Karachi: Maverick former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar’s remarks mocking the state of affairs in Pakistan cricket on a popular Indian comedy show have evoked angry reactions from ex-players and officials here.
Akhtar appeared with off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on the ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’ show in India and some of his stinging remarks about the state of national cricket and his making fun off a former PCB head have not been well received in Pakistan. “I don’t know why he was so critical about Pakistan cricket on an Indian channel because I know that he is a patriotic Pakistani when he played for the national team,” former Test pacer Sarfraz Nawaz said.
The Comedy Nights with Kapil is equally popular among Pakistanis and while it commands high ratings across the border as well, the Akhtar-Harbhajan Singh show in particular got top viewership. “It is unfortunate that our former players behave like this while in a foreign country. What has Akhtar achieved by demeaning our cricket system and officials like this? Was it his way of trying to become popular in India,” an official of the Pakistan Cricket Board told PTI.
“The way he made fun of former Chairman and Test player, Ijaz Butt is disappointing. He is a senior player and he has served Pakistan cricket for long. We don’t expect such behavior from him,” he said. Pakistan’s top cricketers are presently in demand by Indian television channels for the World Cup and are appearing either as commentators, pundits or on special cricket shows. Former captain Shoaib Malik is working for a leading channel while others like Wasim Akram, Rameez Raja and Akhtar are with the official broadcasters of the World Cup.
When contacted Ijaz Butt said neither had he watched the show nor did it make any difference to him what anyone said about him or his leadership qualities. “I don’t bother about such things. Like everyone else I also wanted to see Pakistan cricket move ahead,” he said. Akhtar a controversial and colorful character in Pakistan cricket has also come under fire for some of his stinging remarks about current captain Misbah-ul-Haq, whom he called a “coward” and “selfish” after the team’s opening loss to India in the 50-over showpiece event. After his appearance on the comedy show the social media was also abuzz with clips of the show showing Akhtar ridiculing Pakistan cricket and Butt have gone online with mainly critical and negative comments about the fast bowler.