27/07/06 – Cricket: World’s fastest bowler to play for Berkswell

CraigyB writes,

“Shoaib Akhtar, widely lauded as the fastest bowler in world cricket is on his way to Balsall Common to play cricket for Berkswell Cricket Club.

The 30 year old Pakistani pace bowling legend is undergoing rehabilitation following a stress fracture to his ankle. The injury, which has kept him out of competitive cricket for approximately 5 to 6 months has meant Pakistan needed to devise an imaginative plan to get him fit enough to take part in the 4th and final Test for Pakistan against England at the Oval in August.

As a result Bob Woolmer, Pakistan’s Head Coach and former architect of Warwickshire’s 1994 treble winning side, decided Shoaib needed some preparation matches in English conditions. This led him him to approach his former club Warwickshire about managing Shoaib’s rehabilitation which he wished to include a glimpse of club cricket in the Birmingham League.

When Warwickshire scouted round the league they discovered the most clubs already had their allowable ‘quota’ of overseas professionals. Once the vetting was complete, the presence of former Warwickshire star Dominic Ostler at Berkswell swung Woolmer’s decision to authorise Akhtar’s move to the relatively unknown club.

Akhtar makes his first (and probably only) appearance for Berkswell when they host Telford based league leaders St George’s at Meeting House Lane on Saturday 5th August at 12.30pm.

Dominic Ostler awaits instructions from Bob Woolmer as to how many overs Shoaib can bowl, but considers whatever he gets will be a bonus.

“I’m looking forward to the game, I think we can expect a big crowd, there’s a big Pakistani community in the Birmingham area who’d love to see him and the added bonus for us is we don’t have to pay him. Pakistan just need him to get some overs under his belt”.

Berkswell’s players are excited about playing with Shoaib and club stalwart Patrick Milnes, whom in his pomp roughed up batsmen with deliveries of genuine pace, confidently predicts a few nerves among the St Georges batsmen when they see the Rawalpindi Express warming up before the game.

“I think they’ll be slightly terrified, but at least they’ll be able to tell their grandchildren they faced Shoaib Akhtar if they survive”.

See today’s Daily Telegraph article for more about when the brummies faced Shoaib.