NEW DELHI: Controversial former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar said on Friday the cricketers are being tempted into fixing matches because they are underpaid by their board.
“Fixing happens in our culture because there's less money, there are even lesser opportunities. Cricketers victimised by their boards return (to the team) to mint money,” Akhtar, 37, told the Headlines Today news channel.
“In 2008, I had no money to even buy a car. I had to borrow money from a friend. I handled it, others go astray.
“Your friends ditch you, (the cricket) board doesn't back you. They all run you down. So when you return you think 'let me teach them a lesson'. Some are corrupt, but some cricketers are turned into criminals by the system.”
Three Pakistani stars, Test captain Salman Butt and pacemen Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, were jailed last year after being found guilty of spot-fixing during the 2010 Lord's Test against England.
It was the first time international cricketers were handed prison sentences, a scandal described by then-ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat as the worst corruption case since the Hansie Cronje episode.
Former South African captain Cronje, who died in 2002, was banned from the game for life in October 2000, six months after New Delhi police accused him of taking money from a bookie during his team's Indian tour that year.
“We (in Pakistan) don't have much money in cricket. I wasn't playing for India you know. I was an elite star, still after playing for 14 years I only made seven-eight crore rupees ($1.35-1.54 million),” said Akhtar.
Akhtar, whose career was marked by allegations of drug abuse and ball-tampering, bagged 178 wickets in 46 Tests and 247 in 163 one-day internationals between 1997 and 2011.
“I was cleared on all drug charges,” he said.