An open letter to Salman Butt

Published: November 2, 2011
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When you were made the captain of the Pakistan cricket team, I was the happiest man in the world. How foolish of me. PHOTO: AFP

Dear Salman Butt,

I started following you from your days in the Under 17s. I still remember how I started loving Slazenger bats with yellow coloured grips, just because I saw you playing with one in an U-17 Asia Cup match back then. I still remember, randomly enough, that Habib Oil Mills sponsored that tournament.

I still remember your test debut against Bangladesh at Multan, where you made a quick fire 37 in the second innings. Salman, I still remember your ODI debut against West Indies, where you were out for a duck, caught in the slips. It was a decent delivery by Ian Bradshaw but you have carried that illness of fishing outside the off stump.

How can I forget your innings at the Eden Gardens? You battled cramps and immense pressure to guide Pakistan through. It was the month of Ramazan too. Good old times, Salman.

You toured Australia with the team next and boy, did you play well. I remember you making a statement against Glen McGrath in the second test at Melbourne, hitting out in his very first over. Of course it was after the debacle at Perth where we were bowled out for 72. What a promising start it was against the best team in the world, a fifty in your third test and a hundred in the fourth.

You were dropped after another test match though. I always opposed the move, not that it mattered. You were dropped in the West Indies too. Again, I felt you were hard done by. You deserved a proper run at the top.

You made a great comeback against England at home. What a patient 122 it was at Multan. The inconsistency settled in again though with Irfan Pathan making you his bunny on India’s tour of Pakistan.

Salman, I was impressed with your ability to withstand pressure, proof of which you gave time and again with centuries against India in the Kitply Cup and in India back in early 2008. The test tour to Australia saw you shine like a true linchpin of this fragile batting line up. Too bad you ran Mo Yo out though.

I always believed in you. When they gave you the captaincy, I was the happiest man in Pakistan. I knew our team was in safe hands.

But I was obviously fooling myself.

Your eloquence after the win against Australia at Headingley was obviously just meant to fool us. After every test match, I used to go and see your average. I always wanted you to move up to the 40s. Maybe, Salman, if you had stayed away from Mazhar Majeed, that would have been possible. I saw, in you, the Gautam Gambhir of Pakistan.  Why couldn’t you just come out and deny all the allegations as soon as they came out in the open? Your first press conference after this scandal broke down, where you were flanked by Yawar Saeed, was a big indication of your guilt. Your body language reflected that of a person who was caught. You didn’t deny it openly then. You cannot deny it now.

I am sure you will still call it all a big conspiracy but my belief in you has faded away. As a true cricket fan, I feel wronged. Cricket will never be the same for me.

Every time there is a dropped catch, a missed run out, a no ball, or a wide; I start questioning it from angles that I could not have imagined back in 2010; and it is all because of you.

Imran Ahmad Khan

Imran Ahmad Khan

The author is a student of journalism at Columbia University. Before this, he worked for the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan Super League. He tweets @imranahmadkh

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.rhythmofunity.com Sohaib

    Eden Gardens innings till yesterday, I had always supported him. Always wanted to see Asif clean bowl Tendulkar and Sehwag. Sad sad day for all of us.Recommend

  • Word Life

    @ Salman Butt, you have caused immense shame and brought dishonour to the country.
    ICC should have placed a life ban on you

    I pitty the people who think you were innocent

    Pakistan Cricket is bigger than three thugs like you, combined

    They will not miss you, the fans will not miss youRecommend

  • emad asad

    youre taking this way too seriously missRecommend

  • Aamir

    The guy himself told the court that he had earned 150 million rupees lawful money in his cricketing career. But he had greed for even more at the expense of dishonouring his country. I feel no pity for him, absolutely nothing. Make him an example!Recommend

  • Ali Tipu

    Lets not forget that the system supports the dishonest here. I am sure many of the so-called ‘patriotic’ people who have been yelling their hearts out against the trio since the day the scandal broke out are themselves cheats in one way or the other. Many of them dont pay their taxes, take bribes, give bribes, are indulged in day light robbery by looting money from poor. From a rehri-wala in my street to a parliamentarian, from a shopkeeper to a billionaire, you will find only a very few people who are loyal to the country, to the people and society. This is a country where the pilgrims of Hajj are looted in the most horrendous of the manners by none other than the minister for religious affair. Not a fan of those three as they got what they deserve but what’s with this display of sheer hypocrisy by Pakistanis? Is their patriotism, their prayers, their loyalty and honesty only reserved for a game of cricket? Baqi mamalat main kahan rah jati hai ghairat?Recommend

  • MK

    Salman,Asif and Amir, all three of u hve led the whole nation down. We will not forgive you…Recommend

  • ahmad

    i have liked salman butt i loved his batting but he has hurted usRecommend

  • Pakistani

    @Ali Tipu
    You stole all my thoughts. Thanks for showing our nation their/our true face.Recommend

  • Shahid3

    When one looks at the background of grinding povery from which Mohammad Asif came, it’s not too surprising that he lost his head when confronted with the glamor and charms that are within easy reach in places like Dubai and London. Aamir was just a teenager when he came across this overflowing gutter and disastrously wade stright into it. But, like Cronje for South Africa, Butt was the real disappointment for all those who used to associate him with match-winning century in front of 100,000 at Kolkata. The hypocrite used to ostentatiously offer sajda as soon as he reached triple digits. Now, anyone who does the same will also be regarded with suspicion.Recommend

  • umair mahmood

    I have vivid memories of the Eden Garden Match against India. It was some sort of an anniversary of BCCI & what a present PCB gave them.

    It was the best Eid I had in Saudi Arabia.

    It was like India vs Salman Butt.

    But sadly, I guess as time went by, the touch of leather to his skin in luxury cars became more important than the leather ball he played with. Recommend

  • saliha

    your post only shows your weak beliefs, if you stop to think for a second you may realize how wrong you are for doubting salman butt and his character or his plea of innocence. cricket hasn’t been the same for years and many of the biggest cricketers who everyone worship nowadays have done much worse and have gotten away with it because people like you go blind-sighted when it comes to them. its a shame how our country and its people have made it a habit and find it so ordinary to give your own countrymen in the hands of foreigners and give them the authority to decide their fate. if this is the case then why not hand over our reigns to them and let them run the country, it’s not like we’ve prospered very much in the past 64 years. Recommend

  • saliha

    @Ali Tipu:

    very true… this country works through hypocrisy and all the hypocrits roam around without questioning… i mean there are people who abuse and curse the pcb one day and send a resignation showing how disappointed they are with the system and when they see a good opportunity and see the coast is clear they take everything back and come right back in and no-one…NO-ONE can even dare raise a finger on them and their character. dishonest and guilty are never caught instead are supported and the innocent pay the price of honesty and decency. shame on all of you for your narrow-mindednessRecommend

  • saliha

    @Shahid3:
    that’s the most ridiculous thing to say… you are no-one to judge anyone’s intentions when it comes to him/her and their relationship with Allah. how many times a day and with what feel and emotion do you submit before Allah to judge someone else’ intentions.Recommend

  • Ali

    Gautam Gambhir isn’t even half as talented as Butt. At the same age as Butt his average was much lower and he looked like a walking wicket when he came in to bat. His footwork and shots are jerky , almost mechanical even now that he has managed to achieve consistency in his performances. Salman on the other hand possessed silky smooth wrist work from the get go. But one area where Gambhir trumps Butt is that he is faithful to his talent. Either that or he has been able to avoid getting caught. Either way the ground reality is that a mediocre player will go down in history as one of the best of the era, while the more talented one will forever be tainted as a cheat. All this because the mediocre one was able to keep his greed in check. Puts everything nicely in perspective doesn’t it?Recommend

  • Usman Iqbal

    Pakistan must be renamed i.e.
    “Corruption Republic Of Pakistan”
    Then no one atleast cry in the court room. Smiles all around and it will be legal and some patriotic people won’t waste their time abusing almost everyone in this country :)Recommend

  • http://www.facetvs.com Saqib

    *its so much sad day for being pakistan . i cant understand why they did these kind of type hell stuff. anyways its ture that we are realy corrupt nation of the world . we need to improve our character as a nation . anways being a pakistani you can watch all these story on http://www.facetvs.com *Recommend

  • http://www.facetvs.com Saqib

    you are right Recommend

  • Arim

    Ah Salman! there was a time when I loved you… Recommend

  • Abuzar

    Sums it up: “Every time there is a dropped catch, a missed run out, a no ball, or a wide; I start questioning it from angles that I could not have imagined back in 2010; and it is all because of you.”Recommend

  • http://usman8146.blogspot.com USMAN

    Lol , you (writer) are the same person who write a blog regarding the comparison Butt and Afridi as a captain that who is the best . Lol Now you are saying that I was happy at butt’s captaincy . At that time , you were just bashing butt , lol . Dual standard writer .Recommend

  • Texan

    Dont believe everything you read and see.
    If your life was under a microscope … I am sure there would be quite a few things that you yourself are not proud of.
    I refuse to judge anyone. God is not going to ask me (on the day of judgment) if Salman Butt spent his life rightfully …. God is going to ask me about me and my actions.
    Anyways, what I am trying to say is … Dont hate. Pray for everyone and wish God helps us to stay on the right path. Ameen.Recommend

  • Texan

    @saliha:
    I absolutely agree. We have stopped “evolving” … we need to better ourselves …. and do the biggest and the most important Jihad ordered to us … the one that is done against oneself. Find flaws in yourself and work on those flaws. It is a must for every Muslim.
    Remember …. the society is from us … we are not from the society. We have to be the change that we want to see in our society.

    Also, the writer shows he has no backbone to stand on. Dont let one (or a few) people shake your trust. Man up dude !!!Recommend

  • malik

    I never knew Salman Butt was such a great batsman. I never watched him play, but from the way you’ve articulated your frustration, it appears that, if Salman Butt had continued playing for Pakistan, he would have surely ended up the most prolific scorer, even better than Inzamam. Anyone who attacks McGrath or scores centuries at Multan had to be good. I hope Salman will make a good comeback after his trial in UK is over.Recommend

  • adnan

    tro deserve worst evr punishment.their faces should be coloured in balck and make them to sit on monkeys and have a round of minar pakistanRecommend

  • Imran Ahmad Khan

    @Usman

    In one of my previous blog entries, I criticized Butt for criticizing Afridi. Butt said that Afridi was a clueless captain who was not leading from the front. And I just pointed out to Butt that he had not scored himself and this criticism was not needed. I never wrote an article comparing Butt and Afridi. That article was an Afridi-Misbah odi captaincy article, written 20 odd days before the World Cup.

    And this should not be confused with being happy at Butt being appointed captain in test matches. In addition, that should not mean I would have sided with Afridi’s sacking as test captain, had he been sacked.

    Hope this clarifies your misunderstanding.Recommend

  • Adnan Khan

    Salman Butt should be sent to jail for SEVEN YEARS MINIMUM. damn this punjabi ! Recommend

  • Ejaz

    Salman Butt is an average cricketer, I don’t think he is a great loss.
    Aamir and Asif are the real loss of Pakistani cricket. Both were outstanding bowlers. They should not have been spoiled by the corrupt Pakistani culture.Recommend

  • Mohammed Arif

    I wish if President Zardari appoint Mr. Cook as Chairman of the Circket Board, or a judge in our Judiciary to make such decisions in weeks rather than years. Thank you Mr. Cook for a solid decision against culprits. It was not possible in Pakistan as we hired judges in place of lawyers.Recommend

  • http://fuadsdiary.blogspot.com/ Ahmad Fuad

    I have played with Salman. There is no doubt that he was/is an exceptional cricketer. I know, bookies have access to the cricketers especially to those who belong to south asia, especially India. Cricketers from this area are more exposed to such issues. However, I believe, we should move forward by keeping positive side of Pakistani sports in mind.

    My opion can be found here.
    http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/8780/stop-dissing-pakistan-cricket/Recommend

  • http://www.ahmadhammad.com Ahmad Hammad

    @ Ahmad Fuad:
    In addition to this letter to Salman, Ahmad Fuad: I have read Your article too.
    It’s been wonderfully written dear. I agree that Pakistanis MUST feel pround of being Pakistanis. And for making them feel proud, the intellengentia should come forward.
    My opinion on Pakistaniat and our Heroes can be read at:
    http://www.ahmadhammad.com
    The article is available to the right of the page…Recommend

  • A broken hearted fan

    Pakistan has produced many cricket legends throughout history. More legends will come out. All i feel is that all our cricket achievements since we became test playing nation was nullified by single act of this trio. Noone remembers that we won many trophies. Everyone in the world is considering us as cheaters. Our all achievements were for nothing. I wish that this trio could realize that how much they have damaged our reputation. It will take a long time to to get rid of this stigma. No matter how much punishment this trio get, it will not be enough. I feel no sympathy for them.Recommend

  • http://www.ahmadhammad.com Ahmad Hammad