The curious case of Umar Akmal

Discussion in 'Cricket Talk' started by chandtara, Jan 31, 2018.

Users Who Have Read This Thread (Total: 0)

  1. chandtara

    chandtara Mr Cricistan

    Jun 18, 2011
    What makes an enduringly great batsman is a puzzle that may leave the very best of cricket brains struggling for answers. Even experts as masterly as Sir Don Bradman and as gifted as the great Garfield Sobers, failed to provide soul convincing formulas.

    At first, I wondered that a batsman, armed with a strong faultless technique, that not only guards his wicket but also persistently smacks the red round leather, punishingly teasing through the infield, is by far the only ingredient any great batsman must possess. But that’s just basic the principles of batting. You may be endowed with all the jaw dropping strokes in the book; you may have wrists that display extreme elasticity and you may have eyes like a hawk, but if you are stripped of a judicious nervous system and that insatiable appetite for consistent run making, then perhaps you’d end up making a bad exhibition of your batting talent.

    Umar Akmal springs to my mind yet again. I have written about him in the past on a number of platforms, and for some odd reason, have chosen to dedicate my writing to him once more. My first impression of him was quite obvious: a young boy, sunny and cheery at times, touched with a stroke of genius, and one who was unquestionably filled to the brim with raw batting talent. I vividly recount falling prey to one of young Akmal’s earlier stunts on a cricket pitch.

    It almost felt like a military coup, when his bat — which was heavy for a player his size, heaved like a scimitar and took us average Ravian boys to the cleaners. It was some time back in the year 2003 when I had the privilege of captaining an acceptably competitive Government College Cricket Team.

    It was in one of our routine weekend games when I almost came close to losing that privilege, suffering at the hands of a young Akmal, whose size at the time suggested that he wasn’t even in the flush of his adolescence.

    He batted with the imposing air of someone who had at least faced a full over in test cricket: nimble on his feet, he had an answer to every little deviation a cricket ball has to offer, milking runs all-round the park and at a rate of knots notched up a breathtaking half century. We all came out absolutely flabbergasted, with our shoulders down and our cheeks pink from the humiliation. But we knew, with as much certainty as possible, that Pakistan has found another supremely gifted stroke player, almost in the same league as Inzamam or Yousuf.

    Few years down the road, and on the strength of a few reputation destroying innings he maneuvered in the national Under-19s, Akmal deservingly barged into the Pakistani senior eleven. The transition to the senior side hardly seemed like a new experience for him, as he would take similar liberties with bowlers at the highest level, stroking away with a touch of Caribbean flamboyance, mostly flippant and occasionally courteous.

    He was quick to hit his straps, as he clubbed a brilliant 129 off just 160 deliveries in his test debut against a hostile New Zealand bowling line up. The century in the first innings was followed by a fifty in the second, and a string of other noteworthy batting scores in the second and the third test, finishing off the series as the highest run getter with an average of 57.14. Looking at the ease with which Akmal decimated decent seam bowling, Martin Crowe was quick to share his prophecy: ‘You are looking at the next great Pakistani batsman.’

    The prophecy certainly held true for a few seasons, as by late 2011, Akmal had become the mainstay of an otherwise wobbly middle order, particularly in the shorter formats of the game. And then, bit by bit, when everything in the garden was lovely, Akmal’s lucky stars began to wane once his bat was no longer connecting with the leather like it used to. Was the Umar Akmal phenomenon that we formerly witnessed nothing but beginners luck?

    Was the great Martin Crowe totally out of his depth with his forecasts? Were all those masterly drives that Akmal muscled through the covers, or those deft glances of his hips, or those open eyed nudges kissed down to the third man, a lucky fluke? Was cricket genuinely his first love? I certainly do not have a clue. Perhaps Akmal was temperamentally flawed. Perhaps raw talent alone does not convert into dependable sportsmanship. Perhaps, he was never the class act we all thought him to be. Sadly, whether we blame Akmal’s failure on his own reluctance to mature and up his game or on the cricket board’s mishandling of the boy’s wayward career; it is certainly painful to watch a potentially useful cricketing talent fall on stony ground.

    The writer is a British Pakistani writer and a Cambridge Alumnus. His first book Let There Be Justice: The Political Journey of Imran Khan was published in England last year. He can be reached at
  2. MR__KHAN__JI

    MR__KHAN__JI Talented

    Sep 5, 2010
    What a waste....

    He was supposed to be our next Inzi.

    Sent from my SM-N915A using Tapatalk
  3. chandtara

    chandtara Mr Cricistan

    Jun 18, 2011
    Watching him in this PSL has been no different.

    Lahore promoted him as opener today and guess what...another failure. Any hope left for this guy?
  4. Mohammed Bilal

    Mohammed Bilal Smooth Operator

    Jul 17, 2017
    Need to move on from Akmal.

    Thought he had changed.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if he goes unselected next year in the PSL.
  5. Patriot

    Patriot Sultan of Swing

    Oct 8, 2014
    he shouldn't give up like his fans
  6. Dare2Dream

    Dare2Dream Talented

    May 4, 2010
    Need to continue to open with him, he has moved around too much. Obviously has the skill but not the the temperament to be what he was propped up to be.
  7. ComradeVenom

    ComradeVenom Tracer Bullet

    Jul 24, 2012
    Its a huge waste of talent. Quite a shame actually because for a while he seemed like the only modern batsman Pakistan possessed.
  8. Energy

    Energy Whispering Death

    Apr 22, 2012
    Can't thank Mickey enough for kicking him back to Pakistan before the CT and ensuring that this beemari doesn't spread further into the national team.
  9. chandtara

    chandtara Mr Cricistan

    Jun 18, 2011
    Imran Khan may become the next PM, but Umar Akmal will never learn from his mistakes


    Akmal’s contribution in both batting and bowling for the Qalandars thus far in 2018 comes down to an average of around 11 runs per game. PHOTO: PAKISTAN SUPER LEAGUE

    Imran Khan could become the next prime minister of Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif could end corruption once and for all. Donald Trump could end up falling in love with Pakistan. I can expect any of these situations to become a possibility in this world, but if there is one thing that comes close to being impossible, it has to be Umar Akmal learning from his own mistakes.

    The Lahore Qalandars are known for their bravery, amongst other things. Sometimes, however, they take a step too far as they try to be unique and courageous, and leaving their middle order in the hands of Akmal is a risk that even the biggest of daredevils would not take. Bravo to the Qalandars for trying their luck with Akmal against all odds, but in all honesty, spending that money on the lottery would still have been a smarter investment.

    Akmal’s contribution in both his batting and bowling performances for the Qalandars thus far in 2018, comes down to 31, one, six, four and 15 for the past five matches – an abysmal score which gives him an average of around 11 runs per game. Before I elaborate, let’s not forget Akmal is Lahore’s platinum player, with a value of up to $200,000. If I were in Fawad Rana’s shoes, I’d take a shoe off and smack myself in the head to try and bring back my senses before picking players in the next draft. Each of those 11 runs is coming at an exponential cost to the Qalandars.

    The third edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) proves that the Qalandars like setting up a trap for themselves. The moment they left their middle order at the helm of Akmal was the moment they stabbed themselves in the foot, for Akmal has mastered only one art in his entire career, and that is the art of being consistently inconsistent.

    When Akmal first stepped onto the international stage of cricket, he stole the show with a blistering 100 against Sri Lanka. I also remember watching him play a T20 against Australia wearing a glowing green colour on his lips and smashing the ball in every side of the park. It was unusual to see a Pakistani batsman take on the Australian bowlers in such a daunting fashion. Given his performances, the entire nation thought success was waiting at Akmal’s doorsteps; however, success does not come to those who don’t learn to value it.

    Slowly but surely, I watched an exceptionally talented young Akmal transform from a future star into a predictable failure. He had all the shots in the book, as if God had personally listened to all his requests, but one factor was missing. This factor may be the only barrier keeping him one step away from success in his entire career – the ability to understand the game and adapt his approach to it accordingly.

    Playing according to the game situation is completely foreign to Akmal, as he likes to follow his own set of rules. If the team needs him at the crease, he will make sure to somehow slog his way out.

    However, cricket is ultimately a mind game. Sure enough, you do need the skills to execute your plans, but then again, knowing how to approach the game is critical to getting the job done. Virat Kohli is a perfect example of a player who has mastered the ability to play according to the situation of the game. Akmal, on the other hand, is yet to learn what the game situation demands from him.

    If throwing your wicket isn’t enough to hurt your team, then taking the team’s only Decision Review System (DRS) certainly is. Someone needs to tell Akmal that the review system is for the entire team, and not a personal decision. I do understand Akmal’s desperation to opt for the review each time he can get his hands on it though, since it does seem like he needs a second shot at everything in life.

    Life has been gracious to Akmal, with plenty of opportunities presented to him over the years. However, time and again he has shown that not only does he refuse to learn from his mistakes, he also has an uncanny ability to make headlines for all the wrong reasons, even when he is off the field.

    One can only hope that Akmal gets his head back in the game, and uses his cousin Babar Azam as a role model, because runs scored off the bat speak louder than any press conference a cricketer can hold. Akmal has been gifted with far too many shots; it’s about time he learns to value them. He needs to be playing big innings to get his team home and justify the talent he has been gifted with; for he is gifted with talent, he just has not figured out what to do with it.

    I say this with pain, but until Akmal matures as a batsman, the Qalandars need to move forward by replacing him and bringing some stability to the middle order. Akmal is not the only factor holding the Qalandars back, but given their appalling performance this season, removing him will be the first step on the road to recovery.
  10. godzilla

    godzilla Talented

    May 12, 2016
    'curious case' - such a crappy, weak headline. theres nothing curious about it at all, he is rubbish. I dont understand all the talk fo talent. talent = runs. ukmal = no runs. therefore ukmal = no talent. no one won games on potential.

    a few years ago, just like selfie, he was preening himself and strutting around thinking he was the bees knees. unlike their indian counterparts, theres no culture of professionalism the pcb and their management have been able to impart upon the younger guys.

    there shouldn't even be a conversation about him until he starts scoring big and consistently domestically, the best we can do is hope that shadab etc dont fall the same way.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  11. Express Pace

    Express Pace Cornered Tiger

    May 11, 2012
    Not all potential is fulfilled. He’ll just go down as one of those. Time to move on from him.
  12. Del

    Del Tracer Bullet

    Dec 21, 2016
    Like as I said in another thread, its a myth that this chucklehead is "Talent".

    Does talent mean charging down the wicket to a fast bowler and hitting him over mid wicket, mid on or straight over his head for a 6? Because if that's what it means, Afridi is much better player than Umar Akmal. And by the same note, Afridi won many game compare to this buffoon in 90's for Pakistan, so does it make him more talented? I guess there is no need to derail this thread and explain how "talunted" Afridi is, its well documented and we all know.

    On contrary, if talent means identifying your weaknesses, growing over them and establishing a niche for yourself in the team, trying to play to your strengths and not having mental lapses then surely Umar is far away from talent. Yes Umar was very talented when he hit Shane Bond for sixes 8 years ago, but now he has been ruined by team management, Misbah, Waqar or even some believe by himself.

    What was there to ruin? Waqar may not be the most equipped coach around, but he was spot on when he said that "Umar is his own worst enemy. He doesn't want to work hard, he doesn't want to put in the effort, he doesn't want to get fit, and it's embarrassing.

    Talented players don't ride much on their luck, but most this Umar's innings, wherein he made runs, he gives AT LEAST ONE CHANCE before he even scores big.

    Is that talent?

    That just means he banks on his ability to hit big and hit himself out of trouble and score a breezy 30 and 40 and then depart with a pained expression.

    In that regards Afridi is not much different if not better because at least Afridi can bowl.

    Umar is the worst example of talent we believe in Pakistan.

    The dude is NOT talented at all.

    Sure he can hit big, but so can Sohail Tanveer. Now you tell me is Sohail Tanveer Talented?

    It's been 3 years when he was shown the door from the national team after the world cup. Any good player would take this time to improve himself and get back into the team. The sad thing is we don't even have competition in batting as our batting standards are even worse than Bangladesh. All these years I was hoping against the hope that he would learn and improve his batting and make a comeback, but certainly there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and we should better look towards others.
  13. chandtara

    chandtara Mr Cricistan

    Jun 18, 2011
    Axed Akmal's Lahore Qalandars future in doubt

    Umar Akmal's future with Lahore Qalandars is increasingly uncertain after a troubled campaign for the team and batsman. Six losses in nine games have left Lahore firmly rooted to the bottom of the table and Akmal's poor form - and familiar questions about his attitude - have seen left him out of the squad. ESPNcricinfo understands that he has not even been travelling to the stadium with the side anymore. Regardless, as per the contract he has with the franchise, he will take home USD 160,000 at the end of the season.

    That represents some fall for a player who lit up the league in its inaugural season, finishing as top scorer in 2016, making 335 runs at 83.75. He was less successful last season but was retained by Lahore and was always thought to be an important part of the side.

    But after making just 57 runs in five games in the ongoing season he was dropped, the trouble beginning with a bizarre run-out during the group stage match against Peshawar Zalmi. Since his axing, he has been attending training sessions at the ICC academy.

    The decision to drop Akmal, ESPNCricinfo understands, was a unanimous one, with team owners, managers, coaching staff and captain all on board. It is also understood that an upset Akmal has responded by sending angry messages to the team owners complaining about the captain Brendon McCullum talking to the media about him.

    "Umar is a complicated guy and we all know he has well-documented troubles throughout his career," McCullum told ESPNcricinfo. "But he is incredibly talented and he has done special things in his career and if his career has to finish now, I think it's fair to say that he has underachieved.

    "I think it's a hard message and sometimes you need that, because as a cricketer you need to be honest with yourself and you need those who are prepared to be honest with you."

    This is not the first time Akmal has had a fallout with his team - it follows the pattern of his ouster from the Pakistan side. Last year his career took a major hit after the PCB had omitted him from the list of 35 centrally contracted players. He was the most notable omission, with his fitness having been a major concern.

    He was then involved in a very public spat with national head coach Mickey Arthur, which subsequently led to the PCB slapping a three-game ban on him during domestic season and a fine of PKR 1 million. Besides that, the PCB also revoked all No-Objection Certificates issued to him for participation in overseas tournaments for two months, forcing him to miss the Bangladesh Premier League.

    Having dropped Akmal, Lahore brought in overseas player Anton Devcich, who smacked a 42-ball 62, albeit in a losing cause, during the match against Islamabad United.

    "We did not do it purely based on his performance," said Aaqib Javed, Lahore's head coach. "As a senior player there is a responsibility but when you are not able to deliver in five games then, as a team, you start thinking of trying something new before it is too late.

    "We still had chance and we wanted to try our second options. Then we played our sixth match only to score our highest total in the tournament. We then went on to win our next three games. So now getting him back at this stage is difficult because the youngsters you trusted have delivered, it's unfair if they don't get more chances.

    Aaqib also said that it was the management's concern to look after and support an out-of-form senior player.

    "We haven't deserted him but we have allowed him to take a back seat and relax and think," he said. "He has a full career ahead of him and it's not the end of the road. He is a good player, and everyone has their ups and downs, but all you need is to show character and push yourself. He can do it and we expect him to do it."

Share This Page