at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Karachi – A contrite Salman Butt apologised to the Pakistan nation on Friday and blamed himself for not alerting authorities earlier on his return home from England after serving seven months in jail for spot-fixing.
Maintaining his innocence, the former Pakistan Test captain was originally sentenced to 30 months in jail for his role in the 'cash for no-balls' scandal on the tour of England in 2010 but was deported upon release and is vowing to clear his name.
The 27-year-old was one of three Pakistan players embroiled in the scandal, along with Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, and all three were handed minimum five-year playing bans by the International Cricket Council as well as various jail terms.
Butt arrived in Pakistan early on Friday and the former opening batsman told reporters at Lahore airport that he hoped to resurrect his playing career and regretted his involvement with British agent Mazhar Majeed, which led to his arrest.
“My biggest mistake was not to report the advances made to me by my British agent. But he was a friend as well and I hoped he would realise his mistake,” Butt said.
“I hoped he (Mazhar) would back off in the two-to-three-month period when he made the offers. That was my mistake and I should have told the authorities immediately but I have paid a big price for it and served time behind bars.
“I also apologise to the people of Pakistan, all the cricketers, those who support us and make us stars, I apologise – but for failure to report,” added Butt, who also said he had apologised to the ICC.
While Majeed remains behind bars, pacemen Asif (29) and Amir (20) have already been released from detention with the latter having returned home and started a rehabilitation programme under the supervision of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Butt insisted he had never indulged in any form of match-fixing throughout his career and would decide his future course of action soon after consulting his legal team.
“I have never accepted any offer and nothing ever practically happened in a match linked to any offer to do spot-fixing and I also never asked anyone else to do this,” he added.
“I want to return as a better and good person, a good cricketer and a good Pakistani.”
Butt's father Zulfiqar said the family were relieved to see his son back in Pakistan.
“It has been a huge ordeal for us since 2010 and my son has faced everything bravely. All we want him to do now is take a rest and then fight to get this stigma removed,” he said. – Reuters