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Pakistani former cricketer Shoaib Akhtar. (File Photo: IANS) by .
Pakistani former cricketer Shoaib Akhtar. (File Photo: IANS)

Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar feels pacers of today do not bowl fast anymore as the laws of the game and the rigours of it don’t provide that space.

Shoaib was the first bowler to break the 100mph mark. He retired in 2011 having taken 444 international wickets across the three formats.

“Ten years ago, bowlers would bowl 155kph (96.3mph) and now they’re all of a sudden bowling 135km/h (83.9mph). We now only have a few real fast bowlers around the world. Back in the day, South Africa alone had six.

“The cricket laws don’t allow you to bowl fast now: two new balls, too much restriction, too much cricket, too many Twenty20 leagues, too much money, too many TV rights,” Shoaib told BBC’s TMS commentator Isa Guha and Aatif Nawaz on the BBC’s Doosra podcast.

“Players are now getting smarter and more focused on money; they want to save their careers and legs and play for 10 years – whereas I would fight for that specific series only, I fought for the day.

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“The laws were more relaxed back then. When they banned us from bowling more than two bouncers I was gutted. I was like: ‘How do you trap the batsman? Where is the bodyline bowling?’

“Please allow me to hit the guy and let him hit me back. This is what you want to see in international cricket. I’m sick of seeing this lame, prim and proper cricket,” said the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ who made history by becoming the first bowler to officially bowl at 100mph during the 2003 World Cup.

“Breaking the 100mph barrier wasn’t a big deal to me. It was just media hype, an international cricket gimmick. I wasn’t getting paid for this – to break my bones trying to bowl that fast,” said Shoaib.

“I just thought: ‘For heaven’s sake, I need to finish this and just do it.’ So I planned it all out, I started training for it.”

“I ran with 170kg weights on my back, taking 20kg off after every 100 metre sprint. I also used to bowl from 26 yards with something much heavier than a cricket ball. When I came back to the 22 yards, I was about 6km/h (3.7mph) quicker.

“I planned to bowl it against Nick Knight. I said to him: “I’m going to hurt you, so make sure you stay out of the way.’ I told him I’d bowl 100mph in that over, on that exact ball,” he added, throwing light to his preparation.

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