The Rawalpindi Express, the ‘bad boy’ of Pakistani cricket and a bit of a loose cannon, there is no denying the fact that we cannot get enough of Shoaib Akhtar.
In a country where cricketers form the top echelon of stardom, he is one of the brightest stars - not without his dark spots though.
Years ago, I came across a video of Shoaib Akhtar relating his experience of his visit to the cities of Najaf and Karbala in an interview with Mira Sethi and I thought - well, this is new. There seemed to be a vulnerability, humility and warmth to this man. And that was possibly our first introduction to Akthar as someone who was spiritually inclined.
Of course, since then his public faux pas and controversies continued and the viewers seem to lap it up - giving rise to this YouTube channel. And while we still see him as the glamorous fast bowler that he was, he seems to be more of an entertainer than ever before.
This is the first in a series put together to document his travels around Pakistan. There seems to be a kind of edgy humility to him, packaged in humor. While,’edgy’ and ‘humility’ seem to be contradictory in terms - Akhtar seems to carry it in his signature style. There is a raw masculinity about him, off set by his boy-ish antics and humour. He carries a classy wardrobe, is concerned about his ‘vanity’ shots but also works like a beast.
While Pakistani cricket is not without it’s history of come-backs, Shoaib Akhtar is an interesting one to watch. Slapped with a ban in 2008 for publicly criticizing the Pakistan Cricket Board and selected for a Twenty20 tournament the same year, following a suspension of the ban, he is no stranger to bouncing back, higher each time. Needless to say, there is still some arrogance in him. But what we see happening slowly to his public persona is a toning down - a humility and an attitude towards service and giving.
Perhaps, he is all those things all at once. One thing is for certain, he has always enjoyed the spotlight and today he is more equipped than ever before to conquer social media unlike any other cricketer.