Shoaib Akhtar stirred up a major controversy when he launched his autobiography — Controversially Yours — here on Friday.
The Pakistan speedster has confessed to having tampered with the ball and also questioned the class and temperament of India's batting icons, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Akhtar has dismissed Tendulkar thrice in Tests and five times in ODIs.
Akhtar claims that Tendulkar was “scared to face his scorching pace” even on a slow Faisalabad track in 2006.
He wrote, “I bowled (Sachin) a particularly fast ball which he, to my amazement, didn't even touch. He walked away! That was the first time I saw him walk away from me — that, too, on the slow track at Faisalabad.”
He mocked at Tendulkar and Dravid's greatness, saying the two lacked the art of finishing matches.
“I think players like Sachin and Rahul weren't exactly match-winners to start with, nor did they know the art of finishing a game,” he observes in his book.
Meanwhile, when asked by some television channels about Akhtar's remark, Tendulkar declined to comment. “It is below my dignity to react to Shoaib's comment,” he said.
In his book, Akhtar says, “Vivian Richards, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara and the likes of them are great batsmen who dominated with the bat and were truly match-winners. Initially, when I bowled against Sachin, I found these qualities missing. He might have had more runs and records, but he lacked the ability to finish the game.”
On his fellow Pakistan fast bowlers, Akhtar noted, “Almost all Pakistani fast bowlers have tampered with the ball. I may be the first one to openly admit to it but everybody is doing it. To be honest, every team in the world tampers with the ball. We probably started it but no team is innocent and virtually every fast bowler does it. That is the only way to survive because the wickets are so slow.”
Akhtar, who retired during the last World Cup, reveals in the book how he worked on the ball during the three-nation tournament in Sri Lanka after the 2003 World Cup.
“I have tampered with the ball on many occasions,” he admits. He also alleges that a Pakistan bowler switched the ball in the umpires' pocket with one that reversed like crazy.
Akhtar also offers a solution to the problem of ball tampering. “The only way to stop this is for the ICC to ensure that at least some pitches are prepared in favour of the bowlers.”
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has slammed the Pakistan paceman. “I do not know what Akhtar is up to and what made him say that. If you talk about Sachin, I would say he is the best cricketer in India.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan board distanced itself from Akhtar's remarks, saying he was no longer associated with the board and was free to do whatever he wants.