Kevin Pietersen has recalled how Shoaib Akhtar was triggered by an Andrew Flintoff sledge during the ICC Super Series in 2005, with the Pakistan speedster then launching the perfect riposte on England’s tour of Pakistan later that year.
Chatting on Instagram with Pommie Mbangwa, Pietersen revealed how Akhtar was pumped up in the Test series against England, calling the Pakistani quick’s pace “frightening” to face.
“[My] first proper tour abroad was Pakistan, straight after the 2005 Ashes,” Pietersen said. “That was frightening, the speed Shoaib Akhtar bowled in that series, my goodness. We played the World Series [Super Series] in Australia a couple of weeks before that, and I remember sitting at MCG – we were the World XI and we had everyone: [Brian] Lara, [Muttiah] Muralitharan, [Andrew] Flintoff, [Graeme] Smith, [Jacques] Kallis. I was sitting there going, ‘Oh my goodness, should I be sitting here, let alone be playing in this team?'”
Pietersen, who had made his international debut the same year, witnessed Flintoff take on his own World XI teammate during practice, with the England all-rounder comparing Akhtar to the fictional character Tarzan.
“I remember it was quite funny – Shoaib was struggling with his knee, and he wasn’t bowling as quick. And Freddie turned to him and said, ‘Shoaib, it’s no use looking like Tarzan and bowling like Jane, buddy’. And you could see Shoaib took this to heart.”
A fiery Akhtar proceeded to snare 17 scalps in three Tests when England then visited Pakistan in December, the most from either side, and was the only bowler to take a five-wicket haul in the series won 2-0 by the hosts.
“My goodness, the speed that Shoaib Akhtar bowled in that series. Oh my word, crazy. He was bowling faster at 5 o’clock in the afternoon than what he was bowling in the morning!”