Salman Butt has cut an impressive figure throughout this summer's Test series against England. Until yesterday. A man who had answered every tricky question, from every angle, about the fortunes of his unpredictable cricket team suddenly seemed happy to seek shelter from the corruption storm swirling all around him.
Pakistan captains have come and gone at a steady rate over the years. In Butt, though, the selectors looked to have stumbled on a leader capable of serving them well into the future. Today, however, it is anyone's guess how long he will last.
Heavily implicated in the alleged spot-betting scandal, Butt said nothing and looked at no one yesterday as he and his colleagues trooped into the Lord's dressing room via a back entrance. And there he stayed until after his team had been beaten.
This summer, Butt has appeared before the media and, having been articulate and up-front while talking about the heavy defeats at Trent Bridge and Nottingham, he deserved to speak with a smile on his face following Pakistan's unexpected victory at The Oval a week ago.
Yesterday, though, the 26-year-old had few answers to questions he would not have anticipated facing when handed the Test captaincy last month following Shahid Afridi's decision to quit.
Yawar Saeed, the Pakistan tour manager, took almost all the strike at the post-match media conference – and batsman Butt, by his side, seemed more than content to let him. He did come out of his shell on a couple of occasions, however, when pressed about both his leadership future and his honesty.
"Pakistan have won a Test against Australia after 15 years and England after nine years, so does that make me resign from the situation?", was Butt's first line of retaliation. And then he tried to deal with the fixing issue.
"These are just allegations," he said. "Anyone can stand out and say anything about you. It doesn't make them true. They include quite a few people and they're still ongoing and we will see what happens. I haven't heard any allegations except just taking my name. There's nothing I have seen or has been shown on TV that involves me."
Other people will be the judge of that. For now, though, Butt, fast bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, plus wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, have a lot of explaining to do.Reuse content