Salman Butt nears international comeback after impressing selectors
What’s the story?
Tainted Pakistan batsman Salman Butt is being fast-tracked into the national side after impressing selectors with his domestic performances recently. He might be included in the Pakistan A side soon, with the motive of bringing him back into the international fold.
"He is playing very well after his comeback and we are considering him. He was there in our high-performance camp and he was exceptional. It's fantastic to see that a player has been out for five years but still maintained a high standard of fitness," Inzamam-ul-Haq, PCB’s chief selector, told reporters.
In case you didn’t know…
One of the central characters in an ugly spot-fixing scandal in 2010, Butt was handed a five-year ban by the Pakistan Cricket Board post the England-Pakistan series. Along with Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, Butt made a return to the domestic circuit after their bans ended in September 2015.
Before being banned at 26, Butt had represented Pakistan in 33 Tests, 74 ODIs and 24 T20Is.
Of the trio that was accused of fixing, Amir is the only one who has managed to make his way into the national side, and has been playing for Pakistan since last year.
The heart of the matter
Inzamam conceded that although Butt had ticked all the boxes for selection, he wouldn't be directly given an entry to the international arena, with the aim of drafting him in the A side first and assessing his future from there.
Butt returned to Pakistan’s domestic circuit in January last year, and ended as the highest run-getter in the National One-Day Cup, finishing with an average of 107.20. He also captained the WAPDA team to the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in 2016.
Butt was supposed to return to Pakistan colours earlier this year, but the cloud of match-fixing during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) forced the selectors to delay his selection.
Once tainted, the blot of being branded a ‘fixer’ might never vanish from Butt’s legacy (whatever he makes of it from here), but the 32-year-old will take heart from the fact that the selectors are willing to put their money (no pun intended) on the left-hander.
He has managed to impress former captains Waqar Younis and Misbah-ul-Haq, who believe that Butt can be a welcome addition to a Pakistan side plagued by a fragile batting line-up, and inconsistent opening options.