Saqlain used to hide his wife in cupboard
Former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq was instrumental in making Pakistan runners-up in the 1999 World Cup. He took the third highest 17 wickets of the event. Pakistan did not win the second World Cup as they lost to Australia in the final match of the tournament.
Saqlain had an interesting story about the World Cup that took place more than two decades ago. At the beginning of the World Cup, family members were allowed to keep their wives and children with them, but the Pakistan team management asked them to send their family home in the middle of the tournament. Saqlain did not like that.
So he wisely kept his wife with him, but behind the scenes. In doing so, Saqlain hid his wife in a cupboard for a long time. So that he is not accused of violating the rules of the team. Saqlain himself said this.
“True! This is absolutely true,” said Saqlain replying to a fan’s question about the incident during an interview with Raunak Kapoor in the show ‘Beyond The Field’.
“Actually I got married in December 1998. My wife used to stay in London so in 1999 World Cup I stayed with my wife and there was a set pattern – work hard and train like a true professional with the team during day time and in the evenings I used to spend time with my wife.
“But suddenly they said that our families will be sent back home. So I told our head coach Richard Pybus, that everything is going so smooth then why this sudden change. I am someone who likes to keep the things as they are and don’t feel the need to try out new things for no reason. I decided that I’m not gonna follow this,” said Saqlain
But there was a chance of being noticed by someone. And out of fear, Saqlain hid his wife in a cupboard whenever someone came into his room. Especially team managers, coaches or other officials actually.
“The manager, coaches used to come and check our rooms. Some players also used to come for a chat. So one day when I heard a knock on the door, I told my wife to go and hide inside the cupboard. The manager came, had a look and went back. Another official came and went back. And all this while my wife was inside the cupboard. Then Azhar (Mahmood) and Yusuf came to have a chat with me about the new rules. They suspected that my wife was in the room. After they insisted I gave in. So I asked my wife to finally come out of the closet.
“I managed to get away with it as after we lost the final to Australia, the atmosphere was very heavy, everyone was down. I went back to my hotel, checked out and told my wife to go to my apartment which was also in London. I used to play county cricket so they had they had given me an apartment there,” added Saqlain.
Saqlain did not take any more risks after losing to Australia in the final. Since everyone in the group was in critical condition, he returned to the hotel and sent his wife to his own apartment in London. Saqlain got it for playing county cricket.