Lahore: Controversial Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar is to travel the country, playing cricket in the streets in a bid to talent spot young players and groom them for success. Akhtar, who retired from international cricket last year, had a career troubled by injuries, a dope scandal and disciplinary problems. The 36 year old and former captain Moin Khan will now embark on a seven-city tour of Pakistan as part of a programme launched by a soft-drink company.
The stars will each be part of two teams that will play matches in the street in order to spot young talent."I want to return to my country what it gave me," Akhtar said during the launch. "I want to serve the game in Pakistan because we have a lot of talent in the street." Akhtar dismissed as "speculation" local media reports that he intends to return to international cricket. He retired after last year's World Cup jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. "I am not returning and just focusing on this programme." Akhtar, who bowled the fastest recorded ball in the history of cricket in 2003 at 161 kph (100 mph), took 178 wickets in 46 Tests and 247 in 163 one-days.