Shoaib Akhtar has explained the altercation that led to his fine of US$2500 in a disciplinary hearing last week, by saying that his coach, Bob Woolmer, had accused him of feigning the injury that led to his withdrawal from Pakistan's tour of South Africa.
Shoaib, 31, who also failed a dope test last year but was cleared on appeal, was not originally selected for the Pakistan squad on fitness grounds. He was belatedly called up, however, after Umar Gul suffered a twisted ankle, and arrived in time to play a winning hand in the second Test at Port Elizabeth. But after taking 4 for 36 on the first day of the game, he limped out of the tour with a hamstring strain.
It had been Shoaib's first appearance in Test cricket for 12 months, but in a further twist to his latest saga, television footage showed him pushing Woolmer and exchanging heated words. He was later fined for his actions by the team manager, Talat Ali.
"Woolmer thought I feigned injury which led to our altercation," Shoaib told reporters in Lahore. "I apologised to Woolmer and he also said a few soft words with me and the matter was closed. Whenever someone doubts my commitment my soul gets hurt, it's worse than any physical injury."
This is not the first time Shoaib has been accused of feigning injury. He had to undergo medical tests after he suffered a hamstring injury during Pakistan's third Test defeat against India three years ago. The Pakistan team's management, including Inzamam-ul-Haq and the former coach, Javed Miandad, doubted the severity of his injury.
It prompted the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to launch a medical inquiry into the fast bowler, although Akhtar was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing as the medical examinations proved his injury was genuine.
Shoaib said he had offered to bowl through the pain 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," he said. "I am 80 percent fit and am working hard to be fit for the World Cup."
Wasim Bari, Pakistan's chief selector, who came under criticism for not selecting Shoaib in the original squad, said he would not make any premature decision. "The PCB has now formed a medical panel," said Bari, "and only after it clears Shoaib we can consider him for the future matches."