End of the road for Shoaib?

He’s managed to get himself sent home from the Twenty20 World Cup after an incident with Mohammad Asif in which he is alleged to have hit Asif with a cricket bat. Pakistan’s cricket authorities can be very forgiving, but you have to wonder if that won’t be the end of Shoaib, at least for the time being. It’s a shame, because in his pomp, Shoaib Akhtar was a magnificent sight, the very model of a modern speed demon. He made a major impression on the world stage in the 1999 World Cup and he impressed Australians like Steve Waugh on the need for speed in an attack, thus paving the way for the career of Brett Lee.

The Shoaib and Asif farce

I’ve been out of action for a few days drinking my bodyweight and trying to ignore the fact I’m now closer to 30 than 20. Not to mention a flurry of “you’re halfway to 50 you old bastard” texts.

What better way to cure my groggy mind than to understand the Shoaib and Asif affair?

    They test positive for Nando Bannedo
    They are banned
    The ban is overturned. Lots of people go mentalist at the decision
    Somehow, they “avoid” a PCB dope test (last week). That was clever
    They both pick up a couple of injuries. Smoke and mirrors
    Off to the airport. The team all sing reggae in the bus, Inzamam on the steel drums
    Oh but hang on, the injuries are too bad, too serious. GET OFF THE BUS NOW

“The truth is both of them are injured and they may take even months to make a full recovery,” Nasim Ashraf said, with fingers, arms and legs firmly crossed. “The board’s medical panel will soon check them out but the chances of them recovering quickly from their injuries is very bleak.”

Complete and utter farce. But they’re not banned, they’re injured. Just in case you forget.

In other (non-Ashes) news…

There’s more cricket then the Ashes going on. Just to keep everyone up to date….

Sri Lanka play New Zealand in a two-Test series starting this morning NZ time. A thoughtful bit of scheduling, that, to not clash with the Second Test. The good news from a neutral point of view is that Shane Bond is actually still fit despite playing in the Champions Trophy, so his performance will be worth looking out for. Sadly, I don’t think he’ll ever get recognised for what he could have been- the best bowler in the world, when he’s fit and firing.

Sri Lanka have a real fast bowling find of their own in Lasith Malinga, who seems to have come on in leaps and bounds as well. Given that Chaminda Vaas isn’t getting any younger, it’s time for Malinga to stand up, and given the constant problems New Zealand have in their top order, he can really cash in.

****

Pakistan can’t stay out of the news, with the drugs ban on Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif being overturned. With all the Ashes excitement, I do not know enough about the case to comment, but it certainly will be a shot in the arm for Pakistan to have them back in the side. They weren’t needed in the first ODI against the West Indies, but there is four more to come.

And it is past time that West Indies fired up and made a statement and went out and won this series. I’ve seen a lot of West Indies in the past few months, and while they keep promising, they still haven’t actually delivered anything. There seems to be a new spirit in West Indies cricket, but they remain fragile; the onus is on them to prove that they can roll with the punches, otherwise they’ll be bit-players at their own party when the World Cup comes along.