Salman Butt has admitted his sudden elevation to the Pakistan captaincy in the wake of Shahid Afridi's abrupt resignation is far from ideal and that he would prefer to have been appointed to the position on a permanent basis.
Afridi quit both the leadership and the Test team in the immediate aftermath of Pakistan's heavy defeat in the first Test against Australia and Butt, Pakistan's best batsman at Lord's, was hastily elevated into his place for the second game, which begins at Headingley this morning. He will be Pakistan's third Test captain in six months.
"It is a great honour," he said yesterday. "The way it has come [to me] is certainly not like it has come to anyone before so I hope it goes well. Everybody who gets into this type of challenging position, it helps to be a permanently appointed person. That's the kind of nature we have, but hopefully I can do well and maybe we can stretch it a bit longer."
Butt, 25, will take charge for the four Tests against England that follow as well and will have to get used to being targeted now as the team's leader, an approach Australia have long been keen on. "We know they've got a new leader for this game, and he's someone who played well in the last game," said Ricky Ponting, his opposite number in Leeds. "We have to make sure we make life as tough as possible for him."
Pakistan may look towards another former captain Shoaib Malik to help bolster their middle order.
Pakistan (probable) Imran Farhat, Salman Butt (capt), Umar Amin, Azhar Ali, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wk), Mohammad Aamer, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Asif.
Australia (probable) Watson, Katich, Ponting (capt), Clarke, Hussey, North, Paine (wk), Smith, Johnson, Hilfenhaus, Bollinger.