To add another twist to the woes of the Pakistan Cricket Team. NDTV has just released an exclusive interview with a retired Indian Army officer attached to the Pakistani team during the Champions Trophy where he has revealed that Shoaib Akhtar had slapped coach Bob Woolmer on the team bus, in a tussle over which music should be played on the stereo.
“The boys were listening to Hindi songs when Bob Woolmer removed an iPod and put on an English song. Shoaib got up and again changed the music, putting on a Hindi song. Woolmer first kept quiet and then started making fun of the song. This was too much for Shoaib who suddenly got up and gave Woolmer a tight slap. Everyone was stunned and quickly intervened” – Colonel Anil Kaul
Hours after the incident, the Pakistan team announced that Shoaib and Mohammed Asif were being sent back home after a failed dope test.
Upon questioning Shoaib he has vehemently denied these allegations by saying “Why would I slap anyone? I have never argued with the coach and neither do I have any thing with Woolmer on which I would argue. There was probably an argument, a difference of opinions but never anything as serious as raising my hand on someone. There is nothing to this, these are all concocted stories. I have a very good relationship with Bob.” [cricinfo]
While Bob Woolmer confirmed this version and denied that Shoaib was sent back for any reason other than the doping charges. “The story just isn’t true. I don’t have an iPod and anyway it was a cellphone with music on it. I didn’t have any way of changing the song. We joked about the music but at no stage did Shoaib slap me. We were just having a laugh. He was sent back because of the doping issue and nothing else.” Bob Woolmer [cricinfo]
If this was not enough reports have surfaced of another Shoaib Akhtar brawl a day earlier at a disco after forcibly trying to dance with a girl. “The chief liaison officer went and got them out of the hotel where they were trapped. But then Shoaib went to the floor where the Indian team was staying and started banging on the doors. He accidentally banged on the door of Indian coach Greg Chappell and his wife came out, dressed in her nightclothes. Shoaib made some comments about her. The next morning, I was having breakfast with the Pakistani team manager when Woolmer stormed in. He said even Chappell has complained about Shoaib and strict action must be taken,” Kaul further said. [NDTV]
With all this going on I have no sympathies for the two year ban on Shoaib Akhtar and truly believe its good riddance. As regards to Bob Woolmer, he continues to take a beating at the hands of a number of ex-cricketers specially the likes of giant names like Javed Miandad, Rashid latif & Moin Khan amongst many, contrary to their opinion I feel Woolmer can easily be credited to have brought the fighting spirit back into the team. Miandad should forget about the dream of ever coaching the Pakistan team and stick to his talk show where he may one day shatter the Coke glass with the shirl in his voice.
Pakistan team needs to huddle up, concentrate and believe in their talents, that alone will be the magical potion to their success even without Mohammed Asif. (note: I intentionally did not mention Akhtar as he has always remained a pain in the arse)