Banishing Umar Akmal is not the solution

Published: January 13, 2013

It’s the flair that got him in the side but, by the looks of things, it has taken him out of the side as well. PHOTO: AFP

Younus Khan loves fishing — be it in the Arabian Sea or outside the off-stump. Misbahul Haq loves defending — in the middle or behind the mic.

Those things will not change. And by the looks of things, neither will Umar Akmal’s lack of patience, the instinctive strokeplay and his determination to be a star, a performer, the boy all cricket-loving mothers will love to cook for.

Umar has this air of carelessness about him which makes him what he is. He probably doesn’t think of the consequences and that brings about his downfall. At 17, he was chased around the dressing room after pouring water over a teammate. Five years later, he’s still being chased around, now with an axe, with people calling for his banishment from the horizon altogether.

Leave him to do what he wants

In Pakistan, parents try and force their young ones to use their right hands to write, eat and greet (even if the kid is left-handed by birth). Sometimes it works. More often though, they give up and let nature be. Umar should be free to act his trade, to play his shots and score the amount of runs he wants to the way he wants to. At this age, despite having played 129 matches for Pakistan, taking the team past the finish line should not be his responsibility. It’s a team game, they say, and while the onus lies with all 11, the other 10 have a certain level of responsibility too.

The gelled hair, the coloured lip-balm (which is nowhere to be seen now), the earphones and the mischief with other young members of the team show Umar is enjoying himself and his cricket. The fame, the following and the recognition has given way to defiance and the attitude of a superstar – one who would easily take on dozens of gangsters in a Pakistani film and be the last man standing with minor grazes. He respects his seniors – on the surface at least – but his seniors want him to respect the bowler too, and to let his head do the talking, not the bat.

Not for the sake of comparison, but Sachin Tendulkar was left to drive, flick and pull at will early in his career. The seniors took care of the results, Tendulkar took care of his passion and determination – the records came along the way. Waqar Younis was told to bowl fast. Shahid Afridi was told to deposit the ball into the stands (in that Nairobi innings, at least). The understanding and the adjustment came later (in most of the afore-mentioned cases), after they had made their mark being raw and inexperienced. Even Mohammad Hafeez, prior to his resurrection on the tour of England in 2010, averaged under 19 in ODIs, scoring just 874 runs in four years. In the last 30 months, Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain has scored 2,018, including four centuries. Time, patience and persistence teach a lot of things.

Umar’s international career, in its fourth year, has many highlights already — the infamous back problem after the Sydney humiliation, the mature head against West Indies in Johannesburg 2009, that 64 against Australia in Birmingham in 2010 and the camera zooming in on him on the Dubai dressing room stairs after he was dismissed for 91, the discontent and frustration visible. But with Misbah, Younus, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal around him, Umar needs to be left in his own world (on the pitch). Time will take care of the attitude, seriousness and understanding the responsibility of wearing the green cap.

What’s important is his hunger to play cricket, with passion and self-assurance his driving force. He’s embarrassed to be the 12th man (because he knows he has what it takes to be in the playing-XI), wary of his reputation and ego. He’s also aware that, going forward, being omitted is not a good sign for a player.

At times, he’s like an arrow released with much power, unerring in direction, tearing through the wind and all that lies between him and his aim. On other occasions, he’s just a feather in the air.

Luckily for him, Misbah and Hafeez are at the helm, the same partnership he plays with at his club SNGPL. Kamran is also there for a slap on the wrist – perhaps more – and his talent has taken him up to the door of selection. He has a whole bunch of keys with which he can unlock that door, walk through and shut it firmly behind him.

But Umar, with too much happening inside his head, wants to throw away the bunch and pull that door right off its hinges.

The writer is Sports Editor of The Express Tribune

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • John the Baptist
    Jan 13, 2013 - 2:08AM

    It is not flare, it is fear that he exhibits! After playing so many games at all three levels, he still has the look of a deer caught in headlights when he gets to the crease. All fluff, no substance!

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  • Positive Pakistani
    Jan 13, 2013 - 2:43AM

    I feel sick of your views……man…..give it a chance…………that’s all I want to say!……stay patient….not everything the authorities do is irrelevant……if you were such a supporter of umar akmal where were you when people were talking about him as being a failure but he still was part of the squad….why didn’t you write any of this kind of sh*t in favor of him……..why do the people like you always have to do the derailing afterwards…..

    you know what….I (and most of the other people of Pakistan….Saner ones) have appreciated this move…..so we don’t care what you say……Umar needed a lessen he got one….lets see what can he do to come back…and cement his place…..

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  • mack D
    Jan 13, 2013 - 2:55AM

    Cant rely on a youngster to finsh of the game , keep dropping him does not make his confendence any better Leave him to his natural game and he will become one of the best

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  • Ali
    Jan 13, 2013 - 2:56AM

    Excellent article…he needs to be left on his own and definitely time will take its toll on him

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  • Ivehadit
    Jan 13, 2013 - 7:29AM

    PCB loves the power it has over its stars. One day it’s banishing them from playing in Australia, another day in B’desh. The next day it’s bestowing awards on them. With Omar Akmal, it’s destroying a natural talent. Give the young man a break. He’s exuberant, but talented. Nurture his talent, don’t break his spirit.

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  • UMSyed
    Jan 13, 2013 - 9:19AM

    Why only him? Why not give chance to some other talented player? It not about raising a child or sorting out some family issues. Its about selection in the National side. Many talented players are available & we are still stuck with the Akmal family despite their pathetic performance & unprofessional attitude towards the game.

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  • Jan 13, 2013 - 10:48AM

    Yes I agree, dumping him is the only solution

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  • HJ
    Jan 13, 2013 - 11:24AM

    Talent is not enough in cricket. why should he be let off just to play strokes without getting intended results. I am amazed at your understating of cricket when you say seniors should be responsible for finishing off the game. There is alot of talent on pakistani benches, if this guy cant think and act as a professional batsman he will end as Imran Nazir. Every one wants to be star but craving should be finishing off the game for the country instead of personal heroics.

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  • amjad
    Jan 13, 2013 - 11:40AM

    Very well written, balanced artical. For comparison’s sake you just note down that he fared very well before Misbah’s era .Somehow the presence of Misbah has put negative impact on his performance.Having 3 slow batsmen in the form of Misbah,Younas,Azhar Ali have put extra pressure on a young lad earlier in career.Not to forget he played some extraordinary innings.Omission at this time may be taken positive as I feel in the presence
    of Misbah his batting spot is already occupied.I have not seen anyone else being critisized that much despite poor shot selection.Why the onus lies only on him?when the batsmen 10 to 15 years senior to him are getting out to cheap shots.Don’t waste this player ,Give him some confidence,team will be profited in future.

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  • My Name is Khan
    Jan 13, 2013 - 12:14PM

    His Talent is pitching nothing on international Level, Statistics will not help him, I can be selected based on my statistics in cricket matches played in my HOME ROOF TOP then.

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  • Ali Yasir
    Jan 13, 2013 - 12:18PM

    I don’t agree with the writer at all. Umar Akmal is another Imran Nazir in the making such players only play with emotions without any game plan whatsoever!

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  • fawad
    Jan 13, 2013 - 2:26PM

    Umar akmal needs to improve his batting style, otherwise he’ll be like afridi soon. No one recognize him as a match winner after his poor batting.

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  • Salman
    Jan 13, 2013 - 4:37PM

    He will be back in limited overs cricket but really he is not a test material. His average is going down with every passing series and with so many chances and reasonable experience now, he should have learnt to build an innings by now. Today’s cricket is at very high pace, you have to learn so many things quickly in order to survive. Umar is just not doing that and keep repeating the same mistakes. See what has happened to Afridi, his removal from the team doesn’t cost Pakistani anything in ODIs.

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  • A Khan
    Jan 13, 2013 - 6:02PM

    Tendulkar did manage to set all those personal records but his contribution to team victories, or of saving matches when in trouble, is extremely poor. Just check the records..So do we want a personal record setter or a team contributor ?

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  • antanu g
    Jan 13, 2013 - 7:07PM

    instead is a victim of unfair practices by PCB. HE deserves to be in any team. player of his calibre is being ignored in tests which has resulted in low confidence syndrome

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  • Hyper Baig
    Jan 14, 2013 - 3:59AM

    Hahahahah!!! Umar Akmal is a total loser. Not only does he let himself down but is the cause of the team’s decline as well. Omer Gul bats with more responsibilty than this guy. Even if you are a fan of Omar Akmal for some godforsaken reason, we really don’t need him anyway with Asad Shafiq coming back. Haris Sohail is waiting for his chance too. Bye bye love. Bye bye Omer Akmal

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  • AKhan
    Jan 14, 2013 - 5:02AM

    not only you misunderstand the game of cricket you really dont know how to write.. I mean comparing umar with likes of tendulkar and waqar and that without any comparable stats . Plz give us a break..Umar needs to sit out and learn from asad shafique and azhar ali.

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  • kami
    Jan 14, 2013 - 8:33AM

    Umer Akmal is wasting his own talent so he needs a long break from the national team. He is becoming a Imran Nazir/ Afridi type of a player. His shot selection is immature with no temperament and he has been playing for more than 3 years now. He needs to grow up or else we have plenty of talent who can replace him.

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  • Zaheer Ahmed
    Jan 14, 2013 - 8:56AM

    I would have dropped him from the team for good when he cited false back problem when Adnan was not selected in the XI. If he thinks that brotherhood take precedence over country then Pakistan is better off with players of lesser ability like Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq but have more commitment. Umar starts fighting his own battle when he reaches the crease and completely forgets the bigger battle. Dont forget that he was dropped from his local side in Pakistan for refusing to practice with the team last year. He needs to be taught a lesson and the sooner he learns that the better it is for him.

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  • Ali Hamza
    Jan 14, 2013 - 10:24AM

    I like the article in itself..

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  • Mirza
    Jan 14, 2013 - 10:46AM

    I agree with most of the posts that he should be booted out for good. He is behaving like Afridi. We need solid bats and not cavilers in the team. He cannot be a team player. There is no room in the team for Akmal cult.

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  • khalid
    Jan 14, 2013 - 10:47AM

    Analyst of geo super destroying the career of another talented crickter who dserve to be selected in all formates. Who else in current pakistan team has an average of 38 except Misbah.

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  • HJ
    Jan 14, 2013 - 12:10PM

    @ Khalid

    What is the point of average of 38 when you can not finish the game. Some of rightly mentioned that Umer Gul bats with more responsibility then this Recommend

  • Badshah
    Jan 15, 2013 - 3:53PM

    Absolutely… he should be left on his own to the way he wants to play… And selectors should be left alone as well to decide to kick him out of the team for that… So stop your baseless outpouring

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  • Danny
    Jan 15, 2013 - 9:22PM

    So does that mean he should be given as many chances as were given to Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir, Taufeeq Umar, The Elahis and the list skyrockets. Time will get to him but there are also elements of being responsible, using your brain, playing for the team and learning from your mistakes. I don’t agree!
    Wait and watch probably in next week or so he’ll come out in his defense “to leave him alone” again!

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  • karachiwala
    Jan 17, 2013 - 11:42AM

    I agree with your headline:
    “Banishing Umar Akmal is not the solution”
    Banishing Kamran Akmal also IS the solution

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  • Patriot
    Jan 19, 2013 - 12:21PM

    International cricket is about the three T’s: talent (which Umer has tons of), technique (which is acceptable with Umer……not great) and temperament (which Umer has none of). That for me makes him an average performer albeit with great potential. The Sachin example is not appropriate because India lost a lot of matches during his early years.

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  • Jan 19, 2013 - 2:52PM

    great performer in the domestic cricket but not on international level.remember Mansoore Akhter.G Hick,Anil Kumble.The truth is he is not a cricketer of international level.Forget him and find a new replacement.

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  • Feb 21, 2013 - 6:17PM

    the writer is totally right. i want to add that those who are cretisizing umer akmal should know thathis position in the batting order is not ideal for him.he always comes in situations when the required rate jumps up due to the slow battin of top order. the most important is that when he comes there is no batsman behind him to build partnership with him.in such situations he starts hiting and loses his wicket. pakistan should play with him at one down or two down position in front of misbah azhar and younus and then watch pikistan will lose never atleast bkoz of batting.

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