Salman the sportsman? Am I missing something?

Alec Swann Columnist

By , Alec Swann is a Roar Expert

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    Picture the scene. After four days of cut and thrust in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the outcome of the keenly-fought contest between WAPDA and Peshawar boils down to one beautifully delicate equation: four runs to win, one wicket remaining.

    A knife-edge finish if ever there was one, made all the tastier by the batsman on strike, WAPDA’s Mohammad Saad, being unbeaten on 111 and there being one delivery left in the over.

    To take the plunge and go for the ropes, ending the match in one fell swoop? Or attempt to pinch a single, defying the close-in fielders and give yourself potentially six deliveries to decide which way to place your stake?

    And as for the bowler, Peshawar’s Taj Wali; do you try the time-honoured tactic of the bouncer to keep the specialist batsman on strike?

    Or back your ability to take the final wicket by aiming for the stumps and putting the onus on the opponent to force the play. Decisions, decisions.

    Well, none of the above actually came to pass.

    This scenario didn’t get as far as the centurion rolling the dice and possibly crowning an outstanding performance with the added kudos of becoming the matchwinner. There was no bouncer or attempted yorker as the bowler in question sought to settle the matter in decisive fashion.

    There was, however, the number 11 Mohammad Irfan, wandering out of his crease and the bowler, in a decisive manner of sorts if that is the best way to describe it, running him out backing up, or ‘Mankading’ him if you prefer,

    High drama ended by the lowest of blows or a lapse in concentration effectively and ruthlessly punished?

    According to the captain of the defeated side, it was the former: “We had a great game, fully competitive throughout four days, which saw both teams’ fortunes fluctuate. And suddenly this mankading spoiled it. Sportsman spirit should have been the top priority but the game didn’t end in a proper way. What’s the point of this law when the opponent team despite winning apologises to us?”

    Now, I would expect the side on the receiving end to express feelings of anger or disappointment as to come so close and have it snatched away so brazenly is hardly going to encourage a shrug of the shoulders.

    And, even if you subscribe to the view that the fielding side did nothing wrong, and according to the laws of the game they didn’t, it would take a cold heart not to have a trace of sympathy for the vanquished.

    But those with a sense of humour may well have found comedy gold in the identity of the captain extolling the virtues of sportsmanship.

    Salman Butt is renowned for a few things, actually just the one come to think of it, but the understanding of irony is definitely not on the list.

    Salman Butt

    (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

    The man who, in 2010 and as captain of his country, decided that corruption was the road down which to travel by engaging in spot-fixing and took money in exchange for information on when no-balls would be bowled, having the gall to condemn the sportsmanship of an opponent?

    Laugh I most certainly did and apologies for those on the bus who were shocked out of their morning slumber by my unintentionally loud guffawing.

    Here is a man who shouldn’t have been allowed to play cricket again let alone asked for his opinions on it but I doubt whether his brass neck would allow him to understand the ludicrousness of his statement.

    I thought David Warner’s ‘Ashes is war’ (it’s not but I can see what he was trying to get at) comments were going to triumph in the ‘who can say the daftest thing this week’ competition, but Butt’s efforts put them well and truly in their place. Leave this to the professionals.

    Sportsmanship does indeed have its place, and even in the most pressurised situations, but it really doesn’t need a convicted fraudster in its corner.

    If Butt can achieve anything, maybe educating those a bit younger on the perils of illicit activity would be a more suitable pastime than unashamedly preaching about the very thing he was happy to trample all over.

    Either that or stand-up comedy.

    Alec Swann
    Alec Swann

    Alec Swann is a former Northants and Lancashire opener turned cricket writer. Outside of the joys of a Test match, Newcastle United and golf generally occupy his other sporting interests with a soft spot for the Newcastle Knights.