New Lahore Qalandars recruit Salman Butt “has learnt his lesson” and is a “changed man”, believes the franchise coach Aqib Javed.
Butt’s years-long wait for a return to mainstream cricket finally ended this week when the Qalandars picked him to replace their injured captain Mohammad Hafeez.
The left-handed batsman was the captain of the Pakistan national team before the infamous spot-fixing scandal of 2010 got him banned from playing cricket and derailed his international career.
Having served his time, Butt had been gunning for a comeback to the national and PSL-fold, only to find no takers the past few years. This changed when the Qalandars offered him a chance for redemption — something Javed thinks fans should, too.
“It’s nearly 10 years and he is done with his punishment,” Javed is quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “I strongly believe that he has learnt his lesson and is a changed man. He will never think about risking his career and would be the last person to think in that direction again. He has done well since his return and he is a skillful cricketer. He played enough cricket and was always there in the system making his name since his return. He led WAPDA, the Lahore region and has scored heavily.”
Butt has been one of the heaviest scorers in domestic competitions — a fact signified by his astonishing 55-run average in T20 matches since Jan 2016.
Javed says Butt’s numbers, experience, fitness and commitment made it impossible for his hometown franchise to ignore him.
“He was averaging over 55 and if someone has such an impressive average it can’t be ignored,” he said. “He was our first choice earlier but now being a second option he is a good option to fill the gap. I saw his domestic record, which has been prominent since his return.
“His stats are impressive and we needed a guy who can really anchor at No. 3. He has been amazing with his numbers and with maintaining his fitness. It wasn’t a decision that took us a lot [of time] to think but it was more important to take every stakeholder on board. The best feature about Butt is his commitment to cricket. He is fit and is a utility cricketer with lots of experience.”