Shoaib Akhtar in Dubai

The Pakistani cricketer on his talent-spotting trip to Dubai

Interview, Hot seat

The Pakistani cricketer is considered one of the sport’s fastest bowlers of modern times. Benita Adesuyan meets him on his talent-spotting trip to Dubai.

You’re known as the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ due to the incredible speed of your bowling, how did you get to be so fast?
It’s a natural talent and a gift. I worked really hard for that pace, and sustained it for 14 years. Now I’ve retired, and I can hang up my boots, I’ve done the tricky part which is the trauma and hardship of cricket that I had to go through, now life is easier and I can chill out and I can give back my knowledge, efforts and skills and handover to the younger guys.

You visited the labour camps in the UAE with The Sprite Cricket Stars tournament, did you discover any exceptional talents?
We were there physically, and we played with them, we danced, we cried. I didn’t ever expect to get such a welcome. They just wanted to hug me, and have tea with me. We made more than 50 appearances at different camps and we picked up some great talents. There are a few guys who could make it to the Pakistan team.

So when you find talent with this tournament you’re able to help them?
Well I can say in interviews and on TV that these are the guys you should be looking out for and if he’s that good people will take notice and make sure he gets a chance.

As a fast bowler, have there been any players it was sweet to take out?
Sachin Tendulkar, Adrian Gilchrist, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting.

What advice would you give to young fast bowlers?
Don’t be scared to do the right thing – be scared to do the wrong thing. And when you decide to do the right thing then don’t look back. Just go out there and achieve – if you know you have talent and you don’t achieve then I’m not sorry for you – but if you have the talent but no courage, get it, stand up for your dreams and you’ll get it.

Will you open an academy?
I haven’t decided yet. I’ve been offered some coaching jobs, but I don’t know about an academy. But I will make sure I transfer the knowledge that I have.

What’s been your biggest achievement?
I bowled my heart out for my country, and the people had faith in me. That’s a great achievement.

What’s your biggest regret?
Oh there are many, but I don’t look back. Life’s like a rear view window you can look back but you keep on driving.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m commentating, working for news channels, coaching and helping the social cause, I’m with Smart life NGO. A thousand things are happening in my life – I thought when I retired there’d be more time but I’m even busier and my mum is not too happy.
www.sprite.ae/spritecricketstars.

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