South African great Shaun Pollock has revealed that his side used to breathe a collective sigh of relief every time Shoaib Akhtar was done with his bowling spell.
Pollock, in a podcast with Sky Sports Cricket, said that his teammates used to monitor Pakistan captain’s signals to gauge how long Akhtar was going to remain in the bowling attack.
“When batting, we used to watch the Pakistan captain to see how many overs Shoaib Akhtar had left in his spell,” Pollock said.
“When he’d get the signal that he was out of the attack, we would think, Yes!”
He also compared facing Aussie quick Brett Lee and Akhtar, saying that playing against the latter on dead sub-continent wickets was more difficult.
“Playing fast-bowlers on different surfaces made a huge difference. When playing Brett Lee in Perth, Australia, although he was blitz, we felt we could hang back or go down when he bowled short. But when facing Akhtar, in the sub-continent, we could not do that because of lack of bounce.
“There was a chance we could get a yorker or a beamer at some stage. When he got his inswinging yorkers wrong, they used to come hip and chest high.”
Pollock also highlighted the change in attitude of fast bowlers with the introduction of speed guns, saying that it encouraged Akhtar and others to aim for greater bowling speeds.
“The speed gun brought a different dimension to fast bowling because all of a sudden now you had something through which you could register how quick you were on the field,” he said.
“You always feared the fast bowlers you played against and we had Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee at that time. They were the ones trying to gun for 160 [kph].”