Shahid Afridi (right) had backed Shoaib Akhtar's claim, saying that he had once witnessed Sachin Tendulkar "trembling" while facing the pacer © Getty Images
Shahid Afridi (right) had backed Shoaib Akhtar’s claim, saying that he had once witnessed Sachin Tendulkar “trembling” while facing the pacer © Getty Images


By Benjamin Prabhu


Shoaib Akhtar is no stranger to controversy. He made an entire career out of it. When he was not busy shattering stumps and taking off on airplane celebrations, he spent his time fighting doping charges, chucking scandals, ball tampering allegations and even an unfortunate case of genital warts. He never shared a good equation with most of his team-mates as Mohammed Asif and Inzamam will testify. So what do you expect from him when he is finally unshackled from the restraints of being an active player and is all set to release his autobiography, “Controversially yours”.


Autobiographies need to have controversies if they have to sell. Ask Herschelle Gibbs. In Shoaib’s case, he has served generous dollops of controversy, ranging from candid admissions about ball tampering to passing incendiary comments about Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and some of his own team-mates like Wasim Akram. Lost in the hullabaloo over the Tendulkar-Dravid comments is the fact that Akhtar has generously praised Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni for their leadership skills. But then, again, how do you promote your book’s publicity based on that?


When there is a controversy involving India-Pakistan cricket, can Shahid Afridi be far behind? While most other Pakistani cricketers have rubbished Shoaib’s tales, Afridi has backed him on his observations over Tendulkar, generously adding that Tendulkar’s legs used to ‘shiver’ when facing him. Setting aside the fact that this is hard to visualise, it is mighty impressive that Tendulkar managed to score a brilliant 98 in the 2003 World Cup and some impressive knocks on the tour of Pakistan the following year — all this while suffering from ‘shivering legs syndrome’!


I’m not discussing either Shoaib or Afridi. It is their right to express their opinion, whether most people agree with them or not. If they feel that Tendulkar is scared of Shoaib or that Dravid is not a match-winner, so be it. If you think otherwise, go ahead and express that as well. It is not necessary that everyone should shower glowing praises on Tendulkar, or have unanimously good opinion about Dravid (though it would be hard to differ in this regard!).


The fact is, when people look back 20 or 30 years from now, they will see that the records and accomplishments speak for themselves. There is no need to fly into nationalistic rage and degrade others’ achievements.


It is noteworthy that the men at the centre of the storm — Tendulkar and Dravid — have refused to comment on this, while others speak for and against them. Perhaps, there is a lesson to learn from them here.

(The writings of Benjamin Prabhu (Benny, aka tracer007) are products of a fanatical cricketing mind for over a decade and a half. After a brief stint in school cricket in the 90s, he decided that chasing a red ball around a field in white flannels as a substitute fielder was not really getting him anywhere. He subsequently entered medical school, where he spent half the time learning how not to kill a patient and the rest of the time, sharing his opinions about the state of international cricket to people who had no idea of what he was talking about. Since graduation, he is living in the US, where he chanced upon the world of cricket blogging; and in an instant, an idea to start a cricket blog shot through his brain ‘like a tracer bullet’ and (likeatracerbullet) was born)