South Africa January 22, 2007

Akmal earns a pardon

International cricket, you will have heard, is played in the mind

International cricket, you will have heard, is played in the mind. Harness your mental powers and you will leap from journeyman to superstar. Lose the mind games and your talent will become dust. Allrounders, though, have an advantage that allows them to fail in one area and star elsewhere. Of course, life is rarely so simple. Once one aspect of your game falls apart and your confidence is ruined, your second skill could easily collapse too. This might have been the case with Kamran Akmal but today's innings will be just the boost he needs to help him recover his form behind the stumps.

Far be it for me to criticise somebody called Kamran, but Akmal's performances had become something of an embarrassment, a vicious circle of failure. There were even calls for him to be dumped for the final Test. But such a panic reaction should now be impossible.

Akmal is a smart cricketer, with a natural feel for his glovework and his batsmanship. Bob Woolmer decribes him as 20% of the team. When that vital 20% fails, the team suffers. Distinguished ex-cricketers have rated him highly, and after England's tour of Pakistan last year he was thought to be one of the best in the world.

Since then Akmal has had a tough time, dismissed too easily when batting and finding it hard to dismiss anybody when he is keeping. The talent is undoubted, the mind has been crushed by failure. In these circumstances it is a credit to Pakistan's management that they have stuck with somebody who has obvious ability and, when body and mind are in harmony, is capable of mastering the toughest conditions.

Introducing Zulqarnain Haider for the final Test would have been folly. The next mouth-watering encounter is too pivotal for a rushed debut. What this series has shown so far is that the battle for number two in international cricket is a tough one, an arena for experience not exuberance. Now that Akmal has rediscovered his magic touch with the bat, better wicketkeeping should follow--and he has to do both, he is not good enough to be played as a batsman.

Welcome back Kamran Akmal, a young man crucial to the balance of this Pakistan side, and a condemned man who today he earned a pardon for any number of fumbled catches and sloppy stumpings.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on January 28, 2007, 16:38 GMT

    Now I m seriously began to doubt abt the cric-sense of Inzi & Co ... wat the hell they jst did in 3rd test...

    It was series finalle and Batsmen were playing as they playing a freindly club level match and plz dnt blame the pitch , they r pro test players they shd adjst themselves againts odds.

    Inzi dnt had the guts to stay on wicket for 30 mints and expect Asif to bowl for 2 hrs ?

    He is jst " laybak-n-c " kinda guy and jst dnt put everything on Bob Woolmer ... he jst can advise players but if playes still play like younas , imran , hafeez , yasir , inzi .. no cotch can fix them then !

    I think if Akmal , Imran and Sammi got enuff chances and now they shd let play domestic for 2,3 years and give chance to som gud new talent .

    Sammi was jst too much ...

  • testli5504537 on January 28, 2007, 8:29 GMT

    Kamran Akmal's Performance up for review and scrutiny:

    With just 125 runs to defend, Kamran holding on to a chance of Kaneria's sharp spin and not missing even half of a stumping chance that may be on offer on the 3rd morning - holds the key if Pakistan have to make a real contest of this series decider.

    Akmal's form as a wicket keeper has seen a constant decline and the way he threw away his wicket during the first innings puts his batting credentials into question. At best, he played a tail ender's shot and directed the ball right into the slip cordon.

    With more than half a dozen chances spilled by Kamran during the course of SA inning(s) in the just concluded 2nd test match, South Africa in fact were given to play close to a total of three innings.

    This kind of generosity can be ill afforded time and again. Isn’t it time that Pakistan rest Akmal to allow him recoup his energy and focus. As pointed out by experts, the key slot of a wicket keeper constitutes a pivotal position for any fielding side.

    Lately, top teams at this level have been vying to convert even half chances into a success story. It's been a total disappointment in the case of Kamran Akmal.

    Will he hold his ground and focus and be able to contribute positively on the 3rd morning of the test which promises to be keenly contested. Anyway, Akmal's performance would be under review and scrutiny at the conclusion of the test series.

    Wish Pakistan good luck in their endeavor!

    Mohsin Malik San Francisco Bay Area California

  • testli5504537 on January 27, 2007, 20:16 GMT

    give the guy a break, his dad just got shot. he's performed well with gloves and bat before when others havent......he needs time.

  • testli5504537 on January 27, 2007, 6:35 GMT

    I am a big supporter of Inzi but... how can you justiify Farhat,Hafeez,Yasir Hameed, Sami playing while you have guys like Asim Kamal, Salman Butt, Imran Nazir sitting out ?!?!?!?!

    And if Akmal doesnt get his act together in this match, he is just a shocking selection as the above-mentioned.

  • testli5504537 on January 26, 2007, 22:39 GMT

    3rd Test akmal again miss a simple stumping chance. When pak will learn about selecting the specialist players instead of picking bits and pieces like, akmal, razzak, hafiz etc for the test matches.

    In test match you should only play specialist players and avoid bits and pieces. Is there a statistic which tell how many catches have been dropped by akmal in this series?

    Anyone favouring akmal to stay as wicketkeeper is not sincere to either pak cricket or akmal himself.

    This 3rd match may not be simple for pak to save with akmal performance with the gloves and shoaib sent back. what a pity we are in ....

  • testli5504537 on January 26, 2007, 22:14 GMT

    Kamran Akmal needs to be replaced as soon as possible. His keeping is getting worse by the day. The selectors need to look at other options fast as Kamran's form is absolutely dreadful!!!

  • testli5504537 on January 26, 2007, 19:01 GMT

    PCB selection committee should start looking for a wicketkeeper to replace Akmal. He has lost his form with the gloves since the English tour. Keeping him in the team is not only harming the team but also Akmal's confidence. Every catch dropped or stumping missed is draining his confidence with gloves. His failure with the bat in the first innings of the thrid test provides an opportunity for PCB to replace him for the coming one day series.

  • testli5504537 on January 26, 2007, 18:21 GMT

    i tink we need to give z haider the gloves did anybody see the blunder today he done wid ashwell prince

  • testli5504537 on January 25, 2007, 23:12 GMT

    With regards to Kamran Akmal and the Wicket keeping saga, is there a cricket rule that a 12th man cannot keep wickets. I have seen scenarios where someone else within the playing 11 has kept wickets like Miandad but is it possible to keep Akmal in the playing 11 so that he can bat in the 3rd test and use Zulqarnain Haider as 12th man for some periods during the 3rd test.

  • testli5504537 on January 25, 2007, 20:58 GMT

    If anyone has ever kept b4 they will know that the chances the akmal dropped were extreamly tough, the only genuine chance the he grassed was the one of ab de villiers of the bolwing of sami ,apart from that his keeping was not as bas as every1 makes it out to be, and the pakistan public need to be realistic they want each player to be perfect and perform everyday of the year it doesnt work like that, at the moment gilchrist and sangakara are thought to be the best keepers in the world and if you watch them carefully they both will grass a couple of chances each match but they are still in the team coz they can bat. and kamran akmal can bat and hes proves on more then one occasion, wether it was in australia indian pakitsan or now in south africa, and another side of the story which i dont think most of the pakistani fans are aware of is the situation of kamran's father, if that had happened to my father i dont think i would have the strength to do anything neva mind playing an internatinal cricket match at one of the most difficult places and against one of the best teams in the world. to me Kamran was amazing, and i personally would like to thank him for his hard work and dedication and for bringing joy to every pakistan cricket fan

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