Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram, widely regarded as the greatest left-arm pacer cricket has ever seen, has made an explosive revelation that he was once addicted to cocaine. Wasim Akram’s jaw-dropping revelation came in an interview with the British publication, The Times, ahead of the release of his autobiography Sultan: A Memoir. Speaking about his struggles with cocaine addiction, Wasim Akram said that he got into the habit of using drugs after he retired from international cricket.
According to Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker in Tests and ODIs, he began consuming cocaine as a “substitute for the adrenaline rush of competition” because he was missing the highs and lows that he felt on the field while playing for his country.
“I liked to indulge myself; I liked to party,” the legendary Pakistan cricketer mentioned. “The culture of fame in south Asia is all consuming, seductive and corrupting. You can go to ten parties a night, and some do. And it took its toll on me. My devices turned into vices.
“Worst of all, I developed a dependence on cocaine. 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.
“It made me volatile. It made me deceptive. Huma, I know, was often lonely in 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.
“Huma eventually found me out, discovering a packet of cocaine in my wallet . . . ‘You need help.’ I agreed. It was getting out of hand. I couldn’t control it. One line would become two, two would become four; four would become a gram, a gram would become two. I could not sleep. I could not eat. I grew inattentive to my diabetes, which caused me headaches and mood swings. Like a lot of addicts, part of me welcomed discovery: the secrecy had been exhausting.”
“The doctor was a complete con man, who worked primarily on manipulating families rather than treating patients, on separating relatives from money rather than users from drugs.”
“Try as I might, part of me was still smouldering inside about the indignity of what I’d been put through. My pride was hurt, and the lure of my lifestyle remained. I briefly contemplated divorce. I settled for heading to the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy where, out from under Huma’s daily scrutiny, I started using again.”
As his treatment in Pakistan didn’t go according to plan, Wasim Akram’s drug addiction relapsed but ended immediately after Huma passed away in 2009.
“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.”
After the death of his first wife, Wasim Akram remarried and is now a father of three – two sons with Huma and a daughter with his second partner.
Akram revealed that he wrote his book to put his side of the story in front of his children.
“I’m a bit anxious about the book,” he said, “but I think once it is out, I’ll be kind of over it. I’m anxious because at my age, I’m 56 and I’ve been diabetic for 25 years, it is just stress, you know . . . it was tough to revisit all the things. I’ve done it for my two boys, who are 25 and 21, and my seven-year-old daughter, just to put my side of the story.”
During his 18-year career for Pakistan, Wasim Akram won many accolades with the national team, including the 1992 ODI World Cup, the nation’s only triumph in the biggest cricket tournament played on Earth.
Besides being a World Cup winner, Wasim Akram is the highest wicket-taker for Pakistan in both Test and ODI cricket. While he took 414 wickets from 104 games in the longest format of the sport, he dismissed 502 batters with his left-arm swing bowling in One-Day Internationals (ODIs).
To date, Wasim Akram remains the only bowler to take at least two hat-tricks each in Test and ODI cricket. With four hat-tricks to his name, he is the player in international cricket to achieve the feat so far.
After retiring from the sport in 2003, Wasim Akram became a leading voice in the commentary box, commentating and writing about the game in several publications around the world. He occasionally took coaching assignments in both Pakistan and abroad.