|Player:||Shoaib Akhtar, RA Woolmer, Umar Gul|
DateLine: 2nd February 2007
Controversial Pakistani paceman Shoaib Akhtar on Wednesday said coach Bob Woolmer believed he had feigned injury during his short stint in South Africa.
"Woolmer thought I feigned injury which led to our altercation," Akhtar told reporters about an incident on the second day of the Port Elizabeth Test earlier this month. The 31-year-old paceman had to return home after suffering a hamstring injury. He had taken 4-36 on the first day of the second Test, which Pakistan won by five wickets to level the series at 1-1.
South Africa, however, clinched the three-match series by winning the third Test at Cape Town by five wickets. Akhtar, who also received a doping ban last year, was not picked for the 17-man squad initially on fitness grounds. But he was later sent as a replacement after another paceman, Umar Gul, twisted his ankle and was ruled out of the Test series. Ironically, Akhtar's successful return for his first Test in 12 months lasted just one day. He could not bowl in the second innings due to the injury. To add to Akhtar's woes television footage showed him pushing coach Woolmer and exchanging heated words. He was later fined 2,500 dollars after a disciplinary hearing by the team manager Talat Ali. Akhtar said he later apologised to Woolmer. "I apologised to Woolmer and he also said few soft words with me and the matter was closed," he said. "Whenever someone doubts my commitment my soul gets hurt, it's worse than any physical injury," Akhtar added. This was not the first time Akhtar has been accused of feigning injury. He had to undergo medical tests after he suffered a hamstring injury during Pakistan's third Test defeat to arch rivals India three years ago. The Pakistan team's management, including captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and the then coach Javed Miandad, alleged Akhtar had feigned the injury. It prompted the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to launch a medical inquiry into the fast bowler. However, Akhtar was cleared of any wrongdoing as the medical examinations proved his injury was genuine. Akhtar said he offered to bowl by taking pain killing injections after his recent ailment in South Africa. "I was ready to play by having injections but doctors advised against it as they feared it would have ended my chances of playing in the World Cup," said Akhtar. "I am 80 percent fit and am working hard to be fit for the World Cup." Chief selector Wasim Bari, who came under criticism for not selecting Akhtar in the original squad, said he would not take any decision on Akhtar prematurely. "The PCB has now formed a medical panel and only after it clears Akhtar we can consider him for the future matches," Bari told AFP. Bari was expected to fly to South Africa next week to finalise Pakistan's 15-man squad for the World Cup after consultation with Woolmer and Inzamam. The ninth World Cup is scheduled to be held from March 13 to April 28 in the West Indies.