New Delhi: Surprising everyone by his bizarre justification over fixing matches, controversial former Pakistan bowler Shoaib Akhtar on Friday said that the money crisis compels the cricketers to engage in such businesses.
“Cricketers are being tempted into fixing matches because they are underpaid by their board,” said Akhtar.
Making a sensational revelation, the Rawalpindi express, (as Akhtar is popularly known), accepted that match fixing has become a common phenomenon in Pakistan cricket.
“Match fixings are imbibed in Paksitani cricket culture as there's less money and even lesser opportunities here,” he said.
"In 2008, I had no money to even buy a car. I had to borrow money from a friend. I handled it, others go astray. Your friends ditch you, board doesn't back you. They all run you down. So when you return you think let me teach them a lesson. Some are corrupt but some cricketers are turned into criminals by the system," he said.
Expressing his dissatisfaction, the cricketing legend said "In my 15 years of cricketing career, I managed to make only seven-eight crore rupees.”
‘Money, glamour can deviate youngsters' focus’
Akhtar conceded that money and glamour can lead to youngsters going astray in international cricket but in some cases it is the system that turns players into "criminals".
"How do you tell an18-yr-old to not look at girls. There are heady temptations of fame and girls swooning over rising stars.
At 20 you get fame, you've crores in your pocket, you have people who lead you down the wrong path," Akhtar told in an interview to a news channel.
Recently three girls were briefly arrested from the hotel room of West Indies batsman Chris Gayle after a party to celebrate the team's semifinal qualification in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
‘IPL a business, not cricket’
When asked if he considers the glamorous IPL a threat to the game, Shoaib said the event is just "business and entertainment and not cricket".
"Don't make it the benchmark. IPL is not cricket, it can't be India's criteria for excellence. If it prospers at the cost of first class cricket then it is very bad. What's worse IPL can make players limit their goals, dream small.
"Wide-eyed boys from villages are left in total awe of this cocktail of glamour and money. It is the responsibility of IPL team owners to guard young players.”
He also held out an ominous warning.
"In 4-5 years, IPL will hurt quality of India's bench strength. IPL will never give you another Sachin Tendulkar.
The Kapils and Sachins and the Dravids can't be produced through IPL."
Akhtar, whose career was marked by allegations of drug abuse and ball-tampering, bagged 178 wickets in 46 Tests and 247 in 163 one-day internationals between 1997 and 2011.