Shoaib Akhtar Positive About His Comeback
Undaunted by comments that he is a spent force, fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is eyeing a successful comeback during Pakistan's tours of New Zealand and Australia starting in November this year.
Sources close to Akhtar told on Tuesday that the fast bowler is planning to follow a strict training regime to regain his form and fitness for a return to international cricket.
Pakistan are to tour New Zealand in November and will then fly out to Australia in December to play three Tests, five One-day Internationals and a Twenty20 game.
Shoaib, who turns 34 next month, last played for Pakistan in the One-day series against Sri Lanka at home in January this year .He was dismissed from the team because of poor form.
He was withdrawn from Pakistan's squad for the World Twenty20 because of a skin problem and was later overlooked for the ongoing away series against Sri Lanka.
Pakistan also dropped him from the 30-man provisional squad for the Champions Trophy that begins in South Africa on September 22.
The move has prompted legendary pacer Wasim Akram to announce that Akhtar's career is virtually over, saying that the warning bells had been sounded with Akhtar's omission from Pakistan's list of probables for the Champions Trophy.
"I don't think he has got a chance, unless and until some miracle happens. Even though it depends on the captain and selectors, I think Shoaib has fallen out with the selectors and the board. The board still supported him and he went to Abu Dhabi and played two of the five games before getting injured again. We all saw that," said Akram.
However, just regaining form and fitness might not be sufficient for the controversy-ridden player.
Shoaib is also entangled in a legal battle with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) over repeated breaches of discipline.
Akhtar is currently preparing to respond within the next couple of days to a show cause notice sent by the PCB.
According to sources, Akhtar will send a reply through his lawyer and will ask the board for evidence for the charge of breaking the PCB code of conduct levelled against him. He has time till July 31 to reply to the notice.
Shoaib was accused of violating three clauses of the central contract by giving a television interview in which he claimed that the national team management conspired against him and that he considered suing the authorities for leaking a confidential medical report.
In the notice signed by Zakir Khan, PCB's director of cricket operations, Akhtar has been told that he has breached clauses 4.1, 4.2 and 4.4 of the central contract by giving a television interview.
Akhtar is also fighting a legal case in the Lahore High Court (LHC) against an 18-month ban and a fine of Rs.7 million. The original ban was of five years and imposed when Akhtar spoke against the PCB after his omission from the central contract last year.
A PCB appeals committee reduced the ban to 18 months but levied a fine of Rs.7 million. The player challenged that decision in the LHC, which suspended the ban but upheld the fine. He was cleared for national duty by the PCB pending a final decision on his appeal besides awarding him a central contract earlier this year.