KARACHI: Shoaib Akhtar’s autobiography may have drawn a lot of criticism and flared tensions in the Indian community but his antics will not affect the renewal of Pakistan-India cricket relations, according to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The former fast-bowler remarked that Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar and former captain Rahul Dravid were not match-winners while also alleging Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan of cheating him regarding payments over his Indian Premier League stint.
The series of claims and remarks were followed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ijaz Butt expressing concern that ties between both boards could be strained.
However, BCCI Vice-President Rajiv Shukla said that while the remarks against his countrymen were ‘uncalled for’, they would not affect plans of the revival of a bilateral series between the two countries.
“The remarks are uncalled for but they will not affect Pakistan, India cricketing relations,” Shukla told The Express Tribune. “We’re not taking offense because these are individual remarks.
“We remain committed in our plans of finalising a series soon and Akhtar’s jibe will not affect this.”
Both countries have not played a series due to strained relations following the 2008 Mumbai attacks, however the chances of a revival of cricketing ties were raised after the situation improved following Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s visit to India.
‘Akhtar hurt Indian fans’
However, the senior BCCI official said Akhtar’s remarks against Indian cricketers and Shahrukh have hurt fans all over the country.
“Tendulkar and Dravid undoubtedly are great cricketers. Shahrukh is also a respected personality.
“Akhtar has hurt the Indian fans with his claims, which are not based on any evidence. There is a strong reaction especially from the cricket fraternity.
“How can he claim that Tendulkar was afraid of him? Has he forgotten the 2003 World Cup where he was hit all over the park by the batting master,” said Shukla, while adding that Akhtar’s remarks on ball-tampering and against former captain Wasim Akram have also damaged the reputation of the great Pakistan fast-bowlers.
“Akhtar had a huge fan base in India and he damaged it by making these claims. He has also damaged the pride of the Pakistan fast-bowlers.”
Shukla said that although the BCCI was dejected on Akhtar’s remarks, the cricket body did not intend to take any legal action against the former bowler.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2011.