x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Butt hopeful of return to team despite allegations

The former Pakistan Test captain says he is eager to return to cricket immediately after his hearing later this month and would be ready to join the team on their tour of the UAE.

Salman Butt is not giving up on his cricketing future.
Salman Butt is not giving up on his cricketing future.

Salman Butt, the former Pakistan Test captain, said yesterday he was eager to return to cricket immediately after his hearing later this month and would be ready to join the team on their tour of the UAE.

Butt, 26, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were banned from all forms of the game after they were charged with various offences under the anti-corruption code of conduct on September 2.

Instead of travelling with the team to the UAE - to play a Test and limited-overs series against South Africa between October 26 and November 24 - the trio will be in Qatar on October 30-31 for an International Cricket Council (ICC) hearing.

The charges concern revelations by The News of the World, the British tabloid, and subsequent investigations by ICC anti-corruption and security unit into spot-fixing allegations during Pakistan's tour of England.

Butt says he has not stopped practising since his suspension and is keen to join up with the national team for the matches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Should Butt have his suspension lifted he could be recalled to the team for the one-day international at Dubai Sports City on November 2.

"I have been keeping my fitness," he told Agence France Presse. "If my suspension is lifted on October 31, I will be available to play for Pakistan from the next day. I am eager to do that."

Butt said the allegations had derailed his career. "The way I was playing and leading the team was a very good stage of my career but these allegations have derailed it," he said.

Butt took over after Shahid Afridi, the tour captain, retired from Test cricket following Pakistan's defeat against Australia at Lord's.

Under his captaincy, Pakistan beat Australia in the second Test at Leeds - their first win over Australia for 15 years. Pakistan then lost the first two Tests against England before beating them at The Oval.

England won the fourth Test at Lord's to take the series 3-1 - the same day he spot-fixing allegations against Pakistani players surfaced.

Butt said the whole episode was a learning experience for him.

"It has taught me a lot about how to deal with the people around you, and you get to recognise people ... who is your friend and who is not."

Meanwhile, Imran Khan, the former Pakistan captain and politician, said yesterday the nation's cricket establishment had been "shamed" after the ICC asked the Pakistan Cricket Board to get their house in order in the context of the spot-fixing scandal.

"For years now our players have been linked to corruption," Imran said. "The ICC move to warn us and put us on notice is a shameful day for every Pakistani."