Former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has opened up on the infamous match-fixing episode of the 1990s which threatened to rock the cricket world. The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ shed light into the dressing room atmosphere of the highly mercurial Pakistan side of the decade and went on to reveal that the menace of fixing was at its peak during the 1996 season.
Speaking to Geo News, the 41-year old denied having ever been involved in those nefarious activities amidst claims of warning pacer Mohammad Amir prior to the 2010 spot fixing saga. He also implored Javed Miandad and Shahid Afridi to put aside their differences and settle the dispute outside court so as to not open the Pandora’s box.
When asked to comment on the impact of match-fixing on the team morale, Akhtar admitted, “The atmosphere of the Pakistan dressing room was very strange. Trust me, it was the worst possible dressing room.”
The fast bowler made his international debut in a Test against West Indies at Rawalpindi during November 1997 and played 46 matches with 178 wickets at an average of 25.69 and also played in 163 ODIs which fetched him 247 wickets at an average of 24.97. A tear away who never compromised on pace despite being plagued by a slew of injuries, the right arm bowler was one of the quickest bowlers in the sport's history.
The Miandad-Afridi spat
Last week, Miandad had ignited a major controversy by publicly rebuking Afridi’s desire for a farewell match. The maverick batsman responded by accusing the former skipper of being money-minded. A disgruntled Javed took the spat into the unmanageable zone after insisting, “I tell Afridi to swear upon his children and say he has not thrown away Pakistan's matches. I am a witness, I caught him myself.”
When the confrontation began to draw the ire of several past and present Pakistani players, the duo patched things up under mysterious circumstances. Akhtar reiterated, “To resolve the matter through talks was the most possible solution. I spoke to Afridi and Javed bhai to settle the matter outside court. If it would have gone to the court, then a lot of names would have cropped up.”
He added, “My main concern was that. I told Afridi not to send a legal notice and advised Javed bhai to keep control of his anger and not say anything controversial in public. He exceeded limits by uttering unnecessary things.”
Though the 1990s witnessed numerous star cricketers at the peak of their careers, the decade was also notorious for the prevalence of deplorable activities which came into full public view through the Qayyum report.