NOTTINGHAM: Pakistan captain Salman Butt hopes some of the magic of Imran Khan, his cricket hero, will rub off when he leads the team in the first Test against England here on Thursday.
Butt`s captaincy debut went better than even the most fervent Pakistan supporter could have hoped with a three-wicket second Test win against Australia at Headingley last week - Pakistan`s first Test victory over the Aussies in 15 years.
However, Butt would be the first to acknowledge he has a way to go to match the captaincy achievements of Imran, the outstanding all-rounder of the 1980s, who led Pakistan to their only World Cup title in 1992.
"Imran Khan was the greatest captain of all time that Pakistan have had," Butt said at Trent Bridge here on Wednesday.
"It was the courage he showed - because when he started he had very limited resources, and he picked players who hadn`t even played first-class cricket and he made them world-beaters.
"To pick a person from nowhere, and know the ability he has will shine for him one day, is something to admire," opening batsman Butt added.
"Then the courage to put them in straightaway, and allow them to be themselves, is something not many people have.
"That is the best way for a person to do well - relax and be yourself. When you try to be something else, I don`t think it works for most people."
Butt was promoted from vice-captain after Shahid Afridi quit Test cricket following the team`s 150-run series opening loss to Australia.
Asked if he`d experienced any surprises as Pakistan captain, Butt told AFP: "There have been no surprises as yet - but maybe the way it came to me was a bit of a surprise."
Pakistan played their `home` series against Australia in England after international cricket was suspended in their own country following an armed attack on Sri Lanka`s team bus in Lahore in March last year.
"It`s a lovely place to play cricket," Butt said of England. "There are a lot of Pakistanis living over here, so the support is good.
"Of course, the number one priority would be to play in Pakistan," the 25-year-old added. "But with the unfortunate situation which is currently going on, I think England is the best option."
This Test series is England`s last before they begin the defence of the Ashes in Australia, starting in November.
It is nearly 25 years since they last won a Test series in Australia and England captain Andrew Strauss said: "We`re not necessarily where we want to be, but I think we`re making improvements.
"My first series in charge we lost to the West Indies, then beat the West Indies and won the Ashes.
"I think there`s a nice progression there - but there are areas we need to improve, no doubt about that," the opening batsman added.
BDST: 1308HRS, July 29, 2010