Before I go on to disclosing what he said on and off camera, let me brief you on GEO TV, Capital Talk, and its host Hamid Mir.
GEO is a privately owned Pakistani television channel based and telecasted out of Dubai Media City. The onwers are also the owners of Pakistan's most widely read newspapers - Jang and The News. There are a number of talk shows aired on GEO and majority of them have the reputation of being anti-establishment. Capital Talk is one of them and Hamid Mir usually bounces on every opportunity to criticize the Government. At times rightly so, at times maybe not.
Back to Shoaib Akhtar.
The show was aired last evening and Shoaib Akhtar talked about how he has been victimized by the PCB and criticized Nasim Ashraf and the PCB of having double standards and personal vendettas against him. He said a number of other things, the key ones being:
- He said that the PCB had no right to ban him since he is not a contracted player and thus the PCB laws do not apply to him.
- He questioned Nasim Ashraf's eligibility to be PCB Chairman since he was a US citizen and not a Pakistani one.
- He blamed President Pervez Musharraf of nepotism saying that Nasimn Ashraf was chairman only because he was the president's friend.
- He brought up the match fixing issue mentioning that those players who were involved didn't get any bans and yet he was being banned.
- He also talked about instances where he was offered money to under perform yet refused to do so - he mentioned Johannesburg and India as the 2 places where he was offered money.
- He reminded everyone of the times when he played for Pakistan despite being injured or not fully fit because the team management demanded it.
Shoaib spoke about all this on camera. But what happened off it is what I think is going to start a war within Pakistan cricket!
Once the show ended, Star News ran a story on Shoaib Akhtar. They gave their views on him and reported about the ban and the reactions associated with it. Half an hour or so into the program the reporter contacted Hamid Mir via telephone.
Hamid Mir mentioned that he had just interviewed Shoaib Akhtar and spoke about the above mentioned points. As the Star News reporter probed further into Shoaib's criticism of Nasim Ashraf and the match fixing comment, Hamid Mir opened up and said that Shoaib Akhtar had made a number of glaring revelations off camera.
According Hamid Mir these were:
- Pakistani, South African, Indian, and Australian cricketers are all involved in match fixing.
- Shoaib Akhtar has been offered money to throw matches by cricketers from all these countries and in all these countries.
- Shoaib Akhtar slapped Moin Khan and Inzamam Ul Haq on 2 separate occasions inside the dressing room when they offered money to him to under perform.
- Briefcases full of money have been left in Shoaib's hotel rooms in South Africa and India by players from SA, Ind, and Pakistan to throw matches.
For Pakistani readers these stories have been heard of before but only partly - Shoaib getting into a spat with Moin Khan or Shoaib and Inzamam having arguements in the dressing room are commonly known facts but there were never any concrete stories as to why the spats took place. According to Hamid Mir, Shoaib Akhtar came clean on those incidents.
But even that is not what I think will shake Pakistan cricket. It is what Shoaib Akhtar said about Nasim Ashraf.
Hamid Mir told Star News that Shoaib Akhtar told him that he has always given a share of his match fees to Nasim Ashraf. Not only from matches played for Pakistan but also from those played for counties, World XIs, Asian XIs, etc. He also mentioned:
- The PCB Chairman demands a cut of the fees earned by all players representing Pakistan - whether is is their match fee for playing for Pakistan or their county contract.
- The latest cuts that are to be paid to Nasim Ashraf are those from the IPL contracts.
- All Pakistan players give a share to Nasim Ashraf to play for Pakistan.
After disclosing all this, Hamid Mir said that Shoaib told him that if his ban is not overturned he will go to court and go public with proof on all these allegations on Nasim Ashraf and the cricketers involved in match fixing.
Concluding his tele conversation with Star News, Hamid Mir signed off by saying that the PCB did not have any just reason for banning Shoaib and he thought that it had happened because of Shoaib treating Nasim Ashraf the same way he had treated former captains Moin Khan and Inzamam Ul Haq - i.e. with a slap.
In Hamid Mir's words: "ho sakta hai Shoaib ne Nasim Ashraf saahab ko bhi apne haath ka maza chakhaya hoga kabhi".
It could be a result of sour grapes on the part of Shoaib Akhtar or it could be a case of political motives on part of Hamid Mir but the kind of facts that have been disclosed, whether true, false, or exaggerated, are bound to shake up Pakistan cricket.
Shoaib has a case on his hands - against the PCB, against the cricketers, and against the man that banned him, Nasim Ashraf.
He claims he has proof of match fixing, nepotism, and demand of shares from players' fees.
He has threatened to go public with all these facts and proof.
Pakistan's newly elected Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has already passed on his request to the PCB to overturn the ban.
A lot has already happened within 36 hours of the announcement of the ban.
I sense a lot more is in store. The War has just started and I believe it will end in a reinstated Shoaib Akhtar and a sacked Nasim Ashraf.