Afridi unlikely to support Salman Butt’s return to team

KARACHI – Pakistan Twenty20 skipper Shahid Afridi does not seem to be in favour of tainted cricketer Salman Butt making a comeback to the national team.
A source in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) told PTI today that Butt, who completed a five-year ban for spot-fixing last September, was in contention for a immediate comeback to international cricket but Afridi showed his reluctance.
“Butt met with chief selector Haroon Rasheed last night in Lahore. The situation is that members of the Pakistan team have also indicated they have no problems with Butt joining the team but Afridi is not in favour of his inclusion,” the source said.
The source also said that the selectors were considering opener Butt for the World T20 after the team’s dismal batting performance in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh. “The selectors are desperate to find a solution to the opening problem in the Pakistan team and will also certainly recall experienced opener Ahmed Shehzad. Salman Butt is also under consideration,” the source said.
He said PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan and Najam Sethi are expected to meet Afridi in Lahore and convince him to drop his opposition to Butt’s recall to the team. While Afridi accepted the return of left arm pacer M Aamir but he is dead against allowing Butt a second chance.
“Afridi blames Butt for the spot-fixing scandal that shook Pakistan cricket in England in 2010, even though the former Test captain has twice apologised to the allrounder for his misdeeds,” the source said. “Afridi has strong belief that Butt instigated and spoilt Aamir and should not be allowed to get back into the Pakistan team soon,” he added.
Butt, when contacted, said he was keen to get another shot at reviving his international career. “I know what I did was wrong and I have served punishment for it. I am a changed person and I have apologised to the entire nation, PCB and the team members including Afridi for what happened in 2010,” he said.
“Afridi is my senior and I have apologised to him whenever I met him. I am mentally prepared for a comeback.
The rest is up to the selectors. But I am not keeping any high hopes,” added Butt. Butt had replaced Afridi as the Test captain in England in 2010 after the latter announced his retirement from the longest format of the game following the first Test defeat to Australia at Lords that year.
The spot fixing incident took place in the fourth Test against England in late August when Butt was captaining the side. The source said that important decisions could be expected to be taken on Monday when another meeting of the PCB high-ups and selectors take place in Lahore.
The Pakistan squad is due to leave for India by Wednesday but the government has said that it can’t go until a security delegation goes to India on Monday and gives clearance. Interestingly, Afridi, after returning to Karachi on Saturday, didn’t speak to the media but later tweeted: “I want to request the PM to look into the barriers which is preventing talent from grass root level to rise and prove their worth.”

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