Hailed as one of the fastest bowlers of all time – Pakistan speed merchant Shoaib Akhtar was known to instill a sense of fear among the best of the batsmen. When fully fit and in rhythm, Akhtar was easily the toughest bowler to face in world cricket. Never short of energy or passion, the ‘Rawalpindi Express’, as he is fondly known as, was known to be a fiery customer, often engaging in on-field spats or verbal altercations with his opponents.

Recalling one such incident, the 46-year-old former pacer shared another interesting story of his banter with former Australia opener and now newly-appointed coach of Pakistan cricket team Matthew Hayden. In 2000s, Akhtar and Hayden were at the peak of their powers. The duo had a fiery attitude and had a knack for going after each other every once in a while. During Pakistan’s 2004-05 tour of Australia, Akhtar and Hayden had a few run-ins with each other.

“He never enjoyed my fame and I never enjoyed his personality. I always told him that I’m better looking than you [laughs]. The Test match started in Perth and he was out leg-before and I was fined ten percent for that send-off,” the 46-year-old Akhtar told PTV Sports in an exclusive interview.

During the three-match Test series, Akhtar dismissed Hayden thrice cheaply and get under his skin with bowling pacy and short pitch deliveries. However, Pakistan lost the series 0-3 against Australia.

“Then he was leaving me [outside off] from round the wicket, where you can get the ball to swing in big. He got bowled. Then in Melbourne, he got out again. In Sydney, he got stuck and never got going. He couldn’t do anything in those three Test matches. He started crying,” said Akhtar.

However, the relations between the two stalwarts improved drastically after their respective retirement from the game. Akhtar narrated his experience of working with Hayden during IPL in India. “Then in India, I was working for Star Sports. Matthew Hayden was there as well. We kept a distance since we had a lot of clashes in the past. One day, I asked him to have dinner with me. After dinner, I had to drop him off at his hotel.

“He forgot his hotel keys at the place where we had our dinner. We went back, got the keys and dropped him off. I told him that at least he should stay at a better place. I’m staying at a five-star hotel and you’re here. He said, “What the hell are you talking about?”

“He sent me a text when we finished off the stint and he said, “the guy I was dreading for all my life, I couldn’t realize he was one of the nicest guys I was missing out.”

Recently, Mathew Hayden and ex-South Africa pacer Vernon Philander have been appointed as coaches of the Pakistan cricket team for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman. The appointments were announced by the newly-elected Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja in Lahore.

Akhtar feels Hayden’s appointment can work wonders for the Pakistan side in the T20 World Cup. “He has a great mindset and he played in that era where we talk about that mindset. Ramiz bhai’s idea is that if he can inject about 30-40% of that mindset, it will be a lot better,” the former Pakistan pacer said.