Pakistan's Akhtar a transformed talent
by AFP

Player:Inzamam-ul-Haq, VS Solanki, Shoaib Akhtar
Event:England in Pakistan 2005/06

DateLine: 7th December 2005


England one-day specialist Vikram Solanki has praised Shoaib Akhtar for reinventing himself as a lethal Test bowler in the series triumph over England.


And he has also dismissed claims the Pakistani paceman is a trouble-maker.


"Shoaib is a very interesting character, quite a unique type of a guy and his cricketing abilities have been proved in the recent series, and I didn't have any problems with him," Solanki, captain at Worcestershire where he had Akhtar as a team-mate this year, told reporters.


"A change from 90 miles (144 kilometres) an hour to slower deliveries was quite impressive. He has exceptional talent and sometimes people expect lot from him. He is a fairly smart cricketer," Solanki added.


A transformed Akhtar took 17 wickets in Pakistan's 2-0 series win over England which finished with an innings and 100-run win in the third and final Test here last week.


Akhtar's career had been at the crossroads after he missed Pakistan's last two series against India and the West Indies and his commitment was questioned by coach Bob Woolmer and captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.


But he stamped his class on the emphatic win over Ashes winners England.


Solanki regretted recent comments by Worcestershire county chairman John Elliott who blamed Akhtar for creating problems during his stint with the county this year.


"It was unfortunate that sort of comments were made. Shoaib has obviously worked very hard on his fitness and bowled exceptionally well in the Tests," Solanki said.


Solanki said he was happy to be part of the England one-day squad.


"I am just pleased to be here, it's fantastic to be part of the squad. Obviously I would like to take full part and make best use of the opportunity," he said.


England tune up with a warm-up match against Pakistan A on Wednesday, before taking on Pakistan in the first of five day-night fixtures here on Saturday.


Solanki, the first super substitute since it was implemented in May this year, described the rule as strange.


"It is a very strange rule as it obviously depends on the toss and sometimes you can gauge whether you can play a part in the game or not," he said.


"I think the rule needs some sort of tinkering, but I am not in a position to make judgement, I like to bat high up the order."


The new soccer-style rule permits teams to replace a player at any stage of a one-day match.


The replaced player will be ruled out of the rest of the match while the replacement will be entitled to assume any remaining batting or bowling duties.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)


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