What’s the story?
Despite serving his five-year ban and participating in an anti-corruption program, former Pakistan skipper Salman Butt’s comeback plan has been derailed following the recent spot-fixing scandal in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
According to reports from ESPNCricinfo, the left-hander was informed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) of their change in thinking owing to the tempestuous environment in the country’s cricket scene. The development has come in the wake of his public appeal to the authorities regarding the need to target bookies rather than going after the tainted cricketers themselves.
In a recent show on Geo Super, Butt had insisted, “The players are seen as the main culprits whenever some corruption comes out. But, I think the International Cricket Council (ICC) and its member boards also need to think about how to also punish those people who try to lure players into fixing. We have seen players who get caught in this fixing racket get punished.”
“I have been through it and have paid heavily for it. I have learnt my lesson. But what about those who induce us into such practice. It happens in every sport and not only cricket. It is human nature that some individuals will always fall into the trap of greed. That is why I say steps are also required to punish individuals who trap players.”
For the upcoming West Indies tour, Butt had come under consideration for a possible recall into the Test team. After PCB cleared his name for selection, Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and Coach Mickey Arthur reportedly deliberated on bringing the veteran back as Azhar Ali’s opening partner.
The heart of the matter
However, Butt’s chances have taken a massive hit with the PCB still reeling from the spot-fixing quagmire. The corruption scandal has threatened to consume the careers of prominent players such as Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Irfan, Shahzaib Hasan and Nasir Jamshed.
Public sentiment is also considerably against Butt’s recall. Although his co-conspirator Mohammad Amir has returned to the Pakistan team across all formats, former players have warned the selectors against bringing the tainted captain back into the scheme of things. This despite the fact the southpaw has made a strong case for himself by putting in consistent performances in the domestic circuit.
Pakistan are scheduled to play three Tests against West Indies starting from April 22. Quashing all speculations surrounding his future, 42-year-old Misbah-ul-Haq will continue to lead the side.
It is understandable that the PCB and the selection committee remain guarded against offering a recall to Butt. While his experience can make him a handy asset, the repercussions of bringing him back have to be taken into consideration as well.
With the dressing room atmosphere in a precarious state, younger and safer alternatives may work better for Pakistan cricket.