Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is widely regarded as one of the fiercest pacers in the history of the sport. Akhtar holds the record for the fastest delivery ever bowled in international cricket (161kph, against New Zealand in 2002); and constantly touched speeds over 150kph for a large part of his career. However, fitness issues hampered Akhtar on numerous occasions before he eventually called time on his international career in 2011.

In an interview with The Guardian, Akhtar has now claimed that he would have been the “greatest ever” if he had remained fit throughout his career. “Had I been the fittest guy, I would’ve been the greatest ever,” Akhtar told the England newspaper.

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Akhtar faced knee issues for a major part of his career and earlier this year – over 11 years since his international retirement – the former Pakistan pacer continues to have concerns with his knee. He recently underwent knee surgery but Akhtar insisted that he had no regrets over the efforts he put while representing the national team.

“My doctor asked me recently: ‘Shoaib, you are in so much pain right now. Tell me one thing. Was it worth it?’ I said: ‘Doc, every minute of it. It was so worth it,’” Akhtar stated.

The legendary speedster represented Pakistan in 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is in a 14-year-long international career. Since his retirement, Akhtar has taken up commentary and broadcasting roles, and also runs his own YouTube channel.

Pakistan, meanwhile, are set to return to action on December 1 when the side hosts England for the first Test of the three-match series in Rawalpindi. This is England’s first Test tour of the country in 17 years; in their last series in 2005, Akhtar starred with a brilliant outing in the three Tests, taking 17 wickets.

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