NEW DELHI: Former Pakistani captain and legendary fast bowler Wasim Akram has revealed he was addicted to cocaine after his playing career ended but quit after his first wife died.
The 1992 World Cup winner, who netted over 900 international wickets before retiring in 2003, started using cocaine while working as a television pundit around the world.
In an interview with The Times, the 56-year-old revealed he mentioned addiction in his new autobiography.
“The celebrity culture in South Asia is all-consuming, seductive and corrupting. You can go to 10 parties a night, and some do. And that took a toll on me,” Akram said.
The former left arm pacemaker also mentioned the selfless act of his first wife Huma, who died suddenly in 2009 of a rare fungal infection.
“Huma’s last selfless and reckless act cured me of my drug problem. That way of life was over and I 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 greatest bowlers of all time.
According to Akram, he “developed a cocaine addiction” while traveling away from Huma and their two sons, who lived in Manchester.
“It started quite innocently when I was offered a line at a party in England; my use became more and more serious, to the point where I felt I needed it to function,” said yet revealed the former cricketer.
“Huma, I know, was often alone at that time, she would talk about her desire to move to Karachi, to be closer to her parents and siblings. I was reluctant. Why? Partly because I loved going to Karachi on my own, pretending it was work when it was actually partying, often for days on end,” he added.
The legendary fast sought help after his late wife found out about his drug use, but said he had a bad experience at a rehab center in Lahore and picked up the habit during the Champions Trophy 2009, where he worked as an expert.
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 prompted 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, Pakistani players Saleem Malik and Ata-ur-Rehman were banned for match-fixing. A report on the justice scandal Malik Qayyoum declared Wasim not guilty of match-fixing, but recommended that he be fined and not allowed to lead Pakistan because he refused to cooperate and “cannot be considered as above suspicion”.
The report says “there has been 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 he said, she said, I heard from someone else, Wasim sent a message through someone else. I mean it doesn’t even sound good,” he said.
“It’s embarrassing because my children have grown up and they ask questions,” he added.

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