Pakistan’s disgraced cricketer Salman Butt has tendered a personal apology to his former captain Shahid Afridi when they crossed paths at the national cricket academy in Lahore.
According to eye witness accounts Butt, who was the Test captain in England in 2010 when the spot-fixing scandal broke out, on Thursday evening approached Afridi at the NCA where the Pakistan squad bound for Zimbabwe was presently training.
“Butt who is coming to the NCA to train went up to Afridi in the presence of some other players and with tears in his eyes apologised to him,” one witness said.
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“Butt told Afridi he was sorry for what had happened in England and that he should have listened to his (Afridi’s) advice. He asked the Pakistan T20 captain to forgive him for his role in the spot fixing scandal. Afridi kept quiet and then obviously embarrassed by the situation mumbled to Butt that he should focus on his cricket,” the witness said.
Butt, along with teammates Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir, was banned for five years by the ICC for the spot-fixing scandal and also served time in jail in the United Kingdom.
The five-year bans on the trio expired on September 1 and the ICC said they could return to playing cricket but the PCB has announced a reintegration and rehabilitation program for the three which they have to accomplish to qualify to play first-class cricket.
The program rules out any return for the trio to first-class cricket until February 2016.
One main requirement of the program is that the trio have to apologise to their former Pakistan teammates and try to convince them to accept them back in their fold.
Interestingly the PCB had also made it clear in its program that the trio will not go to the NCA to train when a Pakistan camp is set up there to avoid any problems but apparently that clause was ignored on Thursday as the trio were also at the NCA when the Pakistani players were training there ahead of the tour to Zimbabwe.
A source close to the players said some of the national team players were uncomfortable to see Butt, Asif and Aamir at the NCA and had conveyed this to their team management.
Both Afridi and head coach Waqar Younis had appeared as witnesses against the trio when the ICC anti-corruption tribunal held its inquiry into the spot-fixing scandal in 2011.
Butt, who has remained apologetic for his involvement in the scandal since his five-year ban ended, was made Pakistan Test captain on the 2010 tour.