The curious case of Umar Akmal

March 18, 2018

The curious case of Umar Akmal

Lahore Qalandars won three consecutive matches in Pakistan Super League (PSL), against Multan Sultans, Karachi Kings and Quetta Gladiators, but it was too late as they had already crashed out of the T20 contest.

Batting collapses were the reasons for their defeats in early matches. Brendon McCullum, Anton Devcich, Cameron Delport, Chris Lynn, Fakhar Zaman and Umar Akmal failed to deliver as a team.

Qalandars lost six consecutive games before winning the last three games in which Umar was dropped from the playing squad as he had scored only 57 runs in four matches.

But when other batsmen had failed too, why was only Umar dropped? Umar is the most experienced batsman in the squad after skipper Brendon McCullum. But despite the immense experience, he failed to show maturity. He always throws his wicket away in crunch moments. The over-confidence or lack of self-belief resulted in his ouster.

Umar has the unwanted record of most ducks (24) in Twenty20 matches. Herschelle Gibbs, Tillakaratne Dilshan, and Dwayne Smith are behind him with 23 ducks.

After two national coaches, Waqar Younis and Mickey Arthur, Lahore Qalandars’ captain McCullum also criticised Umar for his inconsistent performances and called him "a complicated guy with an incredible talent".

McCullum said Umar has incredible talent but is not utilising his skills as he should.

According to media reports, the management of Lahore Qalandars is not happy with him. That’s why Umar is facing an uphill task to regain his place.

Numerous opportunities were provided to him but his inconsistency has kept him away from the national team.

In his debut Test against New Zealand at Dunedin in November 2009, when Pakistan were 85-5, Umar scored 129 runs in the first innings and 75 in the second. Pakistan lost the Test by 32 runs but a young talented middle-order batsman had been found.

Owing to some outstanding performances, people likened Umar with India’s Virat Kohli. Nine years down the road, Umar, now 28, has played only 16 Tests, and scored 1003 runs at an average of 35.82 with only one hundred and six fifties. He has played 116 One-day Internationals, scored 3044 runs with two centuries and 20 half-centuries, averaging 34.59.

Virat, now 29, made his Test debut in 2011. He has played 66 Tests in which he has scored 5554 runs, including 21 centuries and 16 fifties, averaging over 53.40.

He has played 208 ODIs, scored 9588 at an average of 58.10, including 35 hundreds and 46 fifties.

There is no match between the two. Virat has a far better temperament; he is much more polished, has better sense of responsibility. These are the reasons he is now leading the team.

Since his debut, Umar has remained in news due to disciplinary issues instead of ground performances.

Last year in August, Umar levelled serious allegations against coach Mickey Arthur. He said he went to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and met Arthur, but the head coach used abusive words for him in the presence of Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed.

"Arthur also admonished me as to who allowed me to enter the NCA. He told me that it was better for me to play club cricket instead of doing practice at the NCA," Umar said.

Arthur denied the allegations. "I didn’t stop Umar from using NCA but only stopped him from using the services of coaching staff," he said.

Umar was dropped from the Champions Trophy squad after failing two consecutive fitness tests last year.

Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq clarified: "We had set a fitness standard which isn’t really a tough one, but Umar Akmal didn’t meet the average level."

Umar was also dropped from the one-day side after the 2015 World Cup on coach Waqar Younis’s report. He recommended that Umar be made to earn his spot again in the national squad with consistent performances in domestic cricket.

In January 2016, Umar received a ban for one match for violating the dress code in a match of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. PCB match referee Anwar Khan warned Umar for wearing a promotional logo on his kit, but he did not remove the extra logo. He had been warned in two earlier matches in the Trophy but had ignored the warnings.

In November 2015, Umar was dropped from the side for the Twenty20 series against England in the UAE for allegedly misbehaving with women at a dance party.

In July 2015, the national selection committee ignored Umar for the one-day series in Sri Lanka after he failed to report for the training camp at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.

He spoke to NCA head coach Muhammad Akram and told him he was coming the next morning but he didn’t show up. According to then reports, Umar was busy playing in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20.

All these incidents show what is wrong with Umar.

The curious case of Umar Akmal