Stephen Brenkley: After offering glimpse of new era for his team, Butt leaves an acute sense of betrayal
In a way this ugly episode was good for Pakistan cricket, a harsh wake-up call
In the 15 months since Salman Butt was nabbed, in the four days since he was convicted it is still bewildering. That he betrayed his position, his team and probably his countrymen is now beyond doubt. His lawyers are considering an appeal against his sentence, of 30 months, but not his conviction for Butt's instrumental part in the match rigging at Lord's in August last year.
Yet for more than a month in the summer of 2010, lest it be forgotten, Butt was treated with unqualified reverence. He had hardened reporters, well accustomed to the superficial duplicities of the press briefing, eating from the palm of his hand.
It is not stretching the point much to suggest that he was viewed as a messianic figure. This, it was openly and repeatedly discussed, was the man to lead Pakistan cricket out of the wilderness and into the promised land.
Butt had assumed the captaincy in July after the shambolic, if brief, era of Shahid Afridi, a model of passionate indiscipline. Immediately, there was an air of charm and calm, as if Butt had been waiting for this moment.
From mid-July to late August, he played it just right and it helped no end that he was fluent in English. He regularly talked of the people at home who were deprived of international cricket because of the unstable state of the country and of the suffering of compatriots in the recent earthquake, into whose lives it was important to bring some joy.
When he won his first match in charge, the second of the neutral Tests against Australia, following Afridi's ignominious exit, there was an outpouring of elation. "This means a lot, it's a new beginning for Pakistan cricket, especially with this young side," he said.
By the time the matches against England came round he was rhapsodising lyrically. On the first morning at Edgbaston, scene of the second Test, he was asked again about his team since they had been crushed in the first match of the series.
He had become poetic by now and when he surveyed the ground his hand swept across the building site that Edgbaston then was. He said that, like his team, it was in the throes of rebuilding but that one day his team, like this great stadium, would be magnificent again. What a statesman, what a leader he seemed then.
The subsequent fall from grace, not long in coming, was compounded by this. Maybe 'twas ever thus. The more disappointed you feel in somebody once held in regard, say a Prime Minister who took a nation to war, the greater the opprobrium it is tempting to heap.
Butt had charisma and approachability, no doubt about it. He first came to England's attention in late 2005 when he played a key role in Pakistan's improbable victory in Multan, England's first Test after their great Ashes triumph of the summer before.
He made 74 and 122, being bizarrely caught in the first innings after his edged drive hit Marcus Trescothick on his cap at slip and rebounded to Geraint Jones. The previous winter he had impressed no less a personage than Adam Gilchrist, who stood behind him for long enough as Australia's wicketkeeper when Butt made a hundred in Sydney.
Butter would not have melted in his mouth then as he discussed opportunities in and out of the subcontinent. He was 23 and talked of the swift rise then of Kevin Pietersen in England and Michael Clarke in Australia: "They have been brought up in a different environment with different facilities and back-up to support them. Their options are vast while in the subcontinent it is different." It is possible now to wonder precisely to what he was referring.
Why does Manuel Pellegrini keep picking Martin Demichelis for Manchester City?
England 29 Wales 18 player ratings: Who was the star man at Twickenham?
David Meyler, Samuel Eto'o and the best, most controversial and bizarre goal celebrations
Bayern Munich v Arsenal: 10 reasons for Arsenal to be optimistic of Champions League progress
Bayern Munich v Arsenal: Arsene Wenger pleads for 'fair chance' from referee as Arsenal look to turn around Champions League deficit
- 1 Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
- 2 Family forced to flee home after discovering 'terrifying' nest of spiders in bananas
- 3 First Kiss: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 5 Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home