Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt believes that the national team will struggle in the upcoming two-Test series against England as many of the players are too inexperienced.
Players like Fakhar Zaman, Saad Ali and Usman Salahuddin have yet to make their Test debuts, while opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf have only played one Test, which came against Ireland earlier this month.
With the Test squad having seen an influx of youth since the senior duo of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan retired, Butt is unconvinced that Pakistan have what it takes to beat England.
“The squad’s inexperience in early-summer English conditions will be a big problem,” Butt was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. “Especially given that fact that we will be missing the services of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan.
“Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq did quite well in the previous visit to England but their performances this time around will need to be a lot better and will be crucial for Pakistan’s success.”
“Realistically speaking, given the inexperienced Pakistan side chosen for this series, it would be a good outcome if the visitors can give a reasonable account of themselves and compete as best as they can.”
Despite the lack of senior players in the side, Butt admitted that the Test series presents an opportunity for talented youngsters like Saad to make their presence felt.
“I am pleased to see Saad Ali being picked for this tour as that is how top domestic performers should be rewarded,” he said. “Only when someone like Saad Ali is given a chance to play international cricket can we judge his true potential and also, it’s a fact that only by playing at the highest level can a talented player get the experience he needs to develop into a top-quality batsman in the future.”
Some of the players picked in the Test squad, like Ashraf, were done so based on their performance in the recent edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Butt conceded that he is not a fan of selecting players for the longest format in regards to how they fare in a limited overs tournament.
“There are so many surprises in this part of the world, that this sort of selection didn’t really shock me that much,” he said. “I feel that there is a trend nowadays to pick One-Day and T20 players for Tests and do a bit of experimentation.
“However, one must remember that Test cricket is a real test of a player’s skills and must be taken seriously. You need experienced Test players in your side which doesn’t seem to be the case in the Pakistan side chosen for this tour. All we can do is wish them the best of luck and hope that they all do well, as they will need it.”
During Pakistan’s tour of England back in 2010, Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were all indicted in a spot-fixing scandal and were banned for five years. They also spent time in prison for their actions.
However, while Amir has returned to the squad and resumed his international career, Butt and Asif continue to be snubbed, even though they have put up a string of strong performances on the domestic circuit.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
When asked why this is the case, Butt said: “What can one say? I have tried everything in my powers, but this has been the situation for a while now. Of course, I am disappointed at this turn of events and I really don’t know the reason or the criteria behind my non-selection for the Pakistan side. Perhaps it’s simply a case of the selectors having made up their mind to ignore me.
“For a while now, whilst Mohammad Amir is being selected for international duties, Mohammad Asif and I have been ignored for selection and its come to a point where there isn’t much more I can do. Perhaps this is more of a question now for the selectors to answer.”
The 33-year-old pointed out that had he been picked for the tour of England, it would have “served as an opportunity for redemption” for what occurred in 2010.
“There is never any point in indulging in what-ifs, but I suppose it would have been great if I had been selected for the Test squad as that would have provided me with an opportunity to not only get back into international cricket but also perform well in England,” he said. “It could have served as an opportunity for redemption in front of fans and critics in a place where things originally went so horribly wrong for me in 2010.”
Despite having failed to regain his spot in the national team after knocking on the door on multiple occasions, Butt made it clear that he isn’t giving up on his dream of representing his country once again.
“I am trying my best to make sure I remain in contention for a place in the Pakistan side,” the Lahore native said. “To this end, I am training hard and putting in the effort and aiming to do well in domestic cricket in the coming season.
“Even Pakistan’s Chief Selector, Inzamam-ul-Haq had told me that he expected me to be selected for Pakistan, but I am not sure what is stopping him from doing that. Ultimately, one has to leave these things to the Almighty and hope and pray that I am able to achieve my goal of returning to play for Pakistan once again.”