In a surprising move, Salman Butt was appointed as a consultant member to chief selector Wahab Riaz alongside Kamran Akmal and Rao Iftikhar Anjum. The appointment, announced on Friday, raised eyebrows for various reasons, setting the stage for the whirlwind of events that followed.
Less than 24 hours later, chief selector Wahab Riaz called a press conference to announce Salman Butt’s immediate withdrawal from the consultancy panel. Accusations flew, with Wahab blaming the media for attempting to besmirch the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) name, alleging preferential treatment and signalling his commitment to safeguarding the integrity of the PCB.
The selection of the advisory panel came under heavy criticism, primarily due to its provincial composition. All three appointed members, including Butt, hailed from Punjab, historically the most influential region in Pakistan cricket. This fueled allegations of favouritism, further exacerbated by Wahab’s government ministry position in the Punjab government.
Internal sources revealed fierce resistance within the PCB to Butt’s appointment, reaching the extent of an employee threatening resignation. The mounting criticism from various quarters prompted Wahab to act swiftly, withdrawing Butt’s name and promising a replacement from Karachi.
Salman Butt’s appointment stirred controversy not just for its timing but also for his history. Banned for spot-fixing in 2010, this was the first time Butt had been given a position within the PCB. The move prompted internal resistance, reflecting the reluctance to embrace a figure associated with a notorious past.
Sources within the PCB indicated significant resistance to Butt’s appointment, with at least one employee uncomfortable to the point of considering resignation. Media outlets echoed the sentiment, intensifying the pressure on Wahab and the PCB.
Wahab, responding to the criticism, pledged to announce a replacement for Butt shortly, emphasizing that the new member would hail from Karachi. This move aimed at addressing the criticism of regional bias, hinting at a broader and more diverse perspective in the decision-making process.
Wahab dropped hints that Asad Shafiq might be the likely replacement for Butt in the advisory panel. Shafiq, hailing from Karachi, would bring a different dimension to the panel, potentially easing favouritism and regional bias concerns.