Former Pakistan captain and legendary fast bowler Wasim Akram has revealed that he was addicted to cocaine after the end of his playing career but quit following the death of his first wife.
The 1992 World Cup-winner, who took more than 900 international wickets before retiring in 2003, began using cocaine while working as a television expert around the world.
In an interview with the Times, the 56-year old revealed that he has mentioned about the addiction in his new autobiography.
“The culture of fame in South Asia is all consuming, seductive and corrupting. You can go to 10 parties a night, and some do. And it took its toll on me,” Akram was quoted as saying by BBC.
The former left-arm pacer also mentioned about the selfless act of his first wife Huma, who died suddenly in 2009 from a rare fungal infection.
“Huma’s last selfless, unconscious act was curing me of my drug problem. That way of life was over, and I have never looked back,” he said.
After making his international debut in 1984, Wasim played 104 Tests and 356 one-day internationals for Pakistan, winning the 1992 World Cup. He led Pakistan in 25 Tests and 109 ODIs between 1993 and 2000 and is widely regarded as one of the best bowlers of all time.
According to Akram, he “developed a dependence on cocaine” while he was travelling away from Huma and their two sons, who were living in Manchester.
“It started innocuously enough when I was offered a line at a party in England; my use grew steadily more serious, to the point that I felt I needed it to function,” the former cricketer further revealed.
“Huma, I know, was often lonely at this time, she would talk of her desire to move to Karachi, to be nearer her parents and siblings. I was reluctant. Why? Partly because I liked going to Karachi on my own, pretending it was work when it was actually about partying, often for days at a time,” he added.
The legendary quick sought help after his late wife discovered his drug use, but said he had a bad experience in a rehab facility in Lahore and fell back into the habit during the 2009 Champions Trophy, where he worked as a pundit.
Akram said the drugs were “a substitute for the adrenaline rush of competition, which I sorely missed” but Huma’s death shortly after that tournament spurred him to quit. He has since remarried and has a young daughter with his second wife.
The former Pakistani cricketer also addressed allegations of match-fixing during his career, again denying any involvement in corruption.
In 2000, Pakistan players Saleem Malik and Ata-ur-Rehman were banned for match-fixing. A report into the scandal by Justice Malik Qayyum found Wasim not guilty of match-fixing but did recommend that he be fined and not allowed to captain Pakistan because he refused to cooperate and “cannot be said to be above suspicion”.
The report said “there has been some evidence to cast doubt on his integrity” but Wasim said he did not read it until he wrote his book.
“I knew I was innocent. Everything was he said, she said, I heard from someone else, Wasim sent a message through someone else. I mean it doesn’t even sound right,” he said.
“It’s embarrassing because my kids have grown up and they ask questions,” he added.