Butt favourite to become Pakistan`s Test captain

Karachi: Left-handed opener Salman Butt has emerged as the favourite to take over as Pakistan`s new Test captain for England tour where the team will play back-to-back series against Australia and the hosts from July to September.

Sources said that Butt was always on the Pakistan Cricket Board`s (PCB) radar for the captaincy assignment and after a prolific showing in the recently-concluded World Twenty20 championship in England, the Lahore-based player has improved his chances of becoming the Pakistan captain.

Pakistan is currently short of options as far as the captaincy is concerned as the PCB has banned or fined several former skippers in the aftermath of a disastrous tour of Australia that ended early this year.

The PCB imposed indefinite bans on former captains Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan besides banning Shoaib Malik, another ex-skipper, for one year.

Later, the PCB opted for Shahid Afridi, the flamboyant allrounder, to lead Pakistan in the World Twenty20. Afridi is likely to be retained as Pakistan`s captain for next month`s Asia Cup and later in the limited-overs matches against Australia and England this summer but since he has decided against playing Test cricket, the PCB needs to appoint a new captain for the longest version of the game.

Butt, 25, was once groomed to become Pakistan`s long-term skipper and was even appointed as vice-captain to Shoaib Malik after the national cricket authorities started to `rebuild` the team following a disastrous first-round exit from the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbeans.

However, Butt failed to give consistent performances after which the PCB decided against retaining him as vice-captain.