Shoaib delighted by Hampshire offer, to replace Warne
Published: Friday, March 7, 2003, 0:07 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
Sachin played out of his skin, gave us nightmare: Akhtar
Johannesburg: Pakistani tearaway Shoaib Akhtar confirmed on Thursday he had been approached by English county side Hampshire to play for it next season in place of disgraced spinner Shane Warne. "They offered me a contract a few days ago through my agent Gary Millere and I was happy to accept," the 27-year-old Shoaib told said. "The deal has yet to be signed but I will probably go to Hamshire next week for a fitness test. "I am delighted to play county cricket again after missing a season with Nottinghamshire in 2000 due to injury. The legendary Imran Khan always stressed it was good to play county cricket since it helped to polish up one's game." Shoaib added he had sought permission from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to play in England during the summer. The world's fastest bowler, nicknamed the Rawalpindi Express, took six wickets in Pakistan's unsuccessful bid to reach the Super Sixes stage of the World Cup. During Pakistan's game against England at Cape Town, Shoaib sent down the fastest recorded ball of all time to Nick Knight at 101.2 miles per hour and then made 43, the highest by a number 11 batsman in the history of One-day cricket. Warne has a two-year contract as captain of Hampshire but was banned from all cricket for a year by the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) last month after testing positive for a banned duiretic. Warne decided not to appeal the ban imposed on him after the ACB judged his evidence to their hearing was "vague, unsatisfactory and inconsistent". Warne told the committee he took a diuretic given to him by his mother to look good for a press conference on January 22 to announce his retirement from international One-day cricket. Warne withdrew from the World Cup ahead of his team's first match against Pakistan on February 11. Two other Pakistanis, Azhar Mahmood and Saqlain Mushtaq, will play for Surrey next season. Shahid Afridi is reportedly in talks with Derbyshire.