I spent a few memorable hours with Mazhar Majeed during Asia Cup in Sri Lanka this year. It was June 19. India were facing Pakistan after a gap of almost a year. I decided to reach the venue two hours before the start of play. It was a crunch game for Pakistan since they had lost their first match to Sri Lanka.
India, on the contrary, had just beat Bangladesh convincingly. My driver arrived to pick me up well before time. As I hadn’t finished lunch, he asked for permission to go and pick up one of his close friends from Pakistan who would also accompany us to the stadium.
In the car, the driver’s friend introduced himself as “Mazhar Majeed”, an agent of some of the Pakistan cricketers, including Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Asif. We instantly hit it off, discussing cricket and the travails of managing cranky players like Asif.
While Mazhar agreed that it was difficult to control Asif, he also praised Butt for his charisma on and off the field. He dwelt on the need to keep players informed about the financial dynamics surrounding cricket and how challenging it was to groom them professionally.
The eccentricities of some Pakistan cricketers are well known and Majeed sounded relieved that his stable of cricketers did not include the likes of Shoaib Akhtar.
The ride to the Rangiri Dambulla stadium should have lasted about 20 minutes. It took much longer as we had time, and the driver too got involved in the conversation.
At the stadium, Majeed said he had plans to take Kamran Akmal and some others sightseeing around Dambulla the next day.
Clad in a white T-shirt and capris, he stressed the importance of the India-Pakistan match and how vital it was for some of the younger players in the squad. He was especially anxious about Asif as the pacer was making a comeback after a long time and a flop in an India game would be a setback.
Whether Mazhar’s anxiety was heightened because he had money riding on the game is a matter for speculation, but his discomfort was evident.
Though we promised to catch up later on, we never did.
However, he left me his email address (email@example.com) which pointed to a real estate development site (http://blueskyhouse.co.uk), and also contains non-league Croydon Athletic FC (www.croydonathletic.net), the company, which he used to conduct his illicit deals as confessed to News of the World.