Cricket: Shoaib's solemn pledge to Trent Bridge

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SHOAIB AKHTAR arrived at Trent Bridge yesterday and declared that Nottinghamshire's fortunes would change next season. The world's fastest bowler is relishing the prospect of trying to revive the county that will be playing Second Division cricket in both league competitions.

Shoaib, who replaces Vasbert Drakes as the overseas player at Trent Bridge, is not deterred by Nottinghamshire's plight. "There is obviously a big job to be done because Notts haven't performed that well this year, but I am one who relishes a challenge," said the 24-year-old Pakistan paceman at yesterday's news conference. "I have been in a Pakistan team that is used to winning and I like to play positive cricket, so I am sure I can help get the club back on the right track again."

Shoaib admitted that he had followed the advice of the former Pakistan captain Imran Khan. "He told me it would do me a power of good to play under a legend like Clive Rice and that certainly had a bearing on my decision," he said.

Shoaib is not concerned about the demands after a busy winter schedule in which he tours Australia and the West Indies with Pakistan. "I know it will be a big strain on my body but I also know it will help me to develop as a fast bowler because I am still on a steep learning curve," he said. "Notts can rest assured that I'm not going to come here, pick up the money and not give it everything. That's not my style."

Shoaib recently pulled out of a tournament in Toronto due to a shoulder injury, but says the problem is not serious.

Rice, the county's cricket manager, is excited by Shoaib's singing. "He'll sort out the men from the boys," he said. "He has the capacity to have three or four of them out before a ball is bowled because a lot of batsmen won't be relishing the prospect of facing someone who can bowl at nearly 100 miles per hour."