Abu Dhabi: Former Pakistan pace sensation Shoaib Akhtar wore a forlorn expression as he landed at the Shaikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Friday evening to fulfil his obligations for a community cricket event organised by a soft drink brand.
The unfortunate death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes on Thursday has plunged the cricketing world into mourning and Akhtar was no exception.
During 13 years of his international career, Akhtar had tormented a number of batsmen with his scorching pace.
As the debate gains momentum for a complete ban on bouncers to make cricket safer, Akhtar’s heart went out to the departed soul and the young bowler in question: Sean Abbott.
“It is an unfortunate incident and I still feel sick in my stomach. Knowing that it happened to my fellow cricketer, I feel very sad. My sympathies; it is a very over-rated word but can’t use any other word than this to comfort the family.
“My heart goes out to the family and friends. I hope God gives them the strength to come out of it soon. It is such a huge loss as he was one of the nicest kids I have ever met and one of the toughest competitors. It is a great loss for the Australia team, the nation as a whole and for the entire cricket fraternity,” said Akhtar.
The Rawalpindi Express was of the view that Abbott was really unfortunate while in his own case, he got lucky.
Recollecting hitting South Africa batsman Gary Kirsten on his face during the 2003-04 Test and then Brian Lara in the 2004 Champions Trophy semi-final, Akhtar said: “The delivery that hit Lara was and almost at the same place as Hughes.
"Now when I look at this incident and think about it, I can’t do anything more but thank God that Lara was safe.
"Kirsten also got a nasty cut on his face and blood was gushing out and I held his head and was relieved to know he was okay.
"So these things happen and I will say I was fortunate.”
However, to call for a complete ban on giving batsmen chin music would be unfair on the bowlers with the sport already heavily tilted in favour of batsmen, he said. “It was the impact at an unfortunate area that let to Hughes’ death. People don’t die because of such deliveries; everyone in some time of their career has been hit by such deliveries.
“Just imagine cricketers who have got hit at 155km/h by my bowling and survived. Once you are playing such a sport, you should also be aware of the consequences that come with it.”
Like others, Akhtar too expressed concern as to how the incident would affect Abbott’s career and said it would take him a long time to recover. “I’m really feeling for that young chap who was there just doing his job. All of a sudden, this happened and we should feel sorry for him.
“I tell you the bowler only bowls bouncers to outdo a batsman, not to hit them. I personally have never enjoyed it when I see someone go down and bleed because of my delivery. I feel very sad for Abbott; imagine the trauma that he is going through right now,” said Akhtar.
“I never enjoyed hitting someone with a bouncer; I have always run towards them and held them as I didn’t want to be scarred for life. Hopefully, people around Abbott will make him understand it was no fault of his and make sure he comes out it quickly and move on and, also, the game of cricket has to move on.”