Islamabad:Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar will leave for England next week to undergo knee surgery and is expected to be sidelined for more than half of Pakistan's premier first-class domestic competition.
"Today I've talked to him and it will take at least six weeks to recover from the surgery," Rashid Iqbal, a spokesman for Akhtar's club KRL, told The Associated Press on Friday.
KRL included Akhtar in the list of 20 probables to play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, which begins Oct. 10.
"Akhtar will miss at least six matches and let's see whether he will play the remaining three group matches for us next month," Iqbal said.
The knee surgery means Akhtar will also miss Pakistan's upcoming series against New Zealand, which begins with limited-overs internationals in United Arab Emirates starting Nov. 3 before the three-Test series in New Zealand.
Akhtar has been out of international cricket since competing in a limited-overs series against Australia in the UAE earlier this year.
The 34-year-old paceman has not played a Test match since Dec. 2007 and has made two unimpressive comebacks in one-day cricket this year.
The PCB awarded Akhtar a category A central contract earlier this year, with a monthly salary of rupees 250,000 ($3,000).
In a recent television interview Akhtar, once the fastest bowler in the game, said he had no intentions of quitting international cricket and believed he could still play for another four to five years.
The injury-prone fast bowler has played just 46 Test matches in a 12-year career and taken 178 wickets. In 144 ODIs he has 223 wickets.