Karachi: Former captain Shahid Afridi Sunday said that he did not blow the whistle on the spot-fixing scandal that rocked world cricket during Pakistan’s tour of England in 2010. Having discussed in detail about the spot-fixing scandal in his autobiography ‘Game Changer’, Afridi insisted he did not pass on the information or messages to the tabloid ‘News of the World’ which eventually broke the story.
“These players (Salman Butt, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Aamir) still think that Lala (Afridi) blew the whistle about them to the newspaper that is not true. It was one of my friends in England who passed on the information without informing me and even after that the newspaper carried out its own investigation and sting operation to confirm and trap the players,” Afridi said on a news channel.
Afridi said his former team-mate Abdul Razzaq had first talked about the involvement of some players with fixers when the team was playing the World T20 in West Indies in 2010. “Razzaq kept on telling me after one match against Sri Lanka that he had doubts about Salman Butt but I did not believe him at that time. I said they are like our younger brothers. Later on as fate would have it a damaged mobile which went to a repair shop and whose owner knew my friend in England revealed messages that surprised me and made me suspect that these players were indeed spot-fixing matches,” he said.
Afridi, who retired from international cricket in 2016, said he was hurt and disappointed when Butt’s involvement in the scandal was confirmed as he liked him a lot. He also maintained when he first saw the messages about Butt, Asif and Aamir, he could not sleep for few days and did not have the courage to share it with Razzaq who realised something was wrong.
Asked why he did not confront Butt and the other players about the messages, Afridi said he was let down by the reaction of the team management including Waqar Younis and Yawar Saeed when he first showed them the messages. “It was disappointing for me. My first job was to inform the management, I did that they said ‘beta kya karsakta hai ab (son, what we can do now)’. That is also why I gave up Test cricket and the captaincy and returned home.”
He conceded that the management did try to warn the players not to meet or mix up with suspicious characters like Mazhar Majeed who was also eventually jailed for his role in the spot-fixing scandal. Afridi also revealed why he had supported the comeback of Aamir to the Pakistan team after he completed his ban.
“When the ‘News of the World’ broke the story and I had returned to England for the limited over matches, I confronted the three players and told them to admit if they had done it as we could help them. Butt kept on denying and even took oath he had done nothing wrong. In contrast, the first time I confronted Aamir he came to me and admitted he had made a big mistake. He also confessed in court,” Afridi said.
Afridi also repeated his comments about Javed Miandad and Waqar Younis which he made in his book. “I still have a lot of respect for both as players. But it is not necessary that a big player can be a good coach and it applied to both. Waqar changed after becoming captain and he had a different personality for the worst after becoming coach.
“He used to interfere in everything and tried to dictate terms. He even used to give me pieces of paper before we went onto the field as who to bowl, when and where to set fielding. As captain this was annoying for me.”He also said that Waqar tried to spread rumours about him in the team and there was a lot of back biting. Afridi said Miandad had a habit of getting involved in tussle with players. “The reason we rate Bob Woolmer highly is he gave us space and never got involved in any tussle with the players.”