Karachi: Former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq has revealed that he had locked up his wife in a cupboard the night before the final against Australia in the 1999 World Cup in England to avoid disciplinary action.
Narrating the incident, Saqlain recalled that he had to hide his wife Sana in the closet as the team management had instructed all players to send back their wives and children after the team qualified for the super sixes stage of the World Cup.
"I had just got married to Sana who is a British citizen and she was with me in the initial part of the tournament. But in the super sixes stage the management told us we needed to just focus on the cricket.
"Since I wanted to be close to her I gave her a list of the hotels where the team was to stay and she used to check in before our arrival at every hotel," Saqlain recalled.
He said the night before the final while he was chatting with his wife in his room, team manager Dr Zafar Altaf and associate manager Masood Chisty knocked at the door to check if all the players were adhering to the curfew timings.
"Since I did not want to face any disciplinary action I told my wife to hide in the cupboard and locked the door from outside. Unfortunately her wait to come out become a long one.
"After the manager left, team coach Richard Pybus came to my room for a chat and after he left Muhammad Yousuf and Azhar Mehmood walked in. I felt sorry for my wife and was forced to ask her to come out of the cupboard leaving the players surprised," Saqlain, who took 208 Test and 288 one-day wickets between 1995-2004 before a knee injury cut short his international career, said.
Talking about the final which Pakistan lost by nine wickets to Australia, the off-spinner admitted the decision to bat first after winning the toss in wet conditions was a wrong one.
"Playing as a youngster in the 1999 World Cup I had nothing to do with the decisions made or strategies followed by the seniors or team management at that time, but I believe that we should not have batted first after winning the toss at Lord's where the ball is known to swig during the first innings," he said.
Saqlain, whose brilliant international career ended in the Multan Test against India in April 2004, is settled in England and is also part time bowling consultant to the New Zealand team.