What’s the story?
Former Pakistan skipper Salman Butt, who has served his spot-fixing ban, is in the mix for a possible Test recall. With the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) issuing clearance for the left-hander’s comeback into the international arena, Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and Coach Mickey Arthur are understood to be seriously considering the possibility of drafting him in at the top of the order for the upcoming West Indies tour.
“Now, the PCB has given its clearance and chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq has had a discussion with the national team’s head coach Mickey Arthur about probable selections for the Test series in the West Indies and Butt’s name has been discussed seriously,” a source privy to the developments told PTI.
A veteran of 33 Tests, Butt led Pakistan in the controversial 2010 trip to England. In the infamous Lord’s Test, he was found guilty of spot-fixing alongside fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir. He received a 10-year suspension for ordering the duo to bowl no-balls in exchange for money. However, Butt’s ban was later reduced to five years after he agreed to participate in an Anti-Corruption program under PCB’s purview.
The heart of the matter
Upon serving a five-year ban, Amir returned to the Pakistani side early last year and is now a regular starter across all three formats. However, the other two players continued to be overlooked despite completing their respective bans. During the 2016 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Butt scored 741 runs from 10 matches at an average of 49.40 including 4 centuries and 2 fifties to lead Water & Port Development Authority (WAPDA) to the title.
Despite showing impressive form in the domestic circuit, the 32-year old has found it hard to convince the selectors until now. Even as Arthur is believed to be sceptical of offering a recall to Butt, the selectors are reportedly keen on including him for the national training camp prior to the squad’s announcement.
The 3-match Test series between West Indies and Pakistan will begin on April 22nd at the Sabina Park in Jamaica. Before that, there are 4 T20Is and 3 ODIs scheduled between the two sides.
With Azhar Ali establishing himself as a solid opening batsman and Sami Aslam showing signs of becoming a decent prospect, the move to offer a comeback to Butt could turn out to be a backwards step for Pakistan cricket. The selectors need to show faith in their regular openers and include the promising Fakhar Zaman as a backup option.