National cricket officials are caught in a catch-22 situation over the inclusion of speedster Shoaib Akhtar in Pakistanâ€™s squad on the ongoing tour of England.
A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official has admitted that the Board is in a dilemma over Shoaibâ€™s participation in
the Test series against England that gets underway with the opening match from July 13 at Lordâ€™s.
â€œWe certainly need him (Shoaib) against England but in the meantime do not want to jeopardise the bowlerâ€™s international career by hastening his comeback,â€ said Abbas Zaidi, PCBâ€™s Director of Board Operations.
Shoaib, 30, is currently fighting a race against time to get match fit after a recurring ankle stress fracture cost him a place in Pakistanâ€™s 16-man squad for England last month.
Zaidi told â€˜The Newsâ€™ that Shoaib himself is confident of making a comeback during the Test contest against England.
Some of the specialists who have treated the enigmatic pacer agree that he has made encouraging progress in recent weeks in a bid to get fit but have warned that an early exposure to international cricket might come as a blow for Shoaib.
â€œShoaib is our main strike bowler and obviously his injury came as a big blow,â€ said Zaidi. â€œBeating England in England will not be easy and to achieve that players like Shoaib can play a big role so there is a temptation that he be sent to join his teammates.
But the cost of doing that could be high, which is why it is a difficult decision to make,â€ said the PCB official.
Shoaib was advised six to eight weeks of rest last month after it was revealed that a fracture he suffered from in the series against England last fall hadnâ€™t healed.
Zaidi said the bowler would be examined by a PCB medical commission within the next couple of days after which the Board would be in a better position to decide whether he could play against England in the Test series.
He said that if the medical commission gives a positive report on his condition then Shoaib could be sent to England for a more speedy recovery. â€œWe could send him to England where they have post-injury rehabilitation facilities. We believe such an exercise can help him attain match fitness faster so that he can join the team sometimes during the Test series,â€ he said.
Zaidi stated that if Shoaib manages to pass a fitness test than he can play for Pakistan as early as in the second Test at Old Trafford from July 27.
Pakistanâ€™s other injured pacer Rana Naved-ul-Hasan also faces a similar situation, as he is to undergo a fitness test later this week in a bid to make the playing eleven for the match at Old Trafford.
Rana suffered from a groin injury while playing a county game for Sussex and remains doubtful to play in the opening two Tests against England.
Source:The NewsMore on:Pakistan, Pakistan in England 2006, PCB, Shoaib Akhtar
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