Shoaib Akhtar exclusive interview: 'What I had to do to bowl 100mph – and why Mark Wood can too'

Shoaib Akhtar celebrates a wicket - PA
Shoaib Akhtar celebrates a wicket - PA

The legendary Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has a tip for England’s Mark Wood if he wants to join cricket’s exclusive 100mph club: start pulling trucks.

Watching Shoaib bowl was a wild ride, and so is listening to him talk on this week’s Vaughany and Tuffers Cricket Club Podcast.

Shoaib talks through dismissing Sachin Tendulkar for a golden duck in Kolkata in 1998 and the chaos that caused, quarrels with Australia legend Matthew Hayden, his favourite players to hurt, and how Freddie Flintoff “woke me up” with a simple sledge.

It is almost 20 years since the "Rawalpindi Express", now 47, officially broke the 100mph barrier bowling to England’s Nick Knight in the World Cup in South Africa (watch video below).

Now he believes that Wood, who is expected to return to England’s team in Multan this week, can join him in this rare club – but only if he follows his specific training regime that includes attaching vehicles to his waist or shoulders and pulling them.

“Mark Wood, a great looking guy and a lovely human being with a beautiful action, that’s what I like to see!” says Shoaib.

“A couple of things I have noticed. He loses his follow through. Thank god he shortened his run up. He lands on the left foot, and you see often he collapses on the pitch because he cannot control the follow through.

“If he is thinking that he cannot bowl more than 155, he is absolutely wrong there! If he wants to bowl 100mph, he needs to start pulling trucks. I made the pitches about 26 yards. I made a ball about four times heavier than normal. I trained by doing a lot of weights, riding the bicycle with weights on it. I would do about 1000 reps.

“I noticed I developed muscles that I had never been able to touch before. Little did I know that I was losing my knees, bones and cartilage at the same time. Whoever can bowl 150kph has 10ks in reserve, with the right preparation and the right recuperation.”

Mark Wood is England's fastest bowler - AFP
Mark Wood is England's fastest bowler - AFP

Shoaib is full of praise for the enterprising cricket played by England on the flattest of pitches in Rawalpindi last week.

“Pakistan were trying to save the Test match,” he said. “England were trying to save Test cricket. Hats off, what a great approach.

"It was so heartfelt for me that England gave a chance for Pakistan to win the Test match. No regard for everything, they just wanted to go out there and play cricket.

“The decision of the England team won the heart of Pakistan, and people like me had a lot of admiration and praise. They are the team to look out for. You guys helped Pakistan [by returning to the country after 17 years] and are playing like there was no tomorrow, so hats off.

“You guys set up the traditions of playing slow, and now you are changing it! Thank you very much, you have woken up!”

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