘opponents’ and keeps on reminding that he knows all that the ‘local’ players are oblivious of.

Akhtar's impeachment that the current national captain lacks a certain personality and his use of Virat Kohli as an archetype raises eyebrows as everyone has different personalities. One would not want bigger-than-life sports mega stars Messi and Ronaldo to be like Kohli. Thank God, he didn't advise Babar to marry a movie star like Kohli.

In spite of being under the influence of English imperialism, we should not fall for and demean others for not having the non-cricket traits like second language proficiency mandatory upon us. The reputable players earn prestige through their excellence but not by means of elegance and panache.

It should be remembered that Akhtar was unnecessarily critical of the former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed for the same reason, due to his ‘common’ personality and a deficiency in public speaking, particularly English. For Shoaib, the ‘street-smart’ needed to be the world-smart, and Shoaib was unimpressed by his yawning and bulging belly, as was the former cricketer-turned-PM Imran Khan, who claimed credit for replacing Sarfaraz with Azam.

Although, the global standards defy such narrow perspectives. The world renowned soccer player, Messi, who has troubled numerous teams on these shores in the Champions League, speaks only a bit of English while he is fluent and expressive in Spanish, his first language. For such globally acclaimed luminaries and richest persons on the planet, despite the huge following, the sportsmen are sportsmen, not idols to carry the people beyond their frolicking skills.

Akhtar is perhaps striving to win attention and his interpretations are all in line with our society and especially elite mindset. Even if it is taken as goodwill, it still seems that Rawalpindi express is overly vexed. If he happens to see some old clips of Oxford graduate Imran, he hardly was a fluent speaker and by watching his interviews, it seemed that the interviewee had a tough time producing the words from the would-be –PM's mouth. He appears to be rude and despising while showing his concern over the ICC player of the year Babar.

On the other hand, he does not spare the young sprinter Shaheen Afridi even and shoots him too with his sarcasm and controversial, audacious claims. Shoaib wanted Shaheen to finish the spell at the T20 final no matter what, and he was upset to see Afridi leaving the field at the pivotal stage. This is consistent with Akhtar's injury-plagued career, who could 'afford' to skip the next two World Cups for acting overly ambitious. What if the knee gave way even before the period was over, as it did in the South Africa match against Sharjah in 2000? Perhaps he would be taken to the crease on a stretcher before being given the ball! What a stupid claim!

And, then his ridiculing of Akmal, the current selector who was in defense of Babar Azam, by mocking his accent explicitly, displays his belittling and disregarding to the former and current cricketers. No one is shy of Scottish or Arabic or Hindi English, why are we so ashamed of ‘Punjabi-English’ and just want to mock each other for accent or language?

The problem is that the whole nation is infatuated and obsessed with cricket and the former cricketers just want to add fuel to the dying stardom again and get the advantage of that by throwing derogatory statements and hoping to be in the punch lines and want to steal some distinction and fame which they truly savoured in the past.

A man like Shoaib Akhtar is always in need of rivals to put the viewers and fellowmen at their toes. Instead of criticising their playing, Shoaib concentrated more on their personality, their image, and all. Everyone has their own ‘job’ to do and each personality is diverse and unique.

If we all have to become Shoaibs, then we are afraid then the team and society are just left with injured lions and the over-the-moon psychopaths.

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