Karachi : Former Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar has called for ‘Bodyline’ bowling to return to Test cricket and asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) to remove restrictions on the number of bouncers that can be bowled in the wake of two drawn Tests in the ongoing Pakistan v Australia three-match series.Akhtar, who has the fastest recorded legal delivery in Test cricket, added that modern-day cricketers are soft and that he wanted to hurt batsmen in his playing days.”Nowadays, they (modern cricket players) are very soft. I don’t think the aggression is as much there now. I don’t know why. I’m old school, like Ian Chappell. I want unlimited bouncers. Bodyline bowling should be allowed. Why not? I want some character,” Akhtar was quoted as saying by dailymail.co.uk on Saturday.Bodyline bowling has been outlawed for almost 90 years, and bowlers in Test cricket are restricted to two bouncers per over since 1994. Bodyline also called fast-leg theory bowling was employed by the English team during the 1932-33 Ashes.
The tactics involved hurling the ball at the batsman’s body, leaving him with the limited option of hitting straight to a fielder on the leg side or risk taking a nasty blow on the body. It was soon outlawed.
But, with flat pitches being offered in the subcontinent, the West Indies and even in Australia, Akhtar has called for a return of Bodyline to give Test cricket ‘character’.Recalled the infamous 2004/05 Test series in Australia in which he tried to unsettle Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting, Akhtar said, “I gave it to them. In the 2005 series, me and (Justin) Langer got into a fight. Me and (Matt) Hayden got into a fight. It’s verbal, not physical. I wanted to display my talent (and show) that I am better than you.”During the Test match, I thought (if nothing is happening) let’s hurt somebody. That’s why I bowled the fastest spell.
I wanted to see if Ricky can match my pace and I was purposely bowling bouncers (to) see if I could beat him but before that I had never beaten him with my sheer pace.”Had it not been Ricky Ponting… I would have chopped his (the batsman’s) head off because it was furiously fast,” added Akhtar.While not going so far as to demand Bodyline bowling to be legalised, players have demanded result-oriented pitches, which have something for the bowlers. Former Australian skipper Steven Smith has described the pitch for the opening Test in Rawalpindi as “dead and benign”, while Ian Chappell wrote in his column for espncricinfo that, “The last thing the five-day game needs is benign pitches, large first-innings scores, or distinctly uneven matches. Test cricket is a severely challenged format and for the game to prosper it requires serious consultation.”Akhtar also said that he hopes someone would come along and break his record of 161.3 km/h. “I genuinely want to believe that somebody should be out there who is ready to break my record. I’ll be the first person to hug them,” said Akhtar.