No special treatment for Shoaib, says Pakistan manager

Published: Saturday, February 8, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Pakistan's World Cup manager Shaharyar Khan on Saturday played down reports that he had sanctioned a personal doctor to look after fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar. The Pakistani media has slammed the special treatment meted out to the mercurial paceman after sports medicine expert Tauseef Razzaq was added to the squad on Shoaib's request. "It's totally wrong to believe that Shoaib is being treated by a separate doctor, but yes he is someone special on the field," Khan, a former diplomat said.

"Since Shoaib bowls so fast and his limbs come under so much pressure, doctors pay more attention to him but it is not that Razzaq works only on him. "Razzaq is there for all the players," Khan insisted even though another doctor Riaz Ahmed and Australian physiotherapist Dennis Wright are already with the squad. Razzaq is on the medical panel of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which has been kept busy over the last 12 months following injuries to top players like Wasim Akram, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Saeed Anwar.

Before the squad left for South Africa, former captain Imran Khan criticized the inclusion of extra support staff, but Razzaq was fully backed by PCB chairman Tauqir Zia. "Shoaib is an asset and Razzaq has worked wonders on him," Zia said last month. "I am very satisfied with the doctor's work." Shoaib, one of the world's fastest bowlers, is being seen as a key weapon in Pakistan's World Cup campaign. Australian captain Ricky Ponting and prolific opener Matthew Hayden said this week that Shoaib had to be tackled well if the defending champions were to win Tuesday's key game at the Wanderers. The temperamental Shoaib's erratic behaviour has often worried the team's administrators.

He reportedly walked out on the team before the Morocco Cup in August last year to play village cricket in England. He also missed Pakistan's two Tests against South Africa late last year due to injury, but instead of returning home for treatment he attended a function for visiting Indian film stars in Durban. Shoaib, however, remains unperturbed by the off-field controversy. "As long as I am doing my best for the team, the rest doesn't matter and does not bother me."

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