|Teams Played||Pakistan, Lahore, Lahore Blues, Lahore Eagles, Lahore Whites, Lahore Lions, Lahore Shalimar, National Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan A, PCB Blues, Pakistan Inv XI, Punjab Stallions, Punjab Pakistan, Sindh, Water and Power Development Authority, Kolkata Knight Riders, Pakistan Under-19, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mohammedan Sporting Club, Lahore Qalandars, Central Punjab, Falcon Hunters|
Faced with the task of being the legendary Saeed Anwar’s replacement, in his initial phase itself, Salman Butt drew comparisons with the silky opener. Equally gifted with wristwork, early testament of Butt's talent was witnessed by his inclusion in the Pakistani U-19 World Cup squad when he was just 16-years old.
Impressive performances with domestic team Lahore Whites and the Pakistan-A side saw an 18-year old Butt handed his international Test debut against a touring Bangladesh team in the autumn of 2003, in which he failed to impress. It went worse on his ODI debut against West Indies a year later when he was dismissed for a duck. However, as the year progressed, so did Butt’s displays with a half-century at home to Sri Lanka and a first ODI century against India in Kolkata.
He was recalled to the Test team as Pakistan toured Australia in 2004. Salman faltered in the first test at Perth but a formidable 70-run inning in Melbourne showed some spark. Yet only 20, he followed that maiden Test half-century with a maiden Test ton in Sydney. The signs of the hidden talent that was about to burst onto the scene were emerging.
His second Test century came in Multan against England, on the back of a 74 in the first innings. This was the first time that Butt crossed the half-century mark in both innings of a Test match. After that there was a huge dip in form for Butt as It took him 4 years to record another Test century. He remained a regular in the ODI side though, in spite of scoring equivalent numbers of fifties and ducks at one point. Poor Test form (owing to a susceptible defense) saw him dropped in place of Khurram Manzoor in Pakistan’s solitary Test series in 2008 against Sri Lanka. He returned to the Test squad in 2009, to tour Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Impressive Test performances in England (as a neutral venue) against the Aussies led to Butt replacing the retiring Shahid Afridi as captain in 2010. He led Pakistan to a victory in his first test as captain, helping them level the 3-match series.
After that Test series though, in August 2010, a dark period came in Salman's career as he was involved in a spot-fixing scandal along with teammates Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif. It was a sting operation where undercover reporters paid an agent loosely affiliated with several players on Pakistan's squad a bribe in return for detailed information on when no-balls would be bowled. Butt constantly tried to prove his innocence and state that he was not guilty of any wrong-doing. He was first suspended indefinitely but after the final hearing was completed, it was announced that Butt was banned from the sport of cricket for 10 years, 5 of which would be suspended should he not commit any further offences and participate in a Pakistani Cricket Board anti-corruption program. This was a huge blow not just for Salman Butt and his other two teammates, but also for Pakistani Cricket as they lost 3 of their key men.
After the completion of his 5-year suspension, Salman Butt returned to the domestic cricket scene as the PCB allowed him to play in the National One Day Cup. He had a scintillating tournament, scoring 536 runs in 7 matches at an average of 107. He kept on playing in the domestic tournaments like the 2018 Pakistan Cup, the 2018-19 Qaid-e-Azam One Day Cup, where he was also the leading run-scorer with 559 runs in 10 matches.
Salman Butt's career has been a fledgeling and eventful one. If not for the spot-fixing scandal, he could have proved to be one of the finest Pakistani batters of this generation and ushered them into a new era following the retirements of former greats like Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, and many more. Sadly. the fairy tale for him was not to be.