In a shocking revelation about match-fixing in the ‘gentleman’s game’, former Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar on Monday claimed that it was at its peak in 1996, but he himself refrained from getting involved in the malpractice.
"The atmosphere of the Pakistan dressing room was very strange... Trust me it was the worst possible dressing room," Akhtar was quoted as saying by Geo News.
The "Rawalpindi Express" added he always stayed away from fixing circles and cautioned other people about it, advising team-mates to play with integrity and sincerity.
Akhtar also claimed to have warned fixing convict Mohammad Amir back in 2010 to avoid meeting people who could lure players to match fixing.
Amir served a five-year suspension after admitting to fixing in 2010. He returned to action last year and is now a regular in the Pakistan team.
Akhtar said he intervened to put an end to a recent public verbal dispute between Javed Miandad and Shahid Afridi, urging the two warring former Pakistan skippers to resolve the matter through dialogue.
"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 go to the court, then a lot of names would have cropped up," Akhtar told a Pakistan news channel.
"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."
The 41-year-old said Miandad and Afridi's spat could have opened a Pandora's box, tarnishing Pakistan cricket's image worldwide. Former skipper Wasim Akram had also persuaded both parties to settle their differences amicably.
The bitter feud erupted when Miandad accused Afridi of fixing matches for money.
"Things are said in the heat of the moment and I also said some inappropriate things in the heat of the moment. I take them back," Miandad said recently.
They later resolved their differences, posting a video online in which Miandad took back his words and Afridi apologised, stating he had always considered Miandad as his elder brother.
"What Javed bhai said caused me and my family pain but I also understand now what I said about him was not warranted and would have hurt him and I say sorry to him for that," Afridi had said.
Akhtar also lauded the Pakistan team for their recent limited overs victory against the West Indies and expressed reservations over the use of pink ball in Tests.
He said the cricket officials should consider a number of factors before deciding to schedule a Day/Night Test, such as the local weather and pitch conditions.
(With IANS inputs)