London-based bookie Mazhar Majeed claims to have almost the entire Pakistan cricket team in his pocket but the one man the alleged match-fixer could never get a hold on is the temperamental Shahid Afridi.
In his numerous conversations with the undercover News of the World reporter during a sting operation which has exposed a widespread betting scam, Majeed said he couldn't get Afridi on board in his shady dealings.
"One player he does not want involved is Shahid Afridi, the veteran Pakistan captain in charge of the side in the one-day series. Afridi was not one of the players Majeed had in his pocket," the tabloid reported.
Revealing his dislike for Afridi, Majeed, during one of his conversations with the reporter, is quoted as saying, "I could have signed Afridi five years ago. All the other players I know, you know like brothers. When they're in England I see them every day. I go to Pakistan to stay withthem. We are going out for dinner tonight actually, Edgware Road."
"But he (Afridi) is the kind of player who you have to kiss his a**eevery day if you want to manage him. And I am not that kind of person."
Afridi has the daunting task of leading Pakistan in the two Twenty20s and five One-Day Internationals againstEngland starting on Sunday in the middle of the raging controversy that has left his country humiliated in international cricketing circles.
The dashing but volatile all-rounder has ordered his team-mates to avoid reading newspapers which are full of sordid details about how the suspended trio of Test skipper Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir took bribes from a bookie for 'spot-fixing'.
"I've told the boys 'Don't read the newspaper -just focus on cricket'. I know the people in Pakistan are very upset and what's happened is very disappointing. I think this is very bad news," he said.
Hehas also apologised on behalf of the implicated players to the fans.
"Onbehalf of these boys I want to say sorry to all cricket lovers and all the cricketing nations."