New Delhi: As the debate over whether wives and girlfriends should travel with players or not continues, former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq has revealed that in the 1999 World Cup, he had sneaked his wife into hotels and hid her in the closet when the manager or the coach came knocking.
"At the 1999 World Cup we'd been travelling with our wives and family, enjoying the tournament, but before the semi-final the management said that wives are not allowed. I said to Sana (wife): 'I'm not going to send you home. I'm feeling comfortable. You're going to stay here," Saqlain said.
Saqlain Mushtaq. Pic/ AFP
"So I gave her a list of the hotels. She would check in before me, and I kept her in my room. Whenever the manager and coach came knocking, I told her to go and hide in the cupboard," he told 'ESPNcricinfo' candidly. He went on to narrate an interesting anecdote related to it when his teammates Mohammad Yousuf and Azhar Mahmood came in one day and after a few minutes starting laughing. They told him that they knew his wife was in the room and that she could come out from the cupboard.
Saqlain, who is known for coming up with the 'Doosra', also spoke about his silly tiff with teammate Yousuf in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2001. "Me and Yousuf were playing cards before the Christchurch Test (2001), joking around, taking the mickey and then we got into a bit of an argument. I said: 'Sorry, I didn't mean to upset you'," Saqlain said.
"Next day, Yousuf was batting when I went in. I said: 'Yousuf, have you forgiven me? This is a Test match, we have to clear this up.' But he didn't want to talk to me. So I said, 'Okay, I'm not going to stand next to you.' One of the New Zealand bowlers bowled one in my area and I hit it for a one-bounce four. The dressing room was like: 'What are you doing? You need to stay there and support Yousuf'," Saqlain said.
"I said to Yousuf: 'If you're not going to talk to me, I'm going to smack every ball.' He said: 'Do whatever you want.' This happened every time I hit a four: same reaction from dressing room, same reaction from Yousuf. At the end of the day, I was on 20-odd and Yousuf was on about 70," he said. Later when Saqlain got back to the hotel, Yousuf had written a note to him, saying, "Saqi bhai, sorry, I was just joking with you, but tomorrow is a very important day. If you stay I can make a hundred and get the bonus."
Narrating another interesting episode, Saqlain said during the Christchurch Test his wife told him that if he loved her he would have to make a fifty. "So, I got to 50, then up to 70, going really slow. My wife sent another message out: 'If you really, really love me, you have to make hundred.' It was a lot of pressure. I was going to break the record for slowest Test hundred. I was 98 at the end of the next day. Next day, I was on 99 for about 40 minutes, but thanks to Nathan Astle for a ball on the leg side and I got the hundred," he said.