Shoaib Akhtar recalled an incident when he startled South African batsmen with breath-taking pace.
Garry Kirsten vouched for Akhtar's ability and told the latter that he would definitely play for Pakistan in future.
Former Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Akhtar has revealed an interesting anecdote when he made an everlasting impression on Garry Kirsten even before the beginning of his international career.
Kirsten was awe-struck by Akhtar’s bowling, and the former was also ready to vouch for the pacer’s inclusion in the national side.
During 1994/95 Wills Triangular Series, a tournament contested between South Africa, Pakistan and Australia, Akhtar was among the bowlers invited to bowl in the nets. He recalled how the Proteas stars were bamboozled after playing his few deliveries.
“I became a net bowler for the South Africans. So, the South Africans came up to me, I remember very clearly, there is one gentleman called Gary Kirsten, and Jonty Rhodes,” Akhtar said on the Test Match Special podcast.
“They said, ‘Would you like to be a good net fast bowler against us?’ I said, ‘Yes sir, I can do that for you [and] very soon, you’ll remember me, that I’ll be playing against you guys.’ They said, ‘So, how’s that?’ And I just asked them to face me, he added.
It took another three years for the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ to make his debut for the national side. He played his first Test against West Indies in 1997 at his home ground in Rawalpindi.
Akhtar, however, rued the fact that he didn’t get a call from national selectors when he was at the peak of his power.
“I then bowled a couple of balls at Gary Kirsten and he said, ‘Oh my Lord, you should have been in the team rather than in the nets.’ I asked if I’m capable enough to be a great fast bowler,” Akhtar asserted.
“He [Garry Kirsten] said, ‘You must be kidding me. I am going to vouch for you in the Pakistan dressing room that you should play.’ And Pakistan, what they did is play me four years later. So, I lost my peak there.”