Disgraced former Pakistan captain Salman Butt is back in the limelight but this time for a different set of reasons.
The 33-year-old left-handed batsman has been overlooked, quite understandably, by the Pakistan management for three years following the expiry of the five-year ban imposed on him for his involvement in the 2010 Lord’s Test spot-fixing scandal.
Left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir, also implicated in that scandal, came back into the team almost immediately upon the completion of his ban but Butt, who was seen as the leader of the operation and much more aware of the seriousness of the situation than the-then teenaged Amir, has not found many supporters in the Pakistan senior establishment.
Butt returned to domestic cricket in 2016 and hit top form straightaway, helping his team WAPDA win Pakistan’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy first-class tournament. However, despite promises of being considered for selection, Butt didn’t get a look-in. It is believed the 2017 PSL spot-fixing scandal made the management edgy about optics.
However, it seems there is a ray of hope for Butt. According to reports in Pakistan, Butt has a good chance of making it to the Pakistan ‘A’ that will face the England Lions towards the end of the year in the UAE.
Speaking to Cricbuzz, Butt said he deserves an opportunity just like Amir and should at least get to play for Pakistan ‘A’.
“Nobody from the board has contacted me,” Butt said. “Inzi bhai had said in a press conference that I would be tried in the A team first. That time the A tour did not happen. Now with this series coming up, it is good that you have reminded of it.”
Pakistan excluded veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez from the final squad for the Asia Cup tournament, while young all-rounder Imad Wasim was axed after failing the fitness test for the second time.
Hafeez was part of the squad that played five ODIs in Zimbabwe but didn’t feature in a single match. Pakistan’s selectors decided to go with in-form batsman Shan Masood after the opener scored 1,200-plus runs in two domestic one-day tournaments.
Left-arm spinning all-rounder Wasim had failed the fitness on Monday, falling short of the Yo-Yo test benchmark of 17.4 by .02 points. He failed to pass the test on Tuesday and chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said the decision was straightforward.
“We have a clear policy that only players who pass fitness tests will be selected. This isn’t only for Imad, it’s for all players. If they fail a test once, we give them another opportunity. Imad Wasim unfortunately couldn’t pass it,” Inzamam said.
Injustice to Muhammad Hafeez. In Zimbabwe no chance in odi series and now dropped while we have no quality Offspiner in squad. CT final super innings and two 50,s 🏏 in NZ where Malik, Babar and Sarfraz failed but he is not in CS and Mickey plans 🙄.#AsiaCup2018 #Injustice pic.twitter.com/0GIx93N32g— Ahmer Najeeb (@AhmerNajeeb) September 4, 2018
The future of Hafeez now hangs in the balance as at 37 years of age, it will be extremely difficult for him to fight his way back.
The Asia Cup begins on September 15 and includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and a qualifier team. Sarfraz Ahmed leads the Pakistan side which opens its campaign against a qualifier on September 16 before taking on India three days later. Both games are in Dubai.
The final will be held on September 28 in Dubai.
Squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan Shinwari, Shaheen Shah Afridi
Pakistan players underwent fitness tests during their ongoing training camp in Lahore and according to reports, 17 out of the 18 members passed the Yo-Yo test.
Spinning all-rounder Imad Wasim has reportedly missed the the benchmark of 17.4 by just 0.2 points and is expected to take the test again on Tuesday.
According to reports from Pakistan, quite a few players easily crossed the minimum standard required to be considered for selection.
Apparently, fast bowler Hasan Ali had the highest score of 20 which makes him one of the fittest cricketers not only in the subcontinent but also world cricket.
Yoyo Test Passing marks 17.4— ٰImran Siddique (@imransiddique89) September 3, 2018
Hassan Ali 20.0
Shoaib Malik 17.8
Imad wasim failed with 17.2 marks
Many New Zealand, England and Australia players are said to have Yo-Yo scores of more than 20, with some even going beyond 21.
Kohli is said to be one of the fittest players overall in the game with his endurance and agility said to be one of the very best. But when it comes to actual Yo-Yo scores, Hasan reportedly trumps the India captain.
According to various reports from India, Kohli’s Yo-Yo scores have ranged range from 19 to 19.3. It’s excellent in its own right, but Hasan has bettered them according to reports which should be a matter of great pride for the Pakistan quick.