Watching Pakistan in the field this test was always going to be interesting. With Butt as the new sheriff in town.
Captain’s should never be judged on one game, but let me do it anyway, Butt’s captaincy varied from the inspired, the forgetful and the shambolic.
Like most captains he was dependent on his bowlers, who were dependent on the weather.
But his captaincy during the Smith innings fell apart.
The field was set without common sense getting a say. Everyone seemed to want to chat to Butt, who seemed more interested in the conversations than stopping Smith from getting a single. Smith’s favorite hitting areas went unprotected. And even when the fielders were out protecting the boundaries at the right time, they seemed to be set haphazardly and without too much thought.
Some of this would have been because this was his first test. I mean he did the two important things in this test; he lost the toss and won the test. Everything else is just speculation and bullshit.
I like speculation and bullshit, though.
After the test was Butt’s press conference. And this is where he impressed me.
Australia’s press conferences are tightly regulated affairs. The player comes in, and so does the Australian press officer, who then conducts the events in a slightly unintentionally comical conducting way. It does mean they generally run smoothly, but there isn’t the rush that you get from the Pakistan press conferences.
The PCB send no representative out at all. The players or coaches are left alone to fend for themselves.
Obviously this is why Afridi’s press conference was so much fun, but it has its downside as well.
Umar Gul did a press conference where he got some of his words mixed up, as he had no help with translation.
Butt (who spoke perfect English, or at least as good as Ricky Ponting) didn’t try to entertain, understood all the questions, and spoke about captaincy in a very intelligent way.
Someone asked about all the advice he was getting from his teammates, and he said it was good they were all interested in the game and that he wanted to keep that.
When asked about the Umar Amin decision, he didn’t run to claim credit, he just said that he plays with him domestically and Amin is known as a golden arm.
He talked about giving players confidence and telling his players to back their natural instincts.
When asked three questions that were more or less the same, he answered all of them without getting pissy.
It was a proper press performance. It didn’t feel like a first time showing.
The man can speak, and when talking about captaincy he said the right things.
I’d say he wowed the press pool.
So here is the thing, sure he was a bit sporadic in the field, but if his press conference is anything to go by, he might just be the perfect man to lead this side into the future. The future for Pakistan generally only means 7 minutes, but he is the man for all of those 7 minutes.
Now all he has to do is keep Shoaib ‘Judas’ Malik on side, and Pakistan could have a real test captain, for a while.
You can also read my thoughts on the last day.