Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has claimed that he had turned down a 175,000-pound county contract with Nottinghamshire to fight the 1999 war against India in Kargil.
Codenamed ‘Operation Vijay’, the Kargil war was fought at an altitude of around 16,000 feet wherein 1,042 Pakistani soldiers lost their lives and 527 Indian soldiers made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.
“People hardly know about this story. I had a 175,000-pound contract with Nottingham. Then in 2002, I had another big contract. I left both when Kargil happened,” Akhtar said in an interview with Pakistan’s ARY News.
“I stood on the outskirts of Lahore. A general asked me what I’m doing there. I said war is about to start and we’ll die together. I left county (cricket) twice like this and the counties were shocked. I wasn’t concerned about that. I called up my friends in Kashmir and told them I am ready to fight,” he added.
Akhtar has time and again spoken about how sports and politics should be kept on different pedestals and that while there was intense rivalry on the field when the two teams clashed, they have shared great friendship off it. In fact, he had even proposed hosting a series between India and Pakistan to fight the economic turmoil due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While his former skipper Shahid Afridi had backed him, former India skipper Kapil Dev had made it clear that it wasn’t an option.