Butt keeps faith in Kamran Akmal
Kamran Akmal dropped a sitter, missed out on a stumping and another crucial catch of Eoin Morgan which landed only a few inches from his gloves in England's first innings. Over the past couple of days both Salman Butt and Waqar Younis, Pakistan's captain-coach pair, have stressed that if those chances were held Trent Bridge could've been an altogether different story.
Kamran's abject glovework drew widespread criticism from cricket pundits including Michael Holding and Nasser Husaain, to name just two, who felt the biggest repercussion was the confidence of Pakistan's fast bowlers would be hurt if Kamran failed to improve. There have also been suggestions that Kamran be dropped and Pakistan groom a youngster, with Zulqarnain Haider the backup keeper in the squad.
Yet Butt feels there is hope for Kamran. "It has just been one game," Butt said. "This happened to him in Australia as well after that he has done well." Kamran had a dreadful Test at the SCG in January, where he put down four catches in the second innings and missed a run-out as Pakistan gave up what looked like certain victory.
He was dropped for the final Test of that series in Hobart, but his replacement, Sarfraz Ahmed, has not made the squad for this series. Butt was also not convinced that choosing a new gloveman would remedy the situation, and he felt it would be a short-sighted approach to axe the vice-captain.
"If we've lost the game and he has made a mistake against a good side in difficult conditions you don't ask the youngster to come in and bear the follies of somebody else," Butt said. "He has to come up and show his character and make a strong comeback. And we believe he will because he has been a great player."
He also reminded the critics about Kamran's explosive batting in the lower order, which if it clicks has proved decisive. "The guy has six Test hundreds against the world's best sides and every time he scores runs Pakistan wins or draws the game," Butt said. "So you can't take the credit away from the man."
However, his record against the better Test sides of the past few years is poor, and against Australia in particular he has struggled with an average of 15.57 in seven Tests. Kamran's past 12 months with the bat have been disappointing, as he has averaged 26.53 and has not made a half-century in his past 10 innings.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo