New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st Test, Dunedin, 5th day November 28, 2009

A serious talent announces himself

After passing a test of skill in the first innings, Umar Akmal was unflustered by the test of will in the second
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In September, Pakistan were dizzied in what should have been a routine chase against a West Indies second XI that still had more heart than the current first at the Champions Trophy. The pitch at the Wanderers had the kind of bounce and pace cricket presumably wants to consign to the same bin holding bouncers, lighter bats and longer boundaries. Chasing 134, Pakistan were 76 for 5 and their top order had dealt with bounce as expertly as the US has with Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq put together.

Umar Akmal eventually saw them home. But unless it is your job to be this way, his unbeaten 41 will, in this time of hyperbole and overload, not be an etching in your mind. It was a fine, composed hand, unrushed, not panicked and sensible. Either during the match, or at another, Sanjay Manjrekar, in a break from commentating brought up the innings. A properly earnest disciple of the Bombay school of batting, where technique and correctness is all and sometimes overbearingly so, Manjrekar was as impressed as he was surprised that such a batsman had come out of Pakistan. How solidly he got behind the rising ball, how well he let the ball go, how unhurried he was and how smartly he constructed his little innings; Manjrekar thought him to be the most proper batsman to emerge from this land for many years.

At the risk of being a product of this age, has there been a better, more rounded batsman to come through in Pakistan in the last decade? Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan, around the turn of the century, were the last batsmen Pakistan produced and both took time to settle in, and neither looked, initially, as settled, or as pure as does Akmal. A surprisingly large number of Pakistanis have scored hundreds on Test debut so Akmal, statistically, is not unique. And only three went on to substantial careers but there is something about Akmal, so much so that it is difficult to not be very excited.

There are more than just glimpses of his elder brother in some shots, but Umar's strokeplay is purer and broader, maybe unencumbered by the duties of 'keeping. That word 'pure' keeps coming up, and it is most appropriate for there is a clearheaded aggression in him that is the way of successful modern-day batsmen. He will not dally over wanting to drive through cover or square, he will go for it if he sees it there. He will not ponce around against spinners, inevitably making the first move. Unlike Kamran he has a leg-side game as well though the best of it all is his pulling, so sweet it might make you sick. Those particularly proficient at it - small men usually - do it to balls of length not deserving such fates, and Daniel Vettori would have grudgingly acknowledged such proficiency a bare handful of deliveries into Umar's Test debut.

Yousuf will not be alone in appreciating the significance of Akmal's second-innings 75 and Manjrekar and the Bombay school, and our own Hanif, had any of them been watching it, will have liked it even more than the first-innings hundred

But if it had been only the first-innings hundred then perhaps this piece might not have been written at all. A few would have been capable of producing that kind of one-off counterattack and a few have done; for one, his brother did it against India a few years back and a Faisal Iqbal 80-odd against Australia is also much remembered with fondness and sadness. But Yousuf will not be alone in appreciating the significance of his second-innings 75 and Manjrekar and the Bombay school, and our own Hanif, had any of them been watching it, will have liked it even more.

New Zealand knew more about him now, his urges and his thinking. Men were put on the boundary, a deep point was in place, bouncers were hurled in asking him to risk a pull and a stiff target waited on a last-day track; having passed a first test of skill, now came a test of will.

This was crisis management redux, from the first innings at least. Boundaries were not so cheap and gifts came, like hookers, with a price. He would have to know, as a newspaper once simply wrote of Hanif, that it pays to wait for runs. He did and very nearly it paid off; both for time and balls, he actually batted marginally longer than he did in the first innings and never looked like an imposter doing so. After his ODI hundred in Sri Lanka, a sprinkling of his talent at the Champions Trophy and a handy T20I innings or two, the conclusion is that he doesn't bat in a bubble. The mood, the context, the format, the task at hand - these are the things that shape his batting as much as his own skills.

It should not be lost on anyone that he is a product very much of Pakistan's cricketing system, and he was also almost lost to it. During a spell at the National Cricket Academy he was told to leave by head coach Mudassar Nazar because he didn't seem focussed enough, not practicing hard, throwing away his wickets and Nazar had had enough; Akmal, though, kept returning, and with a little word from his elder brother, got back in. He returned, according to Nazar, a changed boy.

The sifaarish [recommendation] was worth it, even if it is a shame for what it says about just how chancey the whole process often is. Otherwise though, he wasn't spotted in a side street in tattered clothes, shattering windows with his pulls. He worked his way up from junior level inter-city and district cricket, played and performed for Pakistan at Under-19 level and on Academy tours and spent a season wowing people for SNGPL domestically. When he got called up earlier this year to the national side, it was after he had hit three hundreds on an A team tour to Australia, against bowlers like Shaun Tait and Doug Bollinger.

Expectations now will rocket, which at one level is fine, for they have been so low of Pakistan's batsmen so long that it cannot be a bad thing. At another, it is unfair, especially when your current top order would struggle to make the tail of Canada's batting, and it will at some point become too much. But at that juncture Pakistan must remind themselves that like Mohammad Aamer, Akmal is genuine reason for hope. Neither must go to waste. After that they might even sit back and wonder contentedly at the continued ability of this country to keep producing such gems.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • nazim77 on December 2, 2009, 5:35 GMT

    Keep it up Umer Akmal, you are a hope of pakistan to build the new records................,

  • rzi-BDML on December 1, 2009, 11:03 GMT

    Younis kept saying not to over-praise the youngsters like umer and aamir in the begining of their careers. I think its not too early now to campare umer with the greats of cricket, like inzi and javed. he has shown the courage in all three formats now. Most of the people think, and rightly so that the test cricket is the real cricket to prove the skill. and umer even more stylish in this format is likely to fulfil the weekend middle order. BEST OF LUCK UMER FOR THE NEXT 25 YEARS( LIKE SACHIN)

  • nawwabsahab on November 30, 2009, 17:56 GMT

    Yousuf avgs 33 in australia, 26 in south africa and 33 in srilanka ...its just for the record ..:P so there is no point considering him the king of bouncy pitches. So plz groom kids who can play abroad too...

  • emarald on November 30, 2009, 17:01 GMT

    umar, definitely a great find pakistan.....hope he continues to do that.....imran nazir played some wonderful knocks with cool head during his debut years. i dont know what had affected his game....why pak still trying salman butt.he scores only against india........senior players not playing well for extended period only happen for sub continent teams only.......@hamsha ....you said guys like raina having technique.....he is a flat track bully....altohugh his size denies it........for the past one year ,,cricket has found some fresh and exciting playersa for the future.....hope,IPL doesn't get to them.....otherwise...same scenario as rohit sarma and ishant sharma....each cricketing nation has enough talent......but the system in a country is responsible for nurturing it.....politics has always playing part in indian and pakistan systems right from the grassroot....

  • Q72941 on November 30, 2009, 8:44 GMT

    I am not surprised as some fans have been - Umar's talent has been as aphoristic from the dawn of his first class career as it has been axiomatic during his List A matches.

    Just like Kevin Petersen and very few others, the writing was always on the wall for him. As noted by many Great Cricketers: Pakistan is full of raw talent but the Administration is yet to Professionalized.

    Same thing can be reiterated about Mohammad Aamer the other Rising Star.

    If PCB only learns from the other Cricketing Boards, they would be able to not only unearth precious gems like these but also polish and nurture them perpetually - Hence becoming more profitable and worthy of their weight in the World of Cricket.

    Lastly just like many other Cricket fans, I hope these young lads don't go waste as many exciting prospects have gone to oblivion from Pakistan Cricket.

  • kevinross on November 30, 2009, 7:36 GMT

    I think its about time that we restructure and do dirty laundry of cricket veterans running the PCB show (Intikhab Alam and Butt) and then of few players who are hanging around like a dirty shirt causing more harm then good to Pakistan cricket.

    I don't believe in politics or have any favourism.. I go after statistics because they tell you the real trust. We all know that A) Younis Khan , Misbah Ul Haq , Shoaib Malik , Fawad Alam and Mohmad Yousuf are all players that have scored majority of runs on dead sub continental picthes..so one should not expect them to do wonders on bouncy / fast pitches.

    If you keep politics aside and look at statistics Pakistan should always stick to this team if they want to win in Australia /Newzeland.

    1) Opening Pair - Salman Butt / Imran Nazir (Be 2) Yasir Hamid 3)Umar Akmal 4)Mohmad Yousef 5)Kamran Akmal 6)Shahid Afridi 7) Amir 8) Rana Naveed (for test) Shoaib Akhter (for ODI) 9) Mohamad Asif 10) Ajmal / Umer Gul (depending on pitch conditions)

  • KingKallis on November 29, 2009, 15:38 GMT

    Taufeeq Umar / Asim Kamal should be given more chances than spineless Farhat

  • BoonBoom on November 29, 2009, 15:01 GMT

    Imran Farhat needs one year practice for slip catching and satya17 needs a crash course in english language..........

    my friend satya...wakeup and see we are actually praising your players !!

  • Nipun on November 29, 2009, 15:01 GMT

    It's silly to see people making so much hype about talent.Had talent been everything,Mohammad Ashraful,Alok Kapali,& Mashrafe Mortaza would have been amongst the 3 leading cricketers of the past 4/5 years.

  • HOTCHA on November 29, 2009, 14:24 GMT

    Umar Akmal is decidedly an exciting prosepct. For one so young, he bats with a lot of maturity. Pakistan have had a lot of talented players, but hardly ones with staying power. The days of Hanif Mohamed, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad or even an Inzamam are but history. Let's hope Akmal can do a Tendulkar for Pakistan. He needs to be guided in his growth. Over to the Pakistan administration.

  • nazim77 on December 2, 2009, 5:35 GMT

    Keep it up Umer Akmal, you are a hope of pakistan to build the new records................,

  • rzi-BDML on December 1, 2009, 11:03 GMT

    Younis kept saying not to over-praise the youngsters like umer and aamir in the begining of their careers. I think its not too early now to campare umer with the greats of cricket, like inzi and javed. he has shown the courage in all three formats now. Most of the people think, and rightly so that the test cricket is the real cricket to prove the skill. and umer even more stylish in this format is likely to fulfil the weekend middle order. BEST OF LUCK UMER FOR THE NEXT 25 YEARS( LIKE SACHIN)

  • nawwabsahab on November 30, 2009, 17:56 GMT

    Yousuf avgs 33 in australia, 26 in south africa and 33 in srilanka ...its just for the record ..:P so there is no point considering him the king of bouncy pitches. So plz groom kids who can play abroad too...

  • emarald on November 30, 2009, 17:01 GMT

    umar, definitely a great find pakistan.....hope he continues to do that.....imran nazir played some wonderful knocks with cool head during his debut years. i dont know what had affected his game....why pak still trying salman butt.he scores only against india........senior players not playing well for extended period only happen for sub continent teams only.......@hamsha ....you said guys like raina having technique.....he is a flat track bully....altohugh his size denies it........for the past one year ,,cricket has found some fresh and exciting playersa for the future.....hope,IPL doesn't get to them.....otherwise...same scenario as rohit sarma and ishant sharma....each cricketing nation has enough talent......but the system in a country is responsible for nurturing it.....politics has always playing part in indian and pakistan systems right from the grassroot....

  • Q72941 on November 30, 2009, 8:44 GMT

    I am not surprised as some fans have been - Umar's talent has been as aphoristic from the dawn of his first class career as it has been axiomatic during his List A matches.

    Just like Kevin Petersen and very few others, the writing was always on the wall for him. As noted by many Great Cricketers: Pakistan is full of raw talent but the Administration is yet to Professionalized.

    Same thing can be reiterated about Mohammad Aamer the other Rising Star.

    If PCB only learns from the other Cricketing Boards, they would be able to not only unearth precious gems like these but also polish and nurture them perpetually - Hence becoming more profitable and worthy of their weight in the World of Cricket.

    Lastly just like many other Cricket fans, I hope these young lads don't go waste as many exciting prospects have gone to oblivion from Pakistan Cricket.

  • kevinross on November 30, 2009, 7:36 GMT

    I think its about time that we restructure and do dirty laundry of cricket veterans running the PCB show (Intikhab Alam and Butt) and then of few players who are hanging around like a dirty shirt causing more harm then good to Pakistan cricket.

    I don't believe in politics or have any favourism.. I go after statistics because they tell you the real trust. We all know that A) Younis Khan , Misbah Ul Haq , Shoaib Malik , Fawad Alam and Mohmad Yousuf are all players that have scored majority of runs on dead sub continental picthes..so one should not expect them to do wonders on bouncy / fast pitches.

    If you keep politics aside and look at statistics Pakistan should always stick to this team if they want to win in Australia /Newzeland.

    1) Opening Pair - Salman Butt / Imran Nazir (Be 2) Yasir Hamid 3)Umar Akmal 4)Mohmad Yousef 5)Kamran Akmal 6)Shahid Afridi 7) Amir 8) Rana Naveed (for test) Shoaib Akhter (for ODI) 9) Mohamad Asif 10) Ajmal / Umer Gul (depending on pitch conditions)

  • KingKallis on November 29, 2009, 15:38 GMT

    Taufeeq Umar / Asim Kamal should be given more chances than spineless Farhat

  • BoonBoom on November 29, 2009, 15:01 GMT

    Imran Farhat needs one year practice for slip catching and satya17 needs a crash course in english language..........

    my friend satya...wakeup and see we are actually praising your players !!

  • Nipun on November 29, 2009, 15:01 GMT

    It's silly to see people making so much hype about talent.Had talent been everything,Mohammad Ashraful,Alok Kapali,& Mashrafe Mortaza would have been amongst the 3 leading cricketers of the past 4/5 years.

  • HOTCHA on November 29, 2009, 14:24 GMT

    Umar Akmal is decidedly an exciting prosepct. For one so young, he bats with a lot of maturity. Pakistan have had a lot of talented players, but hardly ones with staying power. The days of Hanif Mohamed, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad or even an Inzamam are but history. Let's hope Akmal can do a Tendulkar for Pakistan. He needs to be guided in his growth. Over to the Pakistan administration.

  • JibranSial on November 29, 2009, 12:23 GMT

    @ NawwabSahab, dont say Yousuf can play bounce. Dont you remember his Brilliant Hundred in Australia against the likes of McGrath and Warne. Dont you remember his batting was crucial in winning our previous series in NZ. Dont you remember him scoring BIGGG in England against Harmison, flintoff with 202,192,128 etc.. Dont say he cant play bounce, Okey!

  • Percy_Fender on November 29, 2009, 11:43 GMT

    Umar Akmal, Aamer, Asif and Fawad Alam are good and more so, they are very young even by Pakistan's notorious standards. They seem to be the future Pakistan cricket. Sadly however, their top order does not inspire any confidence. That is possibly because they have become part of the team on the basis of their scores in domestic cricket or maybe because of their connections which is so important in Pakistan.An illustration of their inept top order can be seen in their abject performances in Sr Lanka recently when they just crumbled after excellent starts.Perhaps they do not travel well or are not motivated enough unless they are playing India.If their top order had played even reasonably well I think they would have won the last Test in New Zealand quite easily.It is sad that no captain has been able to give charecter to their players in the manner Imran and to a limited extent Inzamam did. In such a situation, no coach can really help. Woolmer got popular only after he was killed.

  • nawwabsahab on November 29, 2009, 8:23 GMT

    Umar is a good talented guy but hay...plz plz plz give him some time to evolve...He has to learn the art of batting in different conditions. dont just ran over him with cherrs of "best batsman ever produced" type shouts. Wait and hope he continue to perform well in all forms of the game atleast a whole season. Other then that, Pak dont really have even 2 quality batsmen in their top order. Yousuf at bouncy pitches is nothing. He bats like a duck if the bowl is climbing to him. Right now we have 8/10 tried, tested and failed openers who seems like a stagnet tower (without hint of any feet). Fawad has to stick to the chances hez getting. not many will followed. Malik isnt suitable for tests. We should give Misbah a chance with Younis. If they perform, let them stay for a while otherwise pick more kids to prepare a team for future. It wont get worst than that. After all its good to lost with new kids than old loosers.

  • U.A.1985 on November 29, 2009, 7:39 GMT

    @Blue_Devil Because Pakistan produces lot of good bowlers. Despite so called good coaching Indian ninfrastructure you still cannot deny that Pakistan produces better bolwers

  • Andrew_Sam on November 29, 2009, 7:30 GMT

    Umar is a great talent and it's good to see he is performing in the Test arena! Fortunately Pakistan's recent talent acquisitions have played more in the Test arena unlike our talents like Rohit Sharma, Raina, Kohli etc.

    It's partly due to the solidarity of the big three in the middle order that we have (which by the way is absolutely great).

    These youngsters must play more 4 day and 5 day games. And we for sure know Umar Akmal can play all three forms of the game, like what Gambhir is doing for India now, which is fantastic. Unlike other 20/20 superstars in the subcontinent.

    I'm watching out for Umar Akmal, Mohammed Aameer, (resurgence of) Mohammed Asif, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma and Ojha, Adrain Barath and Kemar Roach.. exciting times as legends are fading out and new legends are making their way in!

    P.S. And no I am not saying these youngsters are legends yet, just that the talent is there. don't want everybody to bash me for that :)

  • binkaf on November 29, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    Yes obviously Umar Akmal iz a serious talent and som1 to be handled wid care coz he who knows he may hold the fate of Pakistan Cricket! But, I m worried that unnecessary but regularly occuring political intervenes may not left even this youngster untouched & hence being a Cricket fan & admirer wish n' pray for this kid'z long career coz he'z not only the possession of Pakistan Cricket; he'z som1 upon whom whole cricket fans across the glove can take pride.

  • NuzairDGr8 on November 29, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    @ Mr A2Z i think Bond was rightly given man of the match because he was the man who turned the game around in NZ's favour whether u like it or not. If Umar had guided Pak home with that finishing touch then definitely he would have been MOM. Bond got his wicket and changed the game so he was rightly MOM

  • NuzairDGr8 on November 29, 2009, 6:08 GMT

    Well said Osman Samiuddin, his 75 in the second innings was much better than the 100 in the first innings. Well, i remember opening cricinfo.com when he was touring Australia with the Pakistan A side and i when i saw those hundreds and fifties in all formats (T20, Test, ODI) against bowlers like Shaun Tait, Clint Mckay, Doug Bollinger at a great S/R I knew this guy is a legend in the making and soon he made his debut in an ODI against the Lankans. Although, his first ODI innings wasnt as big but it was very convincing. The next ODI he made a brilliant fifty, then a hundred and launched himself to international cricket. As far as the first test against NZ goes, i think that Imran Farhat was the reason Pak lost!! I maybe biased but his dropped catches made all the difference in the match! Furthermore he made 23 in 2 innings!! The solution that i see is that the top order is not experienced and clicking therefore Imran, Fawad and Manzoor should be replaced by Misbah, Butt and Faisal.

  • Nipun on November 29, 2009, 5:42 GMT

    Unfortunately for Umar Akmal,Mohammad Aamir,Mohammad Asif,Umar Gul,& Saeed Ajmal,they play for a team whose top order consists of the likes of Khurram Manzoor,Shoaib Malik, Fawad Alam(an excellent debut,but his lack of any technique is so apparent that it hurts to see him bat proper pitches),& Imran Farhat.Manzoor & Mohammad Yousuf will continue to flourish against weak opponents like Zimbabwe & Bangladesh but be all at sea against proper teams. It's fun to watch Pakistan cricket,for the disasters they create are unique!:P

  • TMS8137 on November 29, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    This thrilling game between two evenly matched teams seems to reiterate the need for a two division test championship.

  • Supratik on November 29, 2009, 5:16 GMT

    It is indeed pleasing to see a bright young talent coming out from across the border. Pakistan team needs at least 3-4 such talent coming out and that will make world cricket more pleasing. The edge will come back to Indo-Pak cricket, which is badly needed for test cricket to survive. Who will forget the halycon days of the 70's-80's & the even the period between 1996-2005. One just hopes Umar and Mohd. Amir do not fade away due to selectorial whims, board politics and brinkmanship. Pakistan has lost a lot of talent in the recent past for these reasons.

  • Pankajkasana on November 29, 2009, 4:33 GMT

    My God!!! So exciting a prospect Pakistan has got. He is a gem of a player and seems to be in perfect mood to be the best bat Pak produced, though I am not sure whether the potential will be realized. As for the moment, just sit back and soak into the beauty of this lad's batsmanship. Way to go dear. @ MrA2Z, Get a life boss. I am an Indian and I am in as much awe of Umar as you are. Dont generalize the things, for God's sake...

  • hit_n_win on November 29, 2009, 4:16 GMT

    pak need to some changes here they must be drop fawad alam and shoib malik.give thance of afridi and abdul razaq cause they are much better player than those 2.pak need 2 go with these playe in 2nd test. salaman butt,shaid afridi,misbha,yousuf,umer akmal,faisal iqbal,kamran akmal,abdul razak,umer gul,asif,amir

  • sami1284 on November 29, 2009, 1:34 GMT

    @Satya and @ Hamza and @ Mr. A2Z... Satya, Hamza was praising the indian batsman technique... agreed to Mr. A2Z.

    I watched this complete match and Umar Akmal came under my radar since his Australia A tour which was phenomenal. Really only two batsman performed and they were the Akmal brothers... I really feel Kamran has been performing well as well and should be in the place of Malik so he gets more time. Manzoor, Farhat, Alam, Yousuf and Malik didn't even score... I think Aamer could have scored more higher up... Umar Akmal is special that's for sure. I hope that Afridi can come back to play tests and now it doesn't seem such a bad idea to get Misbah back for tests... Younis didn't help the team either by sitting out... he should've played and relieved himself of captaincy - My XI - 1. Kamran, 2. Nazir/Hameed, 3. Younis, 4. Yousuf, 5. Umar, 6, 7. Malik/Misbah/Afridi (two of the three), 8. Aamer, 9. Gul, 10. Asif, 11. Ajmal/Kaneria

    Thanks, Sami

  • HaaZ on November 29, 2009, 0:14 GMT

    What a wonderful article written for a wonderful player.No Doubt Umar Akmal has immense talent, I understand that players like Ali Naqvi, Taufeeq Umar,Yasir Hameed have gone in oblivion real quick but this guy is unique.The strokes that he plays at the age of 19 and the solid defence he has makes him the emerging player of this year. The very first match he played it gave a sense that this guy has a great future. I wish him much succes in the coming years.

  • Paul_M_NZ on November 28, 2009, 23:59 GMT

    @ BoonBoom: While I agree that one test is not sufficient to proclaim him the next great talent, I think it is important to note that both Mohammad Waseem and Ali Naqvi scored centuries in Pakistan, and Ali Naqvi's was in a high scoring drawn match. This was great as Umar scored runs on a seeming bouncy wicket.

    I often get frustrated when I see comparisons of players with no regard to the conditions they play in. Yes the Indian top order all have good averages, but do a filter on outside of Asia and see what happens. For example Yuvraj averages 17.7 in 11 tests outside Asia. Samaraweera has a career average of 52.5, but only averages 31.5 outside of Asia. In Australia, New Zealand and England the average falls to 25.5.

    It is great that Umar has scored runs in tough conditions in New Zealand. I think we will all watch with interest to see how he does in Australia.

  • Chris_Howard on November 28, 2009, 23:45 GMT

    2009 has brought some wonderful new and young batting talent to the game. The standouts look to be Duminy and Umar Akmahl, but there's others like Phil Hughes and Adrian Barath.

    PS Shark810, that was exactly the author's point.

  • JibranSial on November 28, 2009, 22:14 GMT

    @ BoonBoom, What is different between him and other players of last decade is that all of them started their careers at home in friendly conditions and easy opponents and when their team was on top with no pressure. Umar, on ther other hand had to deal with the moving ball, and the pressure of 85/5 against 429 or even greater pressure on 4th innings chase at 23/3 against the new ball.. Whats more different is that none of the previous starters have done things like blasting Malinga, Murli for Huge sixes or hitting Shane Bond for fours right from the start.

  • Blue_Devil on November 28, 2009, 21:03 GMT

    Umar Akmal has a potential to be a star down the road. However, I don't understand why Pakistan cannot produce more batsmen like him on a more frequent basis. The only two world-class batsmen(Yousuf and Younis) currently playing, came along ten years ago!

    Why is it that India keeps producing great bastmen on a regular basis while we can only produce one or two world-class willow wielders every ten years? The current Indian batting line-up is studded with world-class perfomers - Gambhir, Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dravid, Yuvraj, Laxman not to mention Dhoni. Is there something in their diet that makes them special? Why have the Pakistanis been unable to find batsmen even remotely close to the caliber of a Dravid or a Gambhir over the last 10 years?

    Perhaps it is the sound coaching infrastructure in India that is so sorely lacking on the other side of the border. It is high time the Pakistani batsmen join the ' Bombay school of batting' to re-learn the basics - no more excuses.

  • Zahidsaltin on November 28, 2009, 20:32 GMT

    Osman; eid Mubarak and I must appriciate this article and the person who its all about. Umar have surely played his first test but it's some time now that he is showing his worth. I have been hoping his inclusion in the national setup since long ago and got it itching me since those 3 centuries in Australia. I must also say, Fawad may not be equiped with so classy technique and flow but I have full confidence in this lad too, he is not a product to be wasted at batting places of "fill in the blancks", as he is a no. 6 bat and should be given due time to settle there. I saw Manzoor playing both of his short presences at a wicket where the cherry deviated a bit, and frankly speaking he was no where near the minimum of techniques. God know how scored all those Q.A trophy runs but with this technique he won't last long. The two opners and Malik are the weakest of links in the team and must be sorted out. New boys like Naveed Yasin should be given chances.

  • leftybat on November 28, 2009, 19:45 GMT

    Well said - this guy is a serious and fantastic talent. I have never seen any batsman in the world in recent years with such a compact technique and such confidence and mental strength. Lets hope he continues to bat in this way and stays humble. He could be the batsman of the next decade - like Tendulkar and Ponting.

    BTW - I am Indian and completely agree with Mr. A2Z and disagree with Satya17 - none of the younger Indian batsman have demonstrated strong tecniques and mental strength. Gambhir is close but Sharma, Raina, Kohli etc. are a far cry from world class - they have been made heros too early and don't have what it takes to be world class. Umar Akmal is way ahead of the game from his early performances.

  • ElectronSmoke on November 28, 2009, 18:21 GMT

    I daresay Umar Akmal has indeed lent the "WOW" factor to the Pakistan batting order much like Mohd. Aamer has brought it for the bowling line-up. So much talent falls through the crack of PCB run establishment that sometimes its not even sad - just purely ridiculous that such young kids arrive in Pakistan so ready for international cricket! Then there are pretenders: Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma (India), Shaun Tait (Aus), Monty Panesar, Joe Denly (Eng) etc have all flattered to deceive despite obvious talent.

    Its refreshing to see Umar with such clear headed and sure approach to batting - alongside JP Duminy and Eoin Morgan must rank as three of the most exciting young arrivals - as an Indian and an admirer of good cricket regardless of nationality - I sincerely hope when the sterner tests and failures arrive he is not discarded like Ali Naqvi, Basit Ali, Wajahatullah Wasti and so many other talents who have gone before him.

  • Mr.A2Z on November 28, 2009, 17:28 GMT

    @ satya17, mate read his comment once again if you can understand english. You indians always wana write something against Pakistani whether its right or wrong. He is actually praising all those indian batsmen and admired their quality of technique. But you dragged his comment on the opposite side.

  • Suhayl on November 28, 2009, 17:27 GMT

    For me, the reaction of the New Zealand team when they got Umar Akmal out said it all. They were celebrating like they Tendulkar or Steve Waugh out in a hard fought match. One must remember that this is a debutant we are talking about. Khurram Manzoor and Imran Farhat should be dropped for Salman Butt and Faisal Iqbal immediately. Khurram would find it hard to make it into a club side and Imran Farhat needs to spend at least a year practicing slip catches daily.

  • Quazar on November 28, 2009, 17:26 GMT

    Umar Akmal has certainly shown signs in his young international career that he may have the talent and, more importantly, the temperament to become a name to reckon with on the field. And one clear advantage he seems to have over Saeed Anwar and (even more so) over Inzamam is his physique / fitness. Now we have to wait and see how he handles the pressure that comes both on and off the field as one starts to enter the limelight.

  • BoonBoom on November 28, 2009, 16:32 GMT

    Certainly Umar Akmal seems to have tremendous talent and potential but one test and few ODI innings are not enough to label him as the "find of the decade". Remember, Pak had quite a few players in the past that started their career with a big blast but did not last long. Yasir Hameed made two hundreds on his debut, Mohammad Waseem and Ali Naqvi also made hundreds on their debut. Regarding Ali Naqvi it was said Pak has finally found a reliable opener but he too soon faded within no time. The list of such players is endless and I do hope Umar does not become a new entry of this list.

    In no way I am taking any credit away from young Umar. I wish him all the best and hope he will break all batting records for Pakistan but I am just trying to warn everyone please don't make him a superstar in just few hours. He has to go a long way to prove his caliber. The real test would be in Australian and English conditions.

  • Mr.A2Z on November 28, 2009, 16:03 GMT

    I think he should be the Man of the Match. ICC should change 'Man of the Match' title to 'Man of the Wining Team'. Umar Akmal deserved the Man of the Match title.

  • newyork2011 on November 28, 2009, 16:01 GMT

    Another Fantastic article by Osman Samiuddin, Umar Akmal has made a dream start to his career in all forms and has Great Temperament for a 19 year old. He just has to keep his feet on the ground and not get carried away by all the adulation that he is getting. He seems to be the most complete batsman from Pakistan since Miandad. Lets hope that he keeps fit, injury free and level headed. Pakistan needs to make some changes for the remaining two tests and for the Australian trip, they should make room for Imran Nazir and Shahid Afridi in the test team. True that both of them fail 60% of the time, but the 40% time they succeed they prove to be match winners and both of them are energetic, aggressive and excellent fielders. Faisal Iqbal is a much solid test batsman then Alam and should be included. Misbah is a reliable slip specialist and should be given a chance. Shoaib Malik doesnt seem to be a team player and should be given a rest to sort out his problems. Get some reliable openers.

  • hollandindian on November 28, 2009, 15:55 GMT

    @hamza1982.

    You noticed Gambhir, Raina, Kohli and Sharma for India as test players and their lack of techniques. But I love to say that Gambhir is in the form of his life. He is just unstoppeble at the moment. He is pilling up the runs just everywhere and against every team. And about the others, how can you say that they lack techniques if they even didn t not made their debut for India?? Very bad opion with no arguments.

  • CiMP on November 28, 2009, 15:15 GMT

    True, Mohd Aamer and Umar Akmal are the two bright stars of the future of world cricket and not just Pakistan.

    Umar Akmal has performed in all the 3 forms of the game so far and has not only showed "skill and will" but also great character and a head for cricket thinking.

    Perhaps after Abdul Quadir and the W twins, we are seeing a bowler from Pakistan who really is exciting yet disciplined in Aamer.

    Good luck to both for the future! Inshallah, they will bring many laurels and wins to Pakistan in international cricket in the next decade.

  • balajik1968 on November 28, 2009, 15:11 GMT

    I saw a part of Umar Akmal's innings today, and he looked impressive. I think Pakistan has identified a genuine talent along with Fawad Alam and Mohammed Aamer. They should nurture these guys with care. Far too many young promising Pakistani cricketers have fallen away. It would be a pity if it happens to these guys. By the way, what happened to Fawad Alam? I am an Indian, I would love to see these guys perform.

  • hamza1982 on November 28, 2009, 14:22 GMT

    Thank god for Umar Akmal, we sure needed another batsman. What is wrong with Pakistani cricket?we only take cricket seriously, yet we have struggled so much in the last 10 years to produce batters?I think we put too much emphasis on looking for the next Wasim Akram, and not enough on finding the next Saeed Anwar. We also need to put a greater emphasis on things like technique and less emphasis on things like power hitting.Look at the quality of the technique of the last few Indian batsman such as Rohit Sharma, Gambhir, Kholi, Raina, or even wasim Jaffer.Now compare their techniques to Imran Nazir, Hameed, Raza, Farhat, Manzoor, Malik, Taufeeq, or anyother of the dross that Pakistan has produced over the last 10 years. These guys aren't worthy of cleaning Saeed Anwars boots!! Anyway we seriously need to change the batting line up for the next test and here are my batters for the 2nd test:Butt,Manzoor,Iqbal,Yousuf,U.Akmal,Misbah,K.Akmal...

  • tarantan on November 28, 2009, 13:56 GMT

    and there is another brother apparently at least as promising waiting in the wings in the Akmal household by the name of Adnan.

  • mueenhameed on November 28, 2009, 13:55 GMT

    Well done Usman....I think you have worked hard to write such balanced and wonderful article like Umar Akmal did in batting. He is a class player and I believe he will serve Pakistan cricket with his skillful approach on cricket like his elder brother.After long time I have seen brilliant bowling display by Pakistan pacers...Amer & Asif were simply the best in test. I am sure it was fielding which cost us first test. I will suggest to bring in Imran Nazir as he is the best fielder of the lot we have nowadays. We cannot afford more experiment on this tour. I dont know why dont we put Kamran Akmal in opening spot ? Because we can bring another all rounder in the playing squad........like Shahid Afridi / Abdul Razzaq/ Rana Naveed.

    Mueen ud din Hameed -Toronto

  • _Nihar on November 28, 2009, 13:52 GMT

    Well Editors jump at everything that is flashy. I remember when Yaseer hameed began his career with centuries against Bangladesh, lot of experts and the sports journalists jumped to conclusions about him. But time and only time will decide if he is destined to be great. He has to perform against all nations that too consistently over a long period of time, to be called 'Great'. A lot of Young Pakistani Batsmen have come and gone from the international scene but you can say that Umar is the best bet at present. Still putting unnecessary tags on a young batsmen like Umar can simply be called Oppurtunistic and we should wait for some more time before we can call any young cricketer a Serious talent.

  • umairhuda on November 28, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    This is one of the great article and I should appreciate Mr. Osman Samiuddin..Thanks for sharing such a great artice with us Osman.. Well as far as Omar Akmal's concern I would like to say that he has got a great potential and he has got the temprament as well. He is great future for not only for Pakistan cricket only but for world cricket as well. He has shown the class to the world.. In Pakistan there are so many Omar there but nobody is finding them at all. Omar will lead Pakistan in future and he will be a rising star for world cricket.. Amazing to watch his batting..

  • Sjsharma on November 28, 2009, 13:40 GMT

    He stood among ruins like many greats did in their time. Umar is a gem, polished and sparkling. God bless him and his country. Nothing is more healing than a precious sportsman who rises among seniors and some batting failures. Pakistan would pamper him, cricket fans in India will cherish to watch him. Umar and his team will receive warm welcome in the world of cricket (including India).....Thank you for the innings!

  • dyogesh on November 28, 2009, 13:40 GMT

    Not just Pakistan. But i wonder who was the last well-rounded teenage batsman who comes on a trip abroad and looked the part ? Perhaps, we need to go 20 years back !

  • nsidd75 on November 28, 2009, 13:36 GMT

    A great talent which was a long time coming. i just hope he keeps his mind straight and keeps playing well. So refreshing to see players such players come through the turmoil of Pakistani cricket.

  • SHARK810 on November 28, 2009, 13:25 GMT

    USA didn't defeat Vietnam. And they aren't dealing with Afghanistan or Iraq all that well. You Fail.

  • Percy_Fender on November 28, 2009, 13:18 GMT

    I have been watching Umar Akmal from the time he made his debut in Sri Lanka in the one dayers and have been very impressed since. I was not surprised therefore when he got a hundered on debut and played an invaluable innings in the second innings of the recent Test in New Zealand. It is most unfortunate that he was not able to lead Pakistan to victory. Umar has an excellent temperament it seems apart from a good technique as well. I think he should be batting at No3 for Pakistan in all formats of the game. That will give him the opportunity to build his confidence against quality fast bowling. It will be very interesting to see his evolvement hereon because Pakistan is touring Australia after New Zealand. That should round him up for further challenges.The Bombay technical book has been the Bible for many great batsmen for some time. But in todays game of different formats, a good batsman needs to be innovative. I think Umar has this streak as well. Let us wait and see a star rise.

  • worldorder on November 28, 2009, 13:01 GMT

    Osman, like Umar Akmal you are a class act in your own way. I hope we get more writers like you.

    As for the test match, even though we lost, the batting and bowling displays from Umar Akmal and Mohammad Aamer were a treat to watch. Also, not to forget a reborn Asif leading a young and exciting pace attack who can go places if they can stick together and not do any thing stupid. there have been enough said and not much done for fielding and opening. Let's hope and pray that we can get a gem like Umar at opening spot (Oh! Please Allah) as well. Lastly a question.

  • zulfiqar123 on November 28, 2009, 12:51 GMT

    I was surprised when pakistan announced 11 for the test as it had three front positions being occupied by the players who don't have technique, courage and will to play at international level, how can we win a test when we are going in the match with two specialist batsmen (Yousour and Umar Akmal) an all rounder (Shoaib Malik), three pacers and one spinner plus a wicket keeper and 3 fill in the balnks in Imran Farhat, Khurram Manzoor and Fawad Alam. It is a shame the affairs in cricket board are being run in such a way and PCB is playing with the sentiments of 160 million people in Pakistan and million others living in the world, who support Pakistan Cricket Team. It is time to consider and plan for future, past is past. Intikhab Alam should be sacked immediately and overall Ijaz Bhat an old ailing man and others in PCB be sacked except Javed Miandad and new faces be included in PCB. If President Zardari wants Pakistan cricket to flourish, please take the action in right direction.

  • Dr_Omar_Khan on November 28, 2009, 12:00 GMT

    Great article. Thought it was a great test match cuz it separated the good from the bad. Akmal and Yousaf made batting look so easy and as soon as Malik came in, you could tell how important technique was. This is why Test matches are so awesome. Also a shout out for the Pakistani bowlers. Bowled much much better than new zealanders, who overall had a good line but their balls weren't doing too much. I thought Asif wasn't given enough credit for his comeback game with 8 wickets and he should have shared some of Bond's glory, if not equal, esp after such terrible fielding. Pakistani bowling attack is definitely capable of 20 wickets as they got 27 in this match alone!

  • Just_Love_Cricket on November 28, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    Very well written Osman. There are definately signs of greatness with Umer Akmal. Signs probablt not seen since Miandad or Inzamam. he is natural and instinctive - and most of all hungry for runs. I just hope he and Amir dont get dragged into the politics of Pakistan cricket. just play your games boys... and greatness is your destiny. we should do away with people like Imran Farhat; i dont even understand why he is in the team aftar his previous attitudes. Shoaid Malik needs only India to perform well against. lets get Imran Nazir back in the team.

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  • Just_Love_Cricket on November 28, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    Very well written Osman. There are definately signs of greatness with Umer Akmal. Signs probablt not seen since Miandad or Inzamam. he is natural and instinctive - and most of all hungry for runs. I just hope he and Amir dont get dragged into the politics of Pakistan cricket. just play your games boys... and greatness is your destiny. we should do away with people like Imran Farhat; i dont even understand why he is in the team aftar his previous attitudes. Shoaid Malik needs only India to perform well against. lets get Imran Nazir back in the team.

  • Dr_Omar_Khan on November 28, 2009, 12:00 GMT

    Great article. Thought it was a great test match cuz it separated the good from the bad. Akmal and Yousaf made batting look so easy and as soon as Malik came in, you could tell how important technique was. This is why Test matches are so awesome. Also a shout out for the Pakistani bowlers. Bowled much much better than new zealanders, who overall had a good line but their balls weren't doing too much. I thought Asif wasn't given enough credit for his comeback game with 8 wickets and he should have shared some of Bond's glory, if not equal, esp after such terrible fielding. Pakistani bowling attack is definitely capable of 20 wickets as they got 27 in this match alone!

  • zulfiqar123 on November 28, 2009, 12:51 GMT

    I was surprised when pakistan announced 11 for the test as it had three front positions being occupied by the players who don't have technique, courage and will to play at international level, how can we win a test when we are going in the match with two specialist batsmen (Yousour and Umar Akmal) an all rounder (Shoaib Malik), three pacers and one spinner plus a wicket keeper and 3 fill in the balnks in Imran Farhat, Khurram Manzoor and Fawad Alam. It is a shame the affairs in cricket board are being run in such a way and PCB is playing with the sentiments of 160 million people in Pakistan and million others living in the world, who support Pakistan Cricket Team. It is time to consider and plan for future, past is past. Intikhab Alam should be sacked immediately and overall Ijaz Bhat an old ailing man and others in PCB be sacked except Javed Miandad and new faces be included in PCB. If President Zardari wants Pakistan cricket to flourish, please take the action in right direction.

  • worldorder on November 28, 2009, 13:01 GMT

    Osman, like Umar Akmal you are a class act in your own way. I hope we get more writers like you.

    As for the test match, even though we lost, the batting and bowling displays from Umar Akmal and Mohammad Aamer were a treat to watch. Also, not to forget a reborn Asif leading a young and exciting pace attack who can go places if they can stick together and not do any thing stupid. there have been enough said and not much done for fielding and opening. Let's hope and pray that we can get a gem like Umar at opening spot (Oh! Please Allah) as well. Lastly a question.

  • Percy_Fender on November 28, 2009, 13:18 GMT

    I have been watching Umar Akmal from the time he made his debut in Sri Lanka in the one dayers and have been very impressed since. I was not surprised therefore when he got a hundered on debut and played an invaluable innings in the second innings of the recent Test in New Zealand. It is most unfortunate that he was not able to lead Pakistan to victory. Umar has an excellent temperament it seems apart from a good technique as well. I think he should be batting at No3 for Pakistan in all formats of the game. That will give him the opportunity to build his confidence against quality fast bowling. It will be very interesting to see his evolvement hereon because Pakistan is touring Australia after New Zealand. That should round him up for further challenges.The Bombay technical book has been the Bible for many great batsmen for some time. But in todays game of different formats, a good batsman needs to be innovative. I think Umar has this streak as well. Let us wait and see a star rise.

  • SHARK810 on November 28, 2009, 13:25 GMT

    USA didn't defeat Vietnam. And they aren't dealing with Afghanistan or Iraq all that well. You Fail.

  • nsidd75 on November 28, 2009, 13:36 GMT

    A great talent which was a long time coming. i just hope he keeps his mind straight and keeps playing well. So refreshing to see players such players come through the turmoil of Pakistani cricket.

  • dyogesh on November 28, 2009, 13:40 GMT

    Not just Pakistan. But i wonder who was the last well-rounded teenage batsman who comes on a trip abroad and looked the part ? Perhaps, we need to go 20 years back !

  • Sjsharma on November 28, 2009, 13:40 GMT

    He stood among ruins like many greats did in their time. Umar is a gem, polished and sparkling. God bless him and his country. Nothing is more healing than a precious sportsman who rises among seniors and some batting failures. Pakistan would pamper him, cricket fans in India will cherish to watch him. Umar and his team will receive warm welcome in the world of cricket (including India).....Thank you for the innings!

  • umairhuda on November 28, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    This is one of the great article and I should appreciate Mr. Osman Samiuddin..Thanks for sharing such a great artice with us Osman.. Well as far as Omar Akmal's concern I would like to say that he has got a great potential and he has got the temprament as well. He is great future for not only for Pakistan cricket only but for world cricket as well. He has shown the class to the world.. In Pakistan there are so many Omar there but nobody is finding them at all. Omar will lead Pakistan in future and he will be a rising star for world cricket.. Amazing to watch his batting..