Salman Butt likens Mohammad Amir to boxing legend Muhammad Ali
Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir may not be the best of friends these days, considering the role played by Butt in 2010, who as the Pakistan skipper at the time influenced Mohammad Amir in engaging in spot-fixing. Nonetheless, the 31-year-old has left a huge compliment to Amir by comparing him to Muhammad Ali, the boxing great who passed away recently, claiming that the left-arm pacer can make a grand comeback in Test cricket.
Amir has made a successful comeback to the Pakistan national side in the shorter formats of the game since serving out the 5-year suspension imposed on him by the ICC for willfully bowling no-balls during Pakistan’s tour to England in 2010. The 24-year-old will though have the biggest test of his comeback as he prepares for a return to the longest format of the game at the very same venue where his promising career came to a halt five years ago.
With less than two weeks to go before Pakistan take on England in the first of four Test matches which begin at Lord’s on July 14, Amir is getting closer and closer to what is expected to a hostile reception from the English fans, but Butt is confident that Amir can perform well by sticking to him game plan and by not paying attention to the detractors.
"There are no doubts that he can be Pakistan's key bowler against England across formats, just like on the tour of 2010," Butt told AFP. "He has bowled well in limited over matches and can deliver."
Referring to Muhammad Ali’s suspension from boxing in 1967 for a period of three years for his refusal to join the US war in Vietnam and the hugely successful comeback that followed his return to the ring, Butt believes that Amir can also make his return to Test cricket a special one.
“Long layoffs can hurt in many ways, but it depends on individuals and if they show the same hunger and determination - like Ali did in his forced lay-off - then one can succeed," he said. “He will have to ignore any enmity. People will move on once he does well and doesn't react."
Butt still hopeful of Pakistan comeback
Butt has not ruled out a comeback for himself to the Pakistan national team and is hopeful that his bat can do the talking as he plots his way back to the side.
"I am working hard and trying to perform in any type of cricket I play because that is the only road to get back into the team," he said.
Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former skipper, who assumed the role of chief selector post the 2016 World T20, had given a ray of hope to Butt and Mohammad Asif, who was also found guilty along with Butt and Amir in the spot-fixing scandal, claiming that the duo will also be considered for selection should they perform exceedingly well in first-class cricket and Butt is hopeful that he can grab the opportunity in the near future.