Salman Butt, who has been out of action from the international scene since the infamous events at Lord’s back in 2010, has shown majestic touch with the bat of late. The veteran is leading WAPDA in domestic cricket and was the top scorer at the recently-concluded Quaid-e-Azam One Day Cup. He racked up 559 runs in 10 innings and was named ‘Player of the Tournament’.
“By the grace of Allah, I am the top scorer of the Quaid -e-Azam One Day Cup. I have scored more than 500 runs, with average and strike rate both in excess of 90. It is there for the selectors and the PCB to see and to select me. On the basis of my form and fitness, if they think I am deserving then they should select me,” Salman added.
The 34-year-old shed light on the concerns raised by current and former players over the standard of pitches in domestic cricket.
“The four-day match which was stopped took place at Marghazar in Islamabad. This does not happen very often; it was a one-off incident. The pitch was under-prepared and the ground was dangerous for the players. We have green pitches in our domestic cricket. Green pitches and Dukes ball make it very hard for the batsmen. Games usually end within two days, which should not happen. The batsmen should apply themselves in order to score runs and the bowlers must probe to take wickets. The standard must be raised so that the matches could last the full length of four days and the spinners must also come into action,” said Salman.
The veteran termed televising domestic cricket in Pakistan as ‘need of the hour’. “Just like the Pakistan Super League, we should televise the One Day matches, at least. The domestic players will get recognition and they will get used to performing in front of the audience. The players will be able to control the pressure chunk between international and domestic cricket. It will benefit Pakistan cricket in the long run.”
Salman Butt, who is part of the ‘Gold Category’ in the upcoming Pakistan Super League draft which is all set to take place on November 20 in Islamabad, had his name among the nominees last year as well but failed to make the cut.
He hailed Quaid-e-Azam trophy as the launch pad for producing talent in the league itself.
“Quaid-e-Azam trophy is its production house. If we do not pay attention to our domestic cricket, we will face problems in the PSL as well. Quaid-e-Azam trophy is our base and our launch pad. If we respect that, we will be able to maintain a decent standard of our cricket as well.”
For over six years, none of the players who have made their first-class debuts in Pakistan and then went on to represent the national team, have registered a Test century or bagged ‘Man of the Match’ award in Test cricket.
“I am not aware of this stat. It is certainly disappointing. Six years is a very long time and the youngsters must present themselves well in Test cricket. Their performances must stand out. It is a very interesting stat and again, six years is a very long time.”
Salman Butt’s reaction on ‘Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit’ exposing the global scale of match-fixing in cricket was not too surprising.
“It is not for me to answer. It has to come from the high-ups based on the strategy they put forth. We, as players, have to follow the code of conduct and abide by the rules they come up with. The strategy and policy making is for the administration to decide.”
The former captain took the field for Pakistan 135 times across all three formats and scored 5209 runs in total. Eight years on, he is still topping the domestic charts in the country. If this has more to do with lack of player development or his sheer brilliance with the bat, the question remains unattended. Salman Butt’s chances of donning the Pakistan jersey again hangs in the balance.