ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

World Cup 2011

Pakistan in a bind over Kamran

Problems with the bat could prompt Pakistan to retain Kamran Akmal despite his wicketkeeping woes

Osman Samiuddin in Pallekele

March 10, 2011

Comments: 84 | Text size: A | A

Kamran Akmal is under scrutiny off the field, but was in good spirits nonetheless, England v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Chester-le-Street, September 10 2010
Kamran Akmal's wicketkeeping has been under scrutiny for a while © Getty Images
Enlarge

Like a particularly spicy nihari, heavy defeats often have a wonderful way of unclogging the head. The fog lifts, everything becomes clearer, easier to comprehend and suddenly there is a flow, a way forward. Pakistan's loss to New Zealand revealed the folly three wins had clouded, one a long-running personnel issue, the other a question of strategy.

But in the here and now, for Pakistan, the result has only muddled matters further, because both flaws are linked, one stemming from the other. The more Pakistan persist with Kamran Akmal the more matches he will cost them, that is a simple truth and cannot be argued. But he is in the squad now and is the only - as much as this is an inaccurate statement - specialist wicketkeeper. They have to suffer him.

The reason they must do so, it is becoming clear, is because they have even less faith in their batting than most people do in Kamran's wicketkeeping. Until the last two games, the batting had actually performed with some solidity over the last few months. The resulting logic from 184 all out against Canada and 120 for seven against New Zealand is not that the top order should simply begin scoring, or that if the top six or seven fail, No.8 will rarely salvage matters. It is that more batsmen are needed.

There is no ostensible panic yet, but there is confusion and uncertainty, apparent at a dinner with Shahid Afridi on Wednesday evening. The captain had hinted immediately after the New Zealand game that Umar Akmal would be considered an option as a wicketkeeper. On Wednesday, Afridi appeared truly in a bind: he doesn't want to risk Kamran again but neither does he want to risk another batting flop, even if Kamran's batting contributions are not as substantial anymore as they are remembered.

He was supportive, as captains must be. "Kamran's performance is in front of everyone, he is putting in the hard work in the training sessions and he has done a lot of work for this World Cup, but he has not lived up to that level," he said. "We suffered a lot after he could not perform."

Then there was the glossing over, the retreat into lazy myths. "But I must say he has won lots of matches for Pakistan in the past, he is a very talented cricketer. We are at a stage where we should not panic, there are other players who are not performing it's not only Kami and we need to back them."

The conclusion? We don't know. "We will see if he plays the next game or not that we will see later on, but from my side I think we should give Kamran confidence because he is a good player, a good cricketer and there are lots of expectations that he will do good."

The failures of Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad twist the problem further. There is casual talk of dropping Shehzad, for example, and pushing Kamran to open. They could retain the openers and drop Kamran, using Umar behind the stumps. In both cases a spot opens up: bowler or batsman?

That another bowler is unlikely still is the only thing there appears to be some firmness on, despite them so missing one against New Zealand. "I don't think we are playing with a bowler short," Afridi said, before, like the rest of the team management, simply pretending Abdul Razzaq's bowling is not a problem. "We mostly struggle in batting and when we play less then people say we are playing with a batsman short, I think the combination with which we are playing is the balanced one. If you see bowlers Razzaq and Shoaib Akhtar are bowling well with the new ball, then we have Umar Gul, we have every type of variety."

For what it's worth, the younger Akmal, Umar, practiced with the gloves on Thursday in Kandy but so did Kamran. "We might change or even carry on with the same openers," Afridi said and he was even asked whether he could open himself. "If we make too many changes and start panicking it will be problem for us. Hafeez and Shehzad are not clicking, they need some runs. We are here with perfect openers and I don't think we can take that chance [of his opening]. Shehzad and Hafeez are there but we might open with Kamran Akmal too."

Nothing is clear, everything is on the table. They may do nothing at all ahead of the Zimbabwe game on Monday and there is a general mood of support within the team for Kamran. With just one loss, who's to say, in the light of day, they would be wrong in doing so? And who's still to write off their chances?

Afridi, who better captures the ways of Pakistan cricket and cricketers than many others, knows it. "If you look at Pakistan cricket over the last 50-60 years this is quite a normal performance of our team. But this is now done, it's enough and we have no chance to repeat such performances.

Against good teams and in pressure matches my boys play very well, like the game against Sri Lanka. I'm still looking at my team in the semi-final."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: Osman Samiuddin

© ESPN EMEA Ltd.

Comments: 84 
Posted by Morfi on (March 12, 2011, 13:21 GMT)

I think as far as first class cricket goes, Asad shafiq is a wicket keeper. Why not give him a chance? rest the bigger akmal and do nothing else...... hmmm

Posted by best2u57 on (March 12, 2011, 12:59 GMT)

NO NEED OF AKMAL BROTHERS

Posted by Umair_umair on (March 12, 2011, 11:27 GMT)

About Asad Shafiq: All the confusion among fans about Asad Shafiq being a wicket keeper is because of Asad Shafiq's profile at cricinfo web. Which says "Fielding position Wicketkeeper". Actually its not true. Asad Shafiq is not and have never been a wicketkeeper, just see the scorecards of the ListA and FirstClass matches he has played so far. He was never playing as a wicket keeper. I don't know from where did Cricinfo comeup with this info that Asad Shafiq is a wicket keeper. From a common sense point of view, see Asad's record on same cricinfo page. It says; 20 catch in 39 First Class Matches and 16 catches in 33 listA matches. That means 0.5 catch per match and Zero Stumpings. Is that record of a wicket keeper? Another hint, Asad has played all his cricket infront of Afridi's eyes in Karachi. Afridi would have known better, if Asad was a wicket keeper.Still anyone mistaken that he is a wicket keeper? Cricinfo please remove "Fielding position Wicketkeeper" in Asad Shafiq's profile

Posted by anwaralam on (March 12, 2011, 8:25 GMT)

Every Pakistani player must be asked to bowl n bat according to conditions. Ahmed Shehjad an example-Never playing on merit of the ball. From the very first ball starts to slog. A 50 over match needs patience. These are basics and must be adhered to. Shohaib Akhter and Razzak ruthlessly hit by Taylor. WHY?? Because they had no plan to bowl at him. Many ways to halt Taylors offensive were there. Low fulltoss outside the offstump an example. Thats what Australian bowlers do in the death overs. The Pakistanis threw their wickets away against Canada through injudicious strokes on a grassy pitch. The Pakistani players are not doing their homework at all. Learn from past mistakes. Sooner the better to avoid going down the rankings.

Posted by unleashedtrojan1 on (March 12, 2011, 6:57 GMT)

simple...drop shahzad and kamran opens...younus or umar keep wickets....

Posted by nabs85 on (March 12, 2011, 0:42 GMT)

THis is pretty straight forward now. I dont know if they have time to read our precious comments here and make decisions based on our comments here.. ( I Wish if this could happen) ...Anyways, Kamran doesn't have any place in the next match what so ever. I believe that we should have attacking openers who can hit the ball and use first 10 overs of power play wisely. #3 should NEVER be a person who can not middle the ball properly. IF you see Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa..WHo comes in # 3 for batting? Hell yes, Kallis, Ponting, and Jewardenay. And u can not match them with Kamran. We need Asad or Younus on number 3 and then misbha.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2011, 21:43 GMT)

This should be the batting for rest of the matches.

1. Hafeez ( unfortunately no other options left) 2. Shahzad 3. Younis 4. Razzaq 5. Misbah 6. Asad 7. Afridi 8. Gul 9. Ajmal 10. Junaid 11. Akhtar

Posted by   on (March 11, 2011, 20:00 GMT)

I agree with Shahid Afridi to keep Kamran in the side but not as wicket keeper but opening batsman.If he click then he is match winner.I prefer Asad Shafiq vs Shehzad.Shoib akthtar should be given a rest.Wahab Riaz should be included.Saeed Ajmal should be given achance inplace of Rehman.Batting order should be Kamran,Hafeez,Asad,Younus,Misbah,Razzaq,Umar Akmal,Afridi,Gul,Wahab Riaz and twelthman should Shehzad.

Posted by Umair_umair on (March 11, 2011, 19:27 GMT)

To Cricinfo: All the confusion among fans about Asad Shafiq being a wicket keeper is because of Asad Shafiq's profile at cricinfo web. Which syas "Fielding position Wicketkeeper".

Actually its not true. Asad Shafiq is not and have never been a wicketkeeper, just see the scorecards of the ListA and FirstClass matches he has played so far. He was never playing as a wicket keeper.

I don't know from where did Cricinfo comeup with this info that Asad Shafiq is a wicket keeper.

From a common sense point of view, see Asad's record on same cricinfo profile page. It says; 20 caches in 39 First Class Matches and 16 catches in 33 list A matches. That means 0.5 catch per match and Zero Stumpings. Is that record of a wicket keeper? Still anyone mistaken that he is a wicket keeper? Cricinfo please remove "Fielding position Wicketkeeper" in Asad Shafiq's profile.

Posted by   on (March 11, 2011, 19:08 GMT)

By just loosing one game does not mean that we have to change the side. We are persisting with Kamran Akmal from a very long time with the same sort of performances and the selectors had reposed complete confidence on him. Now when only TWO MATCHES ARE LEFT, we should go ahead with the same combination without indulging in any experiments. Luckily we have a bit weak Zimbabwe in front and we can do better and if not than we don't deserve to go into the next round.

Comments have now been closed for this article

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
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.

Walking up the down escalator

2014 in review: Player strikes, defeats against fellow minnows, and mountains of debt for the board marked another grim year for Zimbabwe

    The first Boxing Day classic

Ashley Mallett: Nearly 150 years ago, the MCG saw the start of a much-loved tradition, with a match starring Aboriginal players

Hangovers and headaches

2014 in review: Embarrassing defeats, a beleaguered captain, a bitter former star, alienating administrators - England's year was gloomy. By George Dobell

Ten years later

Gallery: Efforts by Surrey have helped transform a coastal village in Sri Lanka devastated by the December 26 tsunami

Rear-ended in Hambantota

Tour diary: Another eventful stint in the province

News | Features Last 3 days

Watson's merry-go-round decade

In January 2005, Shane Watson made his Test debut. What does he have to show for a decade in the game?

Power to Smithy, trouble for Dhoni

Australia's new captain admirably turned things around for his side in Brisbane, leading in more departments than one

Why punish the West Indies players when the administration is to blame?

As ever, the West Indies board has taken the short-term view and removed supposedly troublesome players instead of recognising its own incompetence

Gilchrist's conscientious moment

In the semi-final against Sri Lanka in 2003, Adam Gilchrist walked back to the pavilion despite being given not out by the on-field umpire

Australia's 50-50 lifelines

Three Australia players made half-centuries on day one at the MCG; for each of them, the innings' meant different things

News | Features Last 3 days
  • ESPN Cricinfo

World Cup Videos

Dhoni takes India home

Dhoni takes India home
03:52 | Nov 4, 2014
Yuvi steers India clear

Yuvi steers India clear
03:58 | Nov 4, 2014
Dhoni takes India home

Dhoni takes India home
04:48 | Nov 4, 2014
... and that's that

... and that's that
13:40 | Apr 11, 2011