Ifs and Butts
I was lucky enough to watch Salman Butt on debut. The immediate observation was this was a young player with a tremendous amount of time and hence--almost paradoxically--able to play the ball wonderfully late. A bright future as Pakistan's star opener beckoned. Since then Salman has delighted and dumbfounded. Some of his best efforts have come against Australia while last summer he was sent home early from England after a disappointing tour.
Now the young man is vice-captain, a tribute to his potential both as a player and as a thinking cricketer. Youth must have its day, of course, but there seems to be an unseemly haste about his appointment. Salman is yet to secure his place in the team. There are many other not-so-old candidates knocking around (and I go back to my advocacy of the two vice-captain theory). And the signal that the PCB is trying to send out with his appointment is a needless one.
Salman Butt's most valuable role for Pakistan is as a formidable opener. The vice-captaincy is a trifling thing that can be gifted and withdrawn on a whim. It is not a guaranteed route to the captaincy. This latest wonder of decision making may create unnecessary pressure, and harm Salman the Batsman and ironically Salman the Future Captain.
Let's hope not. Salman Butt can become a highly successful cricketer for Pakistan. On this occasion, his cause has been hampered by the misplaced enthusiasm of his employers.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here