Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has emerged as the front-runner to become the new prime minister of Pakistan. The 65-year-old has a massive following in Pakistan. But, much before he held a mic, he was a source of envy for captains around the world. Khan was a major influence with a ball and bat. A hero to his country, he had the looks that raise heartbeats and charisma which inspired his teammates to fight like wolves.
Every generation has good, gifted and great cricketers but players like Imran Khan make their own league. They are looked upon as an inspiring figure for the generations which follow. He was a hero who hung his boots but never really retired. Think of any pacer who seems as if he is running to bowl the last delivery of his career, there will be a little bit of Imran Khan in him.
Born in 1952 in an affluent Lahore-household the ‘Captain’ who led Pakistan to its first World Cup victory in 1992 has always been in the limelight be it for his sports career, brazen comments and controversial private life on and off the field.
Here are top 5 controversies of his cricketing career:
1. Admitted to ball tampering: Khan in his autobiography released in 1994 admitted that he had tampered with the ball. Khan revealed that in match between Hampshire and Sussex in 1991, the ball was not deviating at all. “So I got the 12th man to bring on a bottle top and it started to move around a lot. I occasionally scratched the side [of the ball] and lifted the seam,” he was quoted as saying.
2. Accused by Ian Botham of racist remarks: Former English allrounder Ian Botham and his teammate Allan Lamb had claimed that Imran Khan had defamed them by attributing their attitudes to a lack of education and class, and therefore effectively racist. Botham also felt Khan’s claims that all top bowlers were technically guilty of ball-tampering were a slur, according to a report by The Telegraph. Botham and Lamb, however, lost a libel action against Khan in 1996. They appealed against the High Court ruling but later dropped the case.
3. Accused of match-fixing by Muhammad Mehdi: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Media Coordinator Muhammad Mehdi in 2017 had claimed that Khan was involved in match-fixing during his cricketing years. Talking to the reporters at PML-N’s media centre, Mehdi accused that Khan made large amounts of money from Kerry Packer in betrayal of Pakistan’s national interest leaving the country’s cricket team in a lurch during the 1983 World Cup.
4. The infamous victory speech: Khan’s winning speech after winning the 92 World became a part of a controversy. All he spoke about was about his off-field motivation, the cancer hospital that he wanted to build. The former Pakistani captain never talked about the win or congratulated his team-mates. Here is an extract of his victory speech –
“I just want to give my commiserations to the England team. I want them to know that by winning this World Cup, personally, it means that one of my greatest obsessions in life, which is to build a cancer hospital, I’m sure that this World Cup will go a long way towards completion of this obsession. I would also like to say that I feel very proud that at the twilight of my career, finally I’ve managed to win the World Cup.”
5- World Series Cricket: In the late seventies, Khan joined World Series Cricket which was a break-away professional cricket competition. The tournament was organised by Kerry Packer for his Australian television network, Nine Network. The matches did not have any official status and ran parallel to established international cricket. His move had brought Khan a three-month suspension by Pakistan Cricket Board.