The year 2018 has been a contrast in fortunes for India and Pakistan. Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team are on the cusp of securing a historic series win in Australia following their 137-run win in the Melbourne Test while Pakistan lost a series against New Zealand at ‘home’ for the first time since 1969. Sarfraz Ahmed’s side ended the year on a low with a thrashing at Centurion against South Africa. Looking at the struggles of the Pakistan cricket team, former skipper Salman Butt has said Pakistan needed to create a domestic structure on the lines of India. Butt said Kohli’s statement following the Melbourne win was a lesson for Pakistan as well.
“When India won the recent Test against Australia, Virat Kohli credited India's domestic cricket for the success in bowling and batting. India is doing well because their players are only allowed to play in the IPL T20 cricket and have to play Ranji Trophy unlike us where most players tend to avoid four-day domestic cricket. Most of them (Pakistani players) have not even played 50 first class games. Not many of them have spent time in domestic four-day cricket. Worse they have played all their cricket mostly in UAE conditions,” said Butt who has been banned from the game since he was implicated in the spot-fixing scandal of 2010 during the Lord’s Test against England.
Following the win in Melbourne, Kohli credited India’s domestic structure for their success in Australia. “Nobody is trying to outdo another guy, it's all about what the team wants and what the kind of breakthroughs team wants. That's why they are so special. Our first-class cricket structure is amazing. The tough conditions with the new ball make bowlers hard,” Kohli had said at that time.
Afridi blocked my return
Butt, who was served a seven-year ban, two years suspended for the spot-fixing scandal in 2010 made a return to domestic cricket in 2015 and was in contention to be picked in the side for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Pakistan’s then-coach, Waqar Younis, had asked him whether he was mentally ready but Shahid Afridi, who was captain of the team at that time, apparently did not favour his return.
“I was called to the NCA by head coach, Waqar Younis and batting coach, Grant Flower and they took me to the nets and checked my fitness. Waqar bhai asked me if I was mentally ready to play for Pakistan again and I said yes very much. I don't know what prompted him to do this but no I didn't go to him or speak about it. I didn't feel it was right. But what I know is that Waqar and Flower told me I was playing the World Cup and then Afridi resisted,” Butt told a Pakistan news channel.