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Sports

March 21, 2017

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Salman Butt’s selection shelved in wake of PSL spot-fixing case

Salman Butt’s selection shelved in wake of PSL spot-fixing case

LAHORE: Plans for an international recall for former Pakistan captain Salman Butt have been shelved for now, in light of the continuing fallout from the recent corruption allegations emanating from the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Butt has no connection to the PSL corruption issue, but his role in the spot-fixing scandal in England in 2010, for which he was banned, has forced a selection rethink ahead of Pakistan’s tour of the West Indies. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan had publicly cleared Butt’s potential selection earlier this year, but it appears he will have to wait longer for a comeback.

Cricinfo understands Butt was even informed by a selector last month that he was being considered for the national side. But last week he was told that those plans had been set aside for now, as the present circumstances were not ideal for his return.

Five players — Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Irfan, Shahzaib Hasan and Nasir Jamshed — were provisionally suspended for their alleged involvement in spot-fixing during the PSL and face various corruption charges. The PCB was thus keen to avoid criticism by recalling Butt, who has not featured for his country since returning to domestic cricket from a five-year ban for corruption.

Butt’s name had cropped up in recent selection meetings — headed by Inzamam-ul-Haq — as a reflection of Pakistan’s continuing struggle with opening batsmen. There was reluctance among some members of the management but the proposition wasn’t rejected outright, and the chairman’s clearance was seen as a green signal.

Since his return Butt has impressed on the domestic circuit. He was the second-highest run-scorer in the National One-Day Cup with 536 runs at 107.20 in 2015. He resumed his first-class career in 2016, as captain of the WAPDA side which won the Quaid-e-Azam trophy, and scored 749 runs at 49.40 in the season, including twin hundreds in the final. He was also the second highest run-getter in the National T20 Cup last year.

Butt was 26 when he was banned, having played 33 Tests, 78 ODIs and 24 T20Is. Since then, he has attended anti-corruption rehabilitation programmes conducted by the PCB, taken part in social work and publicly apologised, though he had pleaded his innocence until 2013. Butt, who was Pakistan captain at the time, was also sentenced to 30 months in jail for his part in the Lord’s scandal.

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