Former batsman Ramiz Raja insists he will always be against the idea of an international recall for disgraced Salman Butt, saying tainted cricketers should never be “given any second chance.”
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief selector Inzamam Ul-Haq confirmed on Saturday that they are looking at the option of reintegrating Butt, 32, into the national team with the possibility of him playing for a Pakistan A side first.
Butt has not donned the national jersey since he was jailed for 30 months, although he was released after seven months, following his involvement in the spot-fixing case that overshadowed the fourth Test against England at Lord’s in 2010.
He served a five-year ban from the ICC however Butt has pressed his case for selection after impressing in the domestic competitions.
The men in green will begin life without two of the most influential batsmen after batting mainstays Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan called time on their international careers after the West Indies Test series in May.
Sarfraz Ahmed has taken over the armband in the longer format with his first assignment against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Butt is not named in that squad but it does of course Mohammed Amir, who was also found guilty of the same spot-fixing incident at Lord’s.
Amir eventually made his international comeback against New Zealand in a T20I in January 2016 – and his since been a formidable part of the team in all formats.
While Raja has questioned whether Amir should be representing his nation, he believes there should be no way back for tainted cricketers including ex-skipper Butt, even if there are batting debacles.
“My take on tainted cricketers remains the same over the years,” he told Sport360° at the t-Lounge by Dilmah at Dubai’s Ibn Battuta Mall.
“We have suffered a lot in their hands and they don’t need any mercy, they don’t need any second chance.
“I can only raise my voice and I have got a certain opinion and one which I will stick by with my principle. When you play for your country, it’s an honour. There should be 11 people who are looking to win you the match. Suddenly you find that eight of them were trying desperately to win you a match and three who were conspiring to lose you the game. That experience can only be felt by a player who is actually part of such a scenario.
“Pakistan had to regain its status after being thrown into this situation. Under Misbah they have now resurfaced and it was a tremendous achievement by Misbah and his men.
“For me, two and half years of cricket jail-term is nothing. So in my book, all these players, should not be given another chance.”
For now, the focus for Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur will be to build on their Champions Trophy and World XI series successes in the Test series against Sri Lanka.
Raja believes Ahmed has all the qualities to make Pakistan a formidable force in the longer format and believes Sri Lanka, who suffered a series whitewash to India in August, is the perfect opposition to make his bow.
“Misbah and Younis will be badly missed,” said Raja, who played 198 ODIs and 57 Tests. “It’s a new beginning under a new captain and I’m hoping that we will see Sarfraz contribute as a captain and impact Pakistan Test cricket in a different way.
“Misbah had his own method and did extremely well over the years. Sarfraz has his own ways of dealing with situations and has been extremely successful when it comes to T20 and 50-overs cricket. That will obviously help him to think positively as a Test captain.
“It won’t be simple and he will have to rejig their batting combination and the only good bit about Test cricket is that they are playing Sri Lanka who are at their weakest mentally. They have been beaten by India and Zimbabwe in the Tests and this mental situation will allow Sarfraz to settle in. It will give him a bit more breathing space.”
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