‘Had it not for you, my journey would have been long gone’ – Shoaib Akhtar thanks Andrew Flintoff for reviving his Pakistan career

‘Had it not for you, my journey would have been long gone’ – Shoaib Akhtar thanks Andrew Flintoff for reviving his Pakistan career

'You look like a Tarzan, but bowl like Jane’, Flintoff once said to Shoaib.

Andrew Flintoff and Shoaib Akhtar
Andrew Flintoff and Shoaib Akhtar. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Shoaib Akhtar, the Pakistan fast bowler, has credited former England all-rounder Andre Flintoff for reviving his career for the national team. Back in 2005-06, the Three Lions toured Pakistan for a three-match Test series and Akhtar became the leading wicket-taker. The Rawalpindi Express churned out 17 wickets with a five-wicket haul in the last match at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

Going down the memory lane, Shoaib reckoned that Flintoff with his ‘rude behaviour’ ignited the fire inside him. Akhtar said that Freddie drew the popular movie Tarzan’s reference to mock him and his bowling. After getting charged up by those stern words, Akhtar pledged to ‘hurt’ the Englishmen with his pace and venom.

I thought that the behaviour was a bit rude towards me: Shoaib Akhtar

“People used to get under my skin badly at times. I have faced many problems with the management, with the batsmen. Having said all of that Freddie, I’ve got to be thankful to you. Had it not for you, my career would have long gone.

In that series against England, if you wouldn’t have treated me, I’m not going to say badly, but you motivated me enough to get back into the side,” Akhtar was quoted as saying in TalkSport’s podcast with Andrew Flintoff.

“I thought that the behaviour was a bit rude towards me and I thought, you could not fully understand me. Because in the tour of Australia, we were all having a great time, I didn’t think you could understand me better because we didn’t get to spend much time together.

“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. And I talked to (Steve) Harmison and said ‘I’m going to hurt you guys’ He said ‘we’re going to hurt you back’, but I was determined to go after Freddie,” he added.

In that series, Flintoff was in ominous form as well. He picked up 13 wickets and was second in the list of top wicket-takers in the series. With the bat, he managed 125 runs with a top score of 56.

In his career, Akhtar went on to play 46 Tests, picking up 178 wickets with 12 five-wicket hauls. Though his limited-over career for Pakistan lasted until 2011, his Test career came to a halt in 2007 after the away series against India.