Shahid Afridi claims he knew of teammates' malpractices before spot fixing scandal

Shahid Afridi claimed the frustration over the Pakistan team managemnt's inaction led him to to step down from captaincy and announce his retirement from Tests.

Former Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi reacts during the day three of the first Test between Pakistan and Australia at Lords on July 15, 2010.   -  Getty Images

Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has revealed in his autobiography 'Game Changer'  that he was aware of malpractices teammates Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were involved in, much before the spot-fixing scandal broke out in 2010.

Afridi claims to have communicated his suspicion with the team management. His frustration over their "denial" and inaction led him to to step down from Test captaincy in the middle of a series in Australia and announce his retirement from the longest format of the game.

“Yes. For the record, I gave up. I quit,” Afridi says in the book, an exceprt of which was published by ESPNCricinfo.

He says he became aware of the suspicious conversations between player agent Mazhar Majeed and the players who were accused.

“I got hold of the original evidence in the racket — phone messages that would eventually come into play against players involved in the spot—fixing controversy. When I took that evidence to the team management, what happened next didn’t inspire much confidence in those tasked with managing and running the affairs of Pakistan’s national cricket team.”

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"I was in Sri Lanka on a tour when the text messages of Mazhar Majeed -  Salman Butt's 'agent and manager', who was also prosecuted - reached me, in transcript form. It is pure coincidence how I got hold of them. And it's got something to do with a kid, a beach and a repairman.

"At one of the Sri Lankan beaches, Majeed's young son dropped his father's mobile phone in the water and it stopped working. When Majeed went back to England, he took his phone for repair to a mobile fix-it. In a random coincidence, the shop owner turned out to be a friend of a friend of mine. While fixing the phone, the shop-owner, who was asked to retrieve the messages, came across Majeed's messages to the players of the Pakistan team. Though he shouldn't have seen what he did, it was that leak from him to my friend and a few others (whom I won't name) that looped me in on the scam."

Afridi decided to show those messages to the then coach, Waqar Younis, but nothing came out of it.

"When I received those messages back in Sri Lanka, I showed them to Waqar Younis, then coach of the team. Unfortunately, he didn't escalate the matter and take it upstairs. Both Waqar and I thought it was something that would go away, something that wasn't as bad as it looked, just a dodgy conversation between the players and Majeed, at worst."

Mohammad Amir (L), Salman Butt (C) and Mohammad Asif (R) look on during the fourth Test between England and Pakistan at Lord's.   -  Getty Images

 

Even Abdul Razzaq, who he describes as someone who stayed out of dressing-room politics, was of the opinion that Butt, Amir and Asif "weren't up to any good."

Afridi found Majeed "lurking around" the dressing room during the England tour in 2010 and decided to escalate the matter, but was left disappointed and angry.

"That's when I decided to take up the issue officially with the team manager, Yawar Saeed. I put in a formal request that Mazhar Majeed should be distanced from the players, physically, and that no one in the team should associate with him even on a personal level.

"When Saeed didn't take action, I showed him the text messages - I'd printed them out on paper. After going through them, Saeed, taken aback, eventually came up with a dismal response: 'What can we do about this, son? Not much. Not much.'"

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He goes on to describe the exact moments he decided to quit.

"That's when I decided to put an end to it, in my own way. In the middle of the match, around the fourth day, I told Salman Butt that he could take over.

"I remember exactly when I made the decision. We were at 220 for 6. Marcus North was bowling. I swept and was taken in the deep. When the ball was in the air, I had taken my decision. I was done with all of this.

"I retired from Test cricket. Perhaps prematurely, but I had lost faith in the whole set-up, especially because the team management wasn't proactively investigating what was happening and instead letting the entire thing slide."

The ICC suspended and later handed long bans to Butt, Amir and Asif, who were alleged to have involved in spot-fixing during the Lord's Test against England and in other matches during the period.