Lahore: Tainted by a notorious spot-fixing scandal rocking Pakistan cricket and in which he was the leading character, Salman Butt appeared in an advisory mode on Thursday, as the end to his ban nears.
Salman, whose ten-year ban by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on playing domestic and international cricket ends on Sept 1, was advising young aspirants to learn a lesson from his case.
“No doubt it was not easy to remain disassociate from cricket [during the ban]. I am getting a new life [after the ban ends] but I will advise youngsters not to indulge in any illegal practice and always keep in mind the punishment factor,” Salman said while addressing a press conference here at the Model Town Greens ground.
Salman — who was captaining the team when the scandal of spot-fixing hit Pakistan cricket — fought his case before eventually losing its appeals in the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.
While thanking his critics and supporters for playing their role during the last five years, Salman said the criticism also serves in removing one’s flaws.
He also thanked the Lahore Region Cricket Association (LRCA) for including his name in the Lahore Blues squad for the National T20 Cup qualifying round starting in Rawalpindi on Sept 1.
Though the PCB has raised its objection over the LRCA allowing Salman to play in the event, saying first the cricketer had to fulfil more conditions before getting eligible for selection, the player himself reckoned the conditions were of ordinary nature and he could complete those whenever the PCB asked him.
“I have already given my availability to the Board and whatever requirement of the tribunal is, I am here to fulfil it,” Salman, 30, said.
It is learnt that the LRCA had not only included the name of Salman Butt in its Blues team but also Asif in the same team.
But the LRCA has given an option for both the players. The PCB, in the meantime, has contacted the ICC to get clarification on certain points before allowing both Asif and Salman to participate in the said T20 event.
The PCB is not ready to make any further comment on this issue.
While Imran Butt’s name was sent as replacement for Salman, Ahmad Bashir is the replacement for Asif, recommended by the LRCA.
Meanwhile, Salman said during the ban he continued playing cricket. Therefore, he would soon get his true form.
“Over the last five years I have practised and trained regularly,” he said. “It’s true that if you don’t play competitive cricket for some time you get rusty but with few matches it will be fine.
“It is not easy to match international standards after an absence of five years but hopefully by playing domestic cricket I will soon regain the required touch.”
To a question, the left-handed opener said there was a very tough competition in getting back the opening slot in the Pakistan team.
However, he termed the competition healthy a good sign for Pakistan cricket.
“Yes both Azhar Ali and Mohammad Hafeez are doing well as openers. It is creating a healthy competition, which is a sign that only performance will matter in [team] selection,” he said.
Salman, responding to another query, paid tribute to Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq, saying the man had been an inspiration for the entire cricket fraternity.
“The way Misbah has maintained his fitness at this age [41 plus] is not easy, and therefore it must be an inspiration for all the cricketers,” he said.