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From Ban to Board: Salman Butt’s Return Raises Eyebrows in Pakistan Cricket

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In a move that has sparked both controversy and conversation within the cricketing world, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has appointed Salman Butt, a former tainted captain, to the national selection panel. Butt, notorious for his involvement in the spot-fixing scandal that rocked international cricket in 2010, will serve as a consultant member alongside former teammates Kamran Akmal and Rao Iftikhar Anjum, assisting the recently appointed chief selector, Wahab Riaz.

Butt, now 39, had served a five-year ban for his role in spot-fixing during the Pakistan and England Test match in August 2010. Despite completing his suspension and making a successful return to cricket in 2016, he had been shunned from national team consideration, unlike his accomplice Muhammad Amir, who was swiftly reinstated into the Pakistan side in the same year.

The trio’s initial assignment will revolve around Pakistan’s upcoming five-match T20I series against New Zealand, scheduled to begin on January 12, 2024, following the Test tour to Australia. Additionally, they may engage in conducting skills camps when not involved in selection duties.

Butt, known for his prowess as an opener and for leading Pakistan to Test victories against Australia at Headingley and England at the Oval in 2010, found success as a batter and captain in domestic competitions after his return. Despite this, he remained sidelined from national team consideration, leading to his frustration about being unfairly treated while expressing remorse for his past actions.

The appointment of Butt, Akmal, and Anjum has reignited debates surrounding the handling of players involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing scandals. Former head coach Waqar Younis had advocated for Butt’s return to the national team in the past, but his comeback was thwarted by former captain Shahid Afridi’s strong opposition.

The inclusion of individuals tainted by past controversies raises questions about the PCB’s stance on integrity within the sport. While Butt has voiced his regret and desire for a second chance, the decision to integrate him into the selection panel remains contentious, stirring discussions about forgiveness, redemption, and the boundaries of second chances in the cricketing world.

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