Fiery Shoaib reveals how Flintoff helped revive his Pakistan career

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ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan demon paceman Shoaib Akhtar has revealed that as how his career was about to end but it went to the peak in a three-match Test home series against England in 2005, courtesy to one of the sledges by ex-English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.

“I’ve got to be thankful to you. Had it not for you Freddie! My career would have long gone. [Because in] that was the series against England, if you wouldn’t have treated me, I’m not going to say badly. But you just motivated me enough to get back into the side,” Shoaib said in a conversation with Flintoff on TalkSports podcast.

According to Shoaib, the Flintoff mocked him by comparing his physique with Tarzan, the famous fictional character. He said he believed that the all-rounder’s behaviour was a bit rude towards him that time.

“I thought you [Flintoff] 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 this guy to you,” added the former pace sensation who delivered series of fiery spells to claim 17 scalps in that series.

Shoaib — popularly known as the Rawalpindi Express — also revealed that he intended to hurt the English players, especially Flintoff.

“I remember talking to [Steve] Harmison at the time. I said Steve ‘I’m really going to hurt you guys’. He said we are going to hurt back you. I said that’s fine, but I’ll be just going after you, especially this boy Flintoff.

“Somehow you helped me to get back into the [Pakistan] side. Had it not for you bro. It would’ve been very difficult for me because they [selectors] were axing me from the team,” Shoaib went on. “The selectors were saying that they’ll not pick me [due to fitness issues]. I told them give me one Test match if I don’t perform then let it go.”

Pakistan emerged victorious in that series 2-0 before wrapping up the subsequent One-day International rubber 4-1.

Shoaib reminded Flintoff that he knew him even before he played against Pakistan.

“We knew you through Wasim Akram because he played for Lancashire. Wasim was talking about a young kid [Flintoff], who he said was highly talented and can be England’s next Ian Botham. We were very curious to know who that kid was.

“I finally saw him in Sharjah somewhere in 1998. He hit Saqlain Mushtaq for massive sixes, which [even] scared me. We realised that this guy is powerful and multi-talented,” he added.

Heaping praises on Flintoff, the erstwhile pacer said: ‘He had been a great competitor, who could win matches for England singlehandedly. We thoroughly enjoyed playing against him.”

Shoaib ended his colourful career with 178 wickets in 46 Tests and 247 from 163 One-day Internationals.

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