There has been no shortage of superstars to turn out for Pakistan over the years, with some of the country’s finest talents proving the most naturally gifted players to have ever taken up the game.
Here, we whittle down the list to the top 10.
‘Boom Boom’ is one of the most-loved cricketers, not just in Pakistan, but around the globe. A real crowd favourite, the all-rounder changed the limited-overs game as we know it when he smashed the fastest ODI century off just 37 balls back in 1996 at the age of 16. Still holds the record for most T20I wickets (97), too.
The Sultan of Swing, the left-armer is one of the all-time greats, with his pace and ability to move the ball probably still giving retired batsmen nightmares now. Perhaps the mastermind to Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup success, he also claimed 414 Test wickets in a career which helped redefine the art of fast bowling.
Pakistan’s answer to Rahul ‘the Wall’ Dravid, this man could bat and bat he did. His retirement last year left a huge hole in Pakistan cricket, which will remain for a long while yet. The scorer of 10,099 Test runs – more than anyone else for the Green Army – makes him one of the most decorated batsman to have ever played the game.
There have been few sights in cricket better than seeing the man nicknamed the Rawalpindi Express steam in and bowl fast. One of only a select band of pacemen to have broken the 100mph barrier and more, Akhtar was so quick in the mid-2000s that some batsmen said they couldn’t even see his deliveries.
The run machine and captain led Pakistan to the top of the Test rankings for the first time in August 2016 and can be largely credited for his country’s successes in recent years. After a late and stop-start beginning to his fully-fledged international career, Misbah played well into his 40s and is one of the most respected Pakistan cricketers ever.
In tandem with Akram, the Burewala Express bowled with blistering speed and harnessed the ability to move the ball both ways off the deck. A player with real leadership skills and charisma, he was the youngest Test captain for Pakistan, aged 22 back in 1993. Took 789 international wickets in a stellar career.
Known more nowadays for his political career, the legendary all-rounder led his team to World Cup glory against England and was one of Pakistan’s first genuine all-rounders. A real hero for millions of people, the cricketing nation have probably not produced a player of his ilk since his heyday.
An intimidating batsman with real authority at the crease, he was both the mortar and cement in the Pakistani middle-order for over a decade. Scored over 20,000 runs combined in Tests and ODIs – and was nigh-on impossible to get out when he got going. Now chief selector of the team, he is still one of the most notable figures around.
To this day, Pakistan fans are still celebrating his last-ball six which clinched a famous victory against India in the Austral-Asia Cup final in Sharjah in 1986. Fondly remembered as one of the best and most technically gifted batsman in cricket history, he could control games and caress matches in ways others couldn’t.
Distinctive for wearing spectacles when he played, he was one of the pioneers of attacking cricket for Pakistan in the one-day game and his 47.62 average with the bat from 62 matches was well ahead of the era in which he played in (1970s and 1980s). A cult figure who would get in most XIs.
The express pacer’s appointment was confirmed by PCB chief Najam Sethi on Friday through his Twitter handle.
“Shoaib Akhtar has been appointed Advisor to Chairman on Cricket Affairs/Brand Ambassador PCB,” the seasoned administrator wrote.
Shoaib Akhtar has been appointed Advisor to Chairman on Cricket Affairs/Brand Ambassador PCB
— Najam Sethi (@najamsethi) February 16, 2018
On his part, the man fondly nicknamed as the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ said he was honoured to take up the key positions in Pakistan cricket and looked forward to getting started.
“Looking forward to work with Najam Sethi and PCB to take Pakistan cricket to the next level,” Akhtar wrote in response to the chairman’s tweet.
— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) February 16, 2018
“I am honored to be chosen for these positions in PCB (and) will work with same passion as I did when playing. Thank you once again,” he added.
— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) February 16, 2018
The appointment comes as a surprise to many after Akhtar’s public criticism of Sethi’s management previously. The former stalwart had taken aim at the entire PCB management following Pakistan’s exit in the ICC 2015 World Cup. He has had several run-ins with the board during his 14-year-old international career between 1997 and 2011.
The 42-year-old played 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is for Pakistan, picking up 444 wickets across all three formats.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi has stated his management is considering moving its ‘home’ base from the UAE to Malaysia in future for the Pakistan Super League and even international matches.
In an interview to Geo News programme ‘Score’, Sethi said he is finding it difficult to provide a long-term commitment to the UAE as the emirate is also a possible venue for the inaugural Afghanistan T20 league, along with other tournaments it already hosts. It must be remembered that earlier the PSL had to fight for space with the now-defunct Masters Champions League in 2016 in the UAE.
The chairman said he will travel to Malaysia in the first week of March to look at possible venues as it would cut PCB’s expenses “in half”.
“I am going to Malaysia to see their grounds. If the needed arrangements are agreed upon, having Malaysia as a home venue would cut our costs in half,” Sethi told Geo News.
Pakistan has already started the process of bringing international cricket back to the country. Pakistan is set to host the final of the upcoming Pakistan Super League in Karachi along with two playoffs in Lahore.
International cricket in Pakistan was suspended after a 2009 militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore which killed eight people and injured seven visiting players.
Pakistan’s national team has since played nearly all its home matches in the UAE.
The final of the PSL last year was played in Lahore. That was followed by three T20s against a World XI in September, and one T20 against Sri Lanka in October – all in Lahore.