ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

New Zealand v Pakistan, World Cup 2011, Pallekele

Calamity Kamran seems undroppable

How to approach this politely? Ian Chappell was pretty polite. "If his batting was as good as Don Bradman's," he said on air, "he couldn't score enough runs to make up for what he costs them with his keeping."

Osman Samiuddin in Pallekele

March 8, 2011

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How to approach this politely? Ian Chappell was pretty polite. "If his batting was as good as Don Bradman's," he said on air, "he couldn't score enough runs to make up for what he costs them with his keeping."

There are many ways in which the depth of denial in Pakistan - in all spheres of life - presents itself to the observer. No better example of it exists than the continued presence of Kamran Akmal in the side, the man to whom Chappell refers so politely. The world knows the worth of Akmal as a wicketkeeper: to be short, he is not one anymore. He is, to steal and twist the wonderful sledge Jimmy Ormond dished out to Mark Waugh once, not even the best wicketkeeper in his family. He's not even the second-best: Umar Akmal has looked safer than him on the occasions he has kept.

Yet as Pakistan has changed everything about its cricket over the last four years - captains, selectors, chairmen, players, coaches - Akmal has remained unchanged, unchallenged in his incompetency. Until the beginning of Pakistan's last summer in England, when there was still a will left to count, he was fluffing comfortably more than one chance per Test: 32 in 25 Tests. His ODI rate cannot be far behind.

There appears no sane reason for it and even an insane one right now would be handy. Shoaib Malik thought him the second-best wicketkeeper-batsman behind Adam Gilchrist during his captaincy, a hallucination rather than delusion. The pair are close, so nepotism was as good a reason as any. But what were the reasons for Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Salman Butt and now, Shahid Afridi to persist with him?

After every show of calamity, when the question is put to anyone in charge, the response is to say it is only one match, that everyone drops a catch occasionally, or the line Waqar Younis trotted out today, that we can't just blame the one person. We can at least blame those who keep selecting him. Those who argue that he compensates with his batting will kindly direct themselves to the brutality of Chappell's verdict: no amount of runs can make up for the matches, and as importantly the moments in matches, he has lost.

Kamran Akmal will be under intense scrutiny after his miserable performance in the first Test, Edgbaston, August 5, 2010
Despite consistently letting his side down, Kamran Akmal has been a mainstay of Pakistan's team over the last few years © Getty Images

The few times he has been dropped in the last four years - for the Asia Cup 2008, after the Australia tour last year, during the English summer - the performances leading into it have been so monumentally negligent that not dropping him might have risked the kind of revolution in Pakistan seen in the Arab world. It would probably take that still to shift him.

In any case he has returned back to the side at the first opportunity. Whether they forget or choose to overlook his errors is irrelevant: it is criminal in both cases. He sneaked into this squad only after being cleared by a board integrity committee. A wicketkeeping committee might have been better placed to rule on it.

Akmal's three misses - two off Ross Taylor - set the tone for the rest of the innings, Pakistan's most bedraggled performance in the field in this tournament so far. Their last one, against Sri Lanka, was sparked incidentally by two missed stumpings.

Short of injuring Akmal and sending him back, the only option Pakistan could explore is to play the younger Akmal as a wicketkeeper. In keeping with the cautious nature of the team's leaders, that seems unlikely. Asked whether they would consider it, Waqar Younis said, "After the World Cup maybe we can think about it, but we are in the middle of the tournament and I don't think we can make such a change. We have five days off in which we will try to rectify his mistakes because in such a short time we can't rectify all mistakes. We can't kick him out at the moment, we can try to make him better for the next game and make sure he won't make the same mistakes."

Meanwhile, the state of denial Pakistan remains in about the balance of its side should also take a few knocks here, hopefully. They persist in playing a specialist bowler short to buffer their batting. Playing a batsman at eight - Abdul Razzaq may open the bowling but he is no opening bowler, as tournament figures of 21-4-111-1 testify - has not helped their batting much in their last two games, precisely the situations the strategy is aimed at. Razzaq's 62 will, no doubt, be used as justification at some point in the future.

When Umar Gul had to be bowled out during the batting Powerplay - and his fine bowling will not even be a footnote - it left the last four overs to be bowled by someone who wasn't Gul. Those four overs, shared by Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar and Abdur Rehman, went for 92. Razzaq's four overs of the day went for 49, "a bit off-colour" Waqar said: a little yes, like black and white.

Yet the top order collapse seemed to confirm to Pakistan they need the batting. "We were 120-7 so we were short of batsmen," Waqar said. "I think 300 was chaseable. We can't afford to have another bowler in the side, as we are playing with six if you consider Mohammad Hafeez and Razzaq. I don't think we can manage another bowler."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 11, 2011, 6:12 GMT)













Posted by Shahid on (March 11, 2011, 3:17 GMT)

This guy Kamran Akmal is going to cost us the world cup if he keeps playing. It has come to a point where i feel frustrated and annoyed with his continuous selection and with cliche's like "he has won us many matches" and "he is a very talented cricketer". The team management doesn't even know that Asad Shafique plays first class cricket as a wicket keeper. I have to tell Waqar and Afridi that enough is enough and for God's sake let this guy go. What i fear is that he will miss out the Zimbabwe game and then he will be back for the next game against Australia. This has happened in the past and it will happen again.

Posted by Andrew on (March 11, 2011, 0:48 GMT)

The most dissappointing for me about Akmal (Kamran), is that he seems to be getting worse as both a batter & as a keeper. When he first came on the scene - I would of said he is not far off Dhoni as a keeper/batsmen. To compare those two now would be a slap in the face to Dhoni. Almost as dissappointing is that there is quite a good recent lagacy of wicket keepers from Pakistan from Bari thru to Moin, & Latif. Why can't somebody give him some tips? Ian Healy believes it's technical with Kamran. He did a session with him after the infamous Sydney Test. On top of all this, his batting (like his brothers) is nowhere near its potential over the last couple of years.

Posted by Atul on (March 10, 2011, 20:18 GMT)

It's simple and clear policy - Kamran cannot b replaced by a third person unless one of his own brothers can replace him. Poor Haider tried and it's still a mystery wat happend to him. The PCB circus goes on and on..

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 10, 2011, 18:13 GMT)

Akmal should STOP wearing white gloves right away, You can loose the ball in the shadows of white gloves and that moments lets you down.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 10, 2011, 17:58 GMT)

In the most important tournament how did we start talking about dropping the specialist wicket keeper and replacing with a total non experienced replacement.This is not the time get panic and further plunge in to a worst situation.The best solution is to give confidence to Kamran Akmal,have the coach to communicate with him.with the available options keeping him and having him perform his best for at least this world cup is the best option.I am sorry for my Pakistani fellows who are hastily deciding to get over Kamran without analyzing the situation.Kamran has been around for years and it will not be wise to just replace him for this most important tournament.And most importantly we should learn to treat our "getting ready to retire players" with dignity ,support and applause instead of "just throw him out" attitude.They served the nation and deserve support and respect even in their bad patch.

Posted by Mohammad Shehzad on (March 10, 2011, 16:12 GMT)

Asad Shafiq Profile showing that he is a specialist keeper...Why not replace kamran with Asad Shafiq? whats the problem?

Posted by Nasrullah on (March 10, 2011, 13:32 GMT)

I want to request the tour selection committe to try the following team in the next match agaist Zimbaway Hafeez ( Opener ) Kamran Akmal ( Opener) 3- Younas Khan 4- Misbah-ul-Haq 5- Asad Shafiq 6- Umer Akmal ( Wicket Keeper) 7-Shahid Khan Afridi 8- Riyaz Wahab 9- Junaid Khan 10- Umer Gul 11- Saeed Ajmal. An-other proposal is that Akmal Brothers can share 25/25 overs Wicket Keeping to share the burden of each other if it allowed by the rules and regulations. Kamran is a very good batsman like Umer Akmal. Please keep both brothers and guide them properly. Give rest to Shoaib and Razzaq and give them time to gather their energy and experience for next match. Junai Khan is a very displined bollower in the practice match he taken 3- wickets and given no extra run and his ecomomy was appercaible. Please try Junaid once again

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 10, 2011, 10:15 GMT)

i agree the root of the problem connects it with the chairman and selectors for picking this 3rd class keeper again and again ... for what waqar younas is sayin isnt a surprise for me at all ..he played all of his cricket with the fear of losing if u remember his captaincy he literaly finished one of the all time best spinner saqlain mushtaq's career and than who can forger the shambolics of 2003 in south africa so for me we have all the wrong men for the right jobs

Posted by Ahmed on (March 10, 2011, 10:08 GMT)

I think if Pak play him(if they must keep him) as a regular batsman then it would be beneficial. Poor guy always looks uncomfortable and has a worried look on his face behind the stumps.

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.

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