Salman Butt accuses Shahid Afridi of blocking his return to international cricket
Salman Butt feels Afridi erased the hopes of his international return. (AFP Image)

Former captain Salman Butt has claimed that Shahid Afridi prevented his return to the Pakistan team for the 2016 World T20 despite him serving the five-year ban following the 2010 spot-fixing scandal. Butt believes he was close to being selected for the World T20 in India after he had resumed playing domestic cricket following the completion of his ban in 2015, but Afridi resisted his selection. (ALSO READ: Butt calls for strong domestic structure for Pakistan cricket)

“I was called to the NCA by head coach, Waqar Younis and batting coach, Grant Flower and they took me to the nets and checked my fitness,” Butt said on the Gsports show Tuesday night. “Waqar bhai asked me if I was mentally ready to play for Pakistan again and I said yes very much.”

Butt, 34, added that the road seemed clear for his comeback to the national team before Afridi, who was the captain then, stepped in and blocked his return.

“I don’t know what prompted him to do this but I didn’t go to him or speak about it. I didn’t feel it was right. But what I know is that Waqar and Flower told me I was playing the World Cup and then Afridi resisted,” Butt claimed.

Pakistan fared poorly in the World T20 as a result of which both Afridi and Waqar were forced to resign. Looking back at the chapter, Butt felt individual players should be allowed to decide the fate of players returning from bans. The opener said he was also close to selection in the Pakistan team in early 2017 when the spot-fixing scandal broke out in the Pakistan Super League.

“I don’t know what more I have to do to be considered for selection again. I have completed my rehabilitation and I have scored runs,” he said. But I think it is great injustice if no one comes clear with us and tells us no matter what we do, we are not going to be picked for Pakistan again. I don’t see the use of working so hard and doing so much if we are left to remain in uncertainty.”

Butt, along with his teammates Mohammad Asif and Mohammad, was caught in the spot-fixing scandal on the tour of England in August, 2010. He was named as Pakistan captain after Afridi had stepped down as Test captain following a defeat in the first Test at Lords.