After nine years of mystery why Shahid Afridi had retired from Test Cricket in the middle of Test Series that too after being at the helm only for one match, has finally been revealed in the autobiography of the Pakistan’s flamboyant all-rounder.
Afridi has revealed now 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.
The former Pakistan skipper claims that he had communicated his suspicion with the team management. His frustration over their “denial” and inaction led him to step down from Test captaincy in the middle of a series in England 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.
Revealing further He said that that he became aware of the suspicious conversations between player agent Mazhar Majeed and the players who were accused well before the actual sandal got highlighted.
“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,” in book he further said.
He said that it was while he was in Sri Lanka on a tour when he got hold of 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 further says that he 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.”
About his abrupt retirement 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.