I feel sorry for Mohammed Amir, says Shoaib Akhtar
Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar feels disappointed that someone as talented as Mohammed Amir has lost his way due to spot-fixing controversy.
Amir, along with fellow teammates Salman Butt and Mohammed Asif, were found guilty of spot-fixing during a Test match against England at the Lord's last year, and has been subsequently banned from international cricket by ICC.
Amir, though, it is believed, to have confessed his guilt in a UK court.
"When I first saw Amir, I felt he was my mirror image. What a talent he was. He could swing the ball like Wasimbhai, he had pace like me. It's so heartbreaking that you get into bad company for 10,000-20,000," Shoaib told a gathering during the release of his autobiography Controversially Yours.
Image: Mohammad Amir
'Wasim didn't want me in the team'
Akhtar, who has been involved in controversies regarding his action, ball tampering, but never in any match-fixing scandal, felt that there are a few key elements that can explain why players indulge in such malpractices.
"Less education, grooming and a mentality to take revenge when someone has gone through a lot. Also the company one keeps is also important. If you mix in the wrong domain, these things happen. It's all about money," Akhtar said.
He said that Twenty20 should have started back in 1985 and former Australian business magnet Kerry Packer did a "great job" in bringing the World Series Cricket.
Talking about Pakistan cricket, he did mention that at the start of his career, then skipper Wasim Akram did not want him in the team but had to relent when pressurised by the board.
"Wasimbhai wanted to play with the same combination and a selector insisted that I should be tried out as that was the best opportunity to check me out. But he was adamant and then PCB top brass intervened," he revealed.
Image: Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar
'I had lost self-confidence'
One of the darkest phases of his career, by his own admission, was his action coming under the scanner.
"Now, no one raised a question when I made my debut or when I was getting all the biggest names of the game out. Just before the tour of Australia, my action came under scanner.
"I had shut myself out from the whole world. I would put down the curtains and switch off the lights so that even I couldn't see myself. Thanks to Jagmohan Dalmiya (former ICC president) and the erstwhile PCB chief Tauqir Zia that I could return to international cricket," he said.
Image: Shoaib Akhtar
'The betrayal came from Lalit, not Shah Rukh Khan'
He admitted that he has made innumerable mistakes in life and has learnt from them. One such incident was being involved in a brawl with Mohammad Asif and he now "regrets" that.
"I have never got anything easy in life. Wherever I went, I heard that I wasn't good enough. Life has been a big learning experience for me. I have made mistakes and have learnt from each one of them."
Speaking about his not-too-pleasant experience with Indian Premier League side Kolkata Knight Riders, he said that he has no problems with Shah Rukh Khan but was certainly disappointed with Lalit Modi's role.
"Shah Rukh looked after me like an elder brother and never betrayed me. The betrayal came from Lalit. I was amazed how he and PCB chairman got together and didn't allow me to play in the IPL," he said.
Image: Shoaib Akhtar in Kolkata colours