||21 April 1976
With the imposition of a one-year ban on him for a suspect bowling action in December 2005, Shabbir Ahmed's career will forever be blighted. He was called after the first Test against England in Multan, the second time in a year and worryingly, the fourth time in his short career. And it will remain a shame for Shabbir's career thus far held a good deal of promise. Not only did he become the joint-fastest Pakistani bowler to 50 Test wickets (with Waqar Younis in 10 Tests), but as a tall (6'5"), gangly fast-medium bowler Shabbir is moulded from different materials altogether than most Pakistani fast men. He extracts a great deal of bounce, even on lifeless wickets, and bowling from close to the stumps - much like Glenn McGrath - allows him to stick to a tight wicket-to-wicket line. He seams and cuts more than he swings, often sharply and both ways and is a sound exponent of reverse swing. He was express when he made his ODI debut, picking up three wickets but he was immediately reported - and has since reduced his pace considerably. His Test career began in impressive style as well with an eight-wicket haul against Bangladesh in Karachi, on a track that offered no assistance to the pace bowlers and in most performances since, around the world, he has picked up wickets and stemmed the flow of runs. A genial, unassuming character who started playing cricket as a batsman, his laidback personality only enhances the poignancy of what has happened to him.