New Delhi, July 1 | Pakistan spin great Saqlain Mushtaq said that he had to once hide his wife in the cupboard of his hotel room after a sudden change in the team policy meant that all family members of the players had to be sent home during the 1999 World Cup. Saqlain said that spending time with his wife, who stayed in London, had become an important part of his routine and he was not ready to follow the sudden change in rules.
“Actually I got married in December 1998. My wife used to stay in London so in the 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,” Saqlain said in an interview with presenter Raunak Kapoor in the show ‘Beyond The Field’.
“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.”
Saqlain said that players’ rooms were checked from time to time and in that time, he asked his wife to go hide in the cupboard.
“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 (Mohammad) Yousuf 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,” he said.
Saqlain said that he didn’t face any problems as the final came around shortly after that. Pakistan were completely outclassed in the match by Australia, who won the match by eight wickets.
“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 given me an apartment there,” said Saqlain.