SYDNEY: Legendary Pakistan pacer Wasim Akram has opened up about match-fixing allegations over the course of his career.
While speaking in an interview with Wide World of Sports, Akram said that the match-fixing allegations were the driving force behind his autobiography, Sultan: A Memoir.
"In Australia, England, West Indies and India my name is taken in World XI as one of the greatest bowlers ever. But in Pakistan, this social media generation refers to me as match-fixer," chuckled Akram.
It must be noted that the Pakistan Cricket Board had established an inquiry panel, headed by Justice Qayyum of the Lahore High Court, to investigate match-fixing allegations in the 1990s and the report, published in 2000, held several cricketers responsible including Salim Malik and Ata-ur-Rehman.
It may be mentioned here that the commission, in its report on match-fixing, gave Akram the benefit of doubt.
“The evidence against Wasim Akram has not come up to the requisite level, primarily because of Ata-ur-Rehman’s perjuring himself. This Commission is willing to give him the benefit of doubt,” the report stated.
“However, there has been some evidence to cast doubt on his integrity. As such, this Commission recommends that he be removed from the captaincy of the Pakistan Cricket Team and a person of impeccable character be appointed. Moreover, he should be censured, kept under watch, and his finances should be investigated,” it added.
The commission also fined Wasim Akram Rs300,000 after the report was published.
Akram's 18-year-long career ended in 2003. He is still considered as one of the greatest fast bowlers Pakistan has ever produced. The left-arm pacer took 414 Test wickets and 502 ODI wickets.
Akram’s book has also revealed his post-retirement cocaine addiction.
"I liked to indulge myself; I liked to party. The culture of fame in south Asia is all consuming, seductive and corrupting. You can go to ten parties a night, and some do. And it took its toll on me. My devices turned into vices," he wrote in his book as quoted by the ESPNcricinfo.
"Worst of all, I developed a dependence on cocaine. It started innocuously enough when I was offered a line at a party in England; my use grew steadily more serious, to the point that I felt I needed it to function.
"It was getting out of hand. I couldn't control it. One line would become two, two would become four; four would become a gram, a gram would become two. I could not sleep. I could not eat. I grew inattentive to my diabetes, which caused me headaches and mood swings. Like a lot of addicts, part of me welcomed discovery: the secrecy had been exhausting.”
The cricketer-turned-commentator had a long struggle with drug addiction which finally ended after his first wife's demise.
"Huma's last selfless, unconscious act was curing me of my drug problem. That way of life was over, and I have never looked back," he wrote.