November 28, 2011

The riddle that is Umar Akmal

Given his talent, he ought to be the next in Pakistan's batting pantheon, but he has flattered to deceive, producing flashy shots and the occasional match-winning fifty
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Even before he had made his international appearance, Umar Akmal had the air of an accomplished cricket hero. He walked with a strut, stiffened his chest when shaking hands, and had this way of looking past you as he talked. If you didn't know better, you might assume he had won the World Cup for his country or made a double-hundred in Australia.

Although his initial performances seemed to justify this conceit, there is a growing sense that Akmal is squandering his talent. His Test average, sitting pretty at 55.50 after five matches, has trailed off to 35.82 after 16, getting him axed from the Test squad. And while his ODI and T20 numbers have held up more strongly, a habit of throwing his wicket away suggests he can do so much better.

His fluent innings of 91 in the second ODI of the recent series against Sri Lanka is emblematic of his temperament. There he was, unbeaten on 79, playing a steady hand, with Pakistan needing another 86 from 76 balls. An unbroken sixth-wicket stand was prospering with Sarfraz Ahmed. On the next three deliveries, Akmal stroked three brilliant boundaries, then sent a catch straight down the throat of mid-on. The chase faltered, and Pakistan lost.

After his dismissal Akmal refused to remove his pads, and struck a distraught pose, sitting on the pavilion steps. When TV cameras brought him into view, his eyes darted self-consciously between the camera and the stadium screen. In its own way it was a fine example of grandstanding. Umar comes from a family of seven brothers, two of whom, Kamran and Adnan, are also playing for Pakistan. They grew up in an area that is as quintessentially Lahore as Lahore can get. Grandstanding is something Akmal probably knows a thing or two about.

Had he kept his cool, Pakistan's scoreline in this series would almost certainly have read 5-0 instead of 4-1. He made amends with a match-winning 61 not out in the final ODI, but it just underscored what he is capable of. As a batsman he is technically complete, possessing the skill to play orthodox and unorthodox shots all around the wicket with equal flair and command. Seasoned observers have even compared him to a young Javed Miandad, but there is an irksome flamboyance about him that seems to be getting in the way of him realising his true potential.

The Akmals grew up in an area that is as quintessentially Lahore as Lahore can get. Grandstanding is something Umar probably knows a thing or two about

Suspicions that he might have feigned injury once or twice haven't helped his reputation. Most famously this happened after last year's Sydney Test between Australia and Pakistan, when Kamran Akmal's disastrous wicketkeeping got him the chop. Almost on cue, Umar opted out of the next game, complaining of a side strain. He did eventually play, after being talked out of what many felt was a mistaken show of solidarity with his brother.

At times he seems quite an enigma, making it difficult to get inside his head. A particularly puzzling example is his batting on the final day of the ill-fated Lord's Test between England and Pakistan last year. The spot-fixing news had exploded, and the air was thick with controversy and stigma. Pakistan, following on after collapsing for 74 in the first innings, were going through the last rites in an atmosphere that was overwhelmingly funereal. In these dying spasms, when no one could focus on cricket and wickets fell steadily at the other end, Akmal chose to smash an unbeaten 79 from 68 balls, with 11 fours and two sixes. Was it a show of defiance, an opportunity to make some quick runs, or an attempt to save face for his team? He certainly kept people guessing.

Beneath this exasperating exterior is a rich core of talent and ambition, and every now and then it expresses itself to the delight of fans and critics alike. There are, for example, his eight Man-of-the-Match awards, some of which came from efforts that left a mark - the careful 44 not out against Australia in the 2011 World Cup, made after the top order was gone; the tenacious fifty against South Africa in last year's World Twenty20; the unbeaten 102 from 72 balls against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2009, in only his third ODI. And although he has yet to win a match award in Test cricket, he did mark his Test debut, two years ago in Dunedin, with an attractive 129 and 75.

Pakistani fans are still looking for an heir to their august batting lineage, which starts with Hanif Mohammad, consolidates through Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, and Inzamam-ul-Haq, and continues in the current era with Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan. Umar Akmal has all the talent to be next in line, but so far he has shown little evidence that he grasps the art of accumulating runs or possesses the psychological secrets of longevity at the crease. He must understand that true batting greatness is not a matter of destiny but of discipline, diligence, desire, and dedication. Far more is required than just flashy shots and the occasional match-winning fifty.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on November 30, 2011, 21:14 GMT

    i want to see him in test matches to

  • on November 30, 2011, 17:42 GMT

    UMAR AKMAL is really a special talent but he seems to be miss guided......................and I DONT UNDERSTAND why he is given the batting in @5 ..or later it's almost with the tail.............. why not they move him up the order like @no.3 or 4...........

  • on November 30, 2011, 17:22 GMT

    the way Pakistan uses him is the real deal. i remember in 3rd odi when Pak were 150/0 and when first wicket fell down, Abdul Razzaq was sent it. instead Umar should have been sent because the platform was well set. when another wicket fell, YK came in, and only after Razzaq fell, Umar was sent in, by that time there were 3 down, around the same score, and then pressure got the better of Umar and he perished. he is an attacking player, and in modern cricket, players like watson, sehwag, dilshan, de villiers, all represent top order, and even raina kohli are sent at 4 or 5.

  • on November 29, 2011, 22:07 GMT

    I think Akmal has been mishandled specially in Afridi era when he was kindof playing as a hitter. His batting number is way too low for him to average higher although he has one of the best current batting averages for Pakistan ( ODI & T20). I do not know why Mr Saad seems so naive about Akmal as I believe that he is doing a wonderful job and to polish him is the responsibility of the team management. They have a gem in their hands and they are not using him properly. There has not been a greater match winner than Inzi to play for Pakistan and I think Umar should learn from him how he played in tight situations but I strongly believe that he should bat at 3. Amazing talent but misused !!!

  • on November 29, 2011, 15:40 GMT

    hope he'll do better in tests too

  • on November 29, 2011, 15:05 GMT

    No Azhar ali can't rotate strike so he should pe preserved for Tests only... Bring Fawad for test or in One day as an all rounder... He can be more useful than Malik...

  • Anwaar-Sandhu on November 29, 2011, 14:58 GMT

    averaging 39.7 in odi's..... does not seem like a real probleme for me.... u can always expect maturity with age and experience which will improve his stats. if u look at his footwork against spinners and range of shots against quickeys, this man definitely has the talent. unorthadox and silly methods of getting out???? well thats how he score his runs..... so i dont have any issue, getting out in tense situations??? well thats how i often notice that he often shifts pressure from his side to the other...... and not only makes batting easy for himself but also the non striker, but yes in such approach, u are doomed to loose the way some times and succedd on other occassions, when he is successful it looks great, but if some times not, it looks ugly.... but i dont have problem with this, u need to have 1/2 impact players who can trnsfer the pressure onto the opponents. yes a little shot selection is needed which i hope he'll do with experience. best wishes for the man!!

  • ABRAR-JANJUA on November 29, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    Simply he is aggressive player and and that was his aggression which brought Pakistan very close to victory in 2nd ODI vs Srilanka. I believe that he is good player to bat at No 3 as he plays attacking cricket and that approach can easily put the opposition under pressure. He is superb player of fast bowling as well as Spin bowling. Definitely He will take some time to get Mature. No doubt about that He is talented and enthusiastic and along career is ahead of him. Best of Luck Umer...

  • KarachiKid on November 29, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    As of now, there is nothing to convince me that he is destined for greatness. He is just a an above average batsmen with good stroke playing abilities. He is in the same league as Mohammad Hafeez (the batsmen), Asad Shafique and Azhar Ali...Dont take me wrong, all of them are good but not great. If a batsmen does not convert his 30s and 40s into 80's and 100's, then he is not a match winner. As simple as that.

  • INDIKAOPC on November 29, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    I am a Sri Lankan and was watching the entire series here in UAE. Umar is special tallent for sure.Its up to PCB to handle him in such a way that he wont loose his forcus like the other talented pakistani cricketers who promised a lot but miss guided along the way by some one and ended up sitting at home when he should have been in the middle performing well for Pakistan and winning matches. When you look at the past 20-30 years....Pakistan has produced more talented cricketrs than any other nation but where are they now? only very few has sustained and kept a place in the side. See the situation of Afridi? he retired pre matually and look at the way he perfomed in his come back...thanks to changing of the management. if the management did not changed....Afridi wouldn't have any opportunity to show his tallents. Like this so many has vanished in to thin air. Saqlain Mushtaq/ Azar Maumood are recent ones along with so many others. Even mohamed Yousuf had another two more years in him.

  • on November 30, 2011, 21:14 GMT

    i want to see him in test matches to

  • on November 30, 2011, 17:42 GMT

    UMAR AKMAL is really a special talent but he seems to be miss guided......................and I DONT UNDERSTAND why he is given the batting in @5 ..or later it's almost with the tail.............. why not they move him up the order like @no.3 or 4...........

  • on November 30, 2011, 17:22 GMT

    the way Pakistan uses him is the real deal. i remember in 3rd odi when Pak were 150/0 and when first wicket fell down, Abdul Razzaq was sent it. instead Umar should have been sent because the platform was well set. when another wicket fell, YK came in, and only after Razzaq fell, Umar was sent in, by that time there were 3 down, around the same score, and then pressure got the better of Umar and he perished. he is an attacking player, and in modern cricket, players like watson, sehwag, dilshan, de villiers, all represent top order, and even raina kohli are sent at 4 or 5.

  • on November 29, 2011, 22:07 GMT

    I think Akmal has been mishandled specially in Afridi era when he was kindof playing as a hitter. His batting number is way too low for him to average higher although he has one of the best current batting averages for Pakistan ( ODI & T20). I do not know why Mr Saad seems so naive about Akmal as I believe that he is doing a wonderful job and to polish him is the responsibility of the team management. They have a gem in their hands and they are not using him properly. There has not been a greater match winner than Inzi to play for Pakistan and I think Umar should learn from him how he played in tight situations but I strongly believe that he should bat at 3. Amazing talent but misused !!!

  • on November 29, 2011, 15:40 GMT

    hope he'll do better in tests too

  • on November 29, 2011, 15:05 GMT

    No Azhar ali can't rotate strike so he should pe preserved for Tests only... Bring Fawad for test or in One day as an all rounder... He can be more useful than Malik...

  • Anwaar-Sandhu on November 29, 2011, 14:58 GMT

    averaging 39.7 in odi's..... does not seem like a real probleme for me.... u can always expect maturity with age and experience which will improve his stats. if u look at his footwork against spinners and range of shots against quickeys, this man definitely has the talent. unorthadox and silly methods of getting out???? well thats how he score his runs..... so i dont have any issue, getting out in tense situations??? well thats how i often notice that he often shifts pressure from his side to the other...... and not only makes batting easy for himself but also the non striker, but yes in such approach, u are doomed to loose the way some times and succedd on other occassions, when he is successful it looks great, but if some times not, it looks ugly.... but i dont have problem with this, u need to have 1/2 impact players who can trnsfer the pressure onto the opponents. yes a little shot selection is needed which i hope he'll do with experience. best wishes for the man!!

  • ABRAR-JANJUA on November 29, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    Simply he is aggressive player and and that was his aggression which brought Pakistan very close to victory in 2nd ODI vs Srilanka. I believe that he is good player to bat at No 3 as he plays attacking cricket and that approach can easily put the opposition under pressure. He is superb player of fast bowling as well as Spin bowling. Definitely He will take some time to get Mature. No doubt about that He is talented and enthusiastic and along career is ahead of him. Best of Luck Umer...

  • KarachiKid on November 29, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    As of now, there is nothing to convince me that he is destined for greatness. He is just a an above average batsmen with good stroke playing abilities. He is in the same league as Mohammad Hafeez (the batsmen), Asad Shafique and Azhar Ali...Dont take me wrong, all of them are good but not great. If a batsmen does not convert his 30s and 40s into 80's and 100's, then he is not a match winner. As simple as that.

  • INDIKAOPC on November 29, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    I am a Sri Lankan and was watching the entire series here in UAE. Umar is special tallent for sure.Its up to PCB to handle him in such a way that he wont loose his forcus like the other talented pakistani cricketers who promised a lot but miss guided along the way by some one and ended up sitting at home when he should have been in the middle performing well for Pakistan and winning matches. When you look at the past 20-30 years....Pakistan has produced more talented cricketrs than any other nation but where are they now? only very few has sustained and kept a place in the side. See the situation of Afridi? he retired pre matually and look at the way he perfomed in his come back...thanks to changing of the management. if the management did not changed....Afridi wouldn't have any opportunity to show his tallents. Like this so many has vanished in to thin air. Saqlain Mushtaq/ Azar Maumood are recent ones along with so many others. Even mohamed Yousuf had another two more years in him.

  • dmqi on November 29, 2011, 9:22 GMT

    21/22 years old is not a good excuse for throwing the wicket at a critical time of the match or be too attacking, trying yo hit every ball. In two years he should have learnt better. Miandad was 20 years old once. Azhar Ali must get chance in 50 over match. There are other players who should be tried too.

  • stormy16 on November 29, 2011, 9:11 GMT

    I think the biggest issue with this guy is how PCB handle him. He is a seriously talented player and at 21 dont expect him to be Imzy. Interestingly I am sure alot of us recall Imzy's debut in the 1992 WC - wasnt really calm and collected but frenzied stroke play!! Umar has all the telent but the only question is will it be nurtured and given the opportunity to blossom. Already I see this guy in and out of the team and batting all over the place which is not the best chance. Give the guy the opportunity and have some patience he is only 21 and hugely talented.

  • Q72941 on November 29, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    The boy has been a waste at down the order with the tail. Given his repository he had to be no.3 or 4 right from the start so he can have more meaningful partnerships with genuine batsmen. The class he posses can be measured by his ability to play shots at will even under the immense pressure that gets the so called Mr. Consistency "Misbah" & Younis to bog down more often than any other genuine batsman.

    If nurtured properly away from his brother & given the right spot, he could be a brightest star to shine for a long time.

  • on November 29, 2011, 8:14 GMT

    the occasional match-winning fifty........ most suited........

  • on November 29, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    Yes, Umer Akmal has more talent than any other new batsman. He just need to stay on the wicket and need to improve his shot selection. His ODI average is better than other batsman playing in the team except Misbah. He is surly future's Pakistani match winner and has capability to handled the pressure. Good Luck for Umer Akmal...

  • mars2009 on November 29, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    He started as new Javed Miandad but right now he is Mohammed Asraful of Pakistan.

  • yeh_cheezzz on November 29, 2011, 4:52 GMT

    @mrmonty I am always in favor of Misbah.. I don't understand why people think of two matches that Misbah was involved in and not where he went and win matches for Pakistan... The team consist off 11players not 1 and just look at his role here Pakistan's batting is fragile with Abdur Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal there is a need of someone who is occupying the crease from one end... we have seen so many times what happens when Misbah goes out and other follows him in quick session... With Umar he is continuously impressing me with the bat with his aggression in the batting... and his fielding should not be written off.. he is brilliant in the field...

  • AnwarIsAlwaysShine on November 29, 2011, 2:23 GMT

    I think he does have talent but he should play in the one day team only - as a wicketkeeper and opener as his brother did. He could then be considered for the test team as he becomes more experienced. Temperament however is the essential quality that a batsman needs. It's no coincidence that the fortunes of the test team have improved since the departure of 'talented' players such as Butt, Asif, Amir and Kamran & Umar Akmal. Now we have hard working players with good temperament who are willing to graft an inninngs and not give thier wickets away - players such as Azhar Ali, Younis, Misbah and Shafiq have shown that even though we have a longer tail, all of a sudden we can bat for a day and score more than 300 runs consistently - amazing. Umar is not in this category yet and for this reason I think that both Shafiq and Fawad deserve to be tried in tests ahead of him. The test team should be: Hafeez Taufeeq, Azhar Ali,Younis,Misbah,Shafiq, Adnan, Ajmal,Riaz,Gul and Junaid Khan..

  • rienzied on November 29, 2011, 1:13 GMT

    What do you expect with all the turmoil he has had to put up with the team and his borther Kamran. He is a great talent. I see Misbah as a wonderful influence on him as Missy leads by example. However Umar, has to work on his concentration and mental toughness, especially when he passes 50. Like the great players , he must make the BIG 100 or the under pressure 100 to get him going. Stick with him but he needs a good influence guiding him

  • on November 29, 2011, 0:40 GMT

    Errrr this guy is 21, focus on thenegatives to iron them ocoach him to become better, not to expect miracles at that age. He is still in that adolesent age where he feels what he has to do needs to look good. Just needs to learn sometimes the flashy approach isnt the best way to go. Encourage dont discourage

  • mrmonty on November 28, 2011, 22:23 GMT

    For heaven's sake, he is 21 years old and 2 years of cricket behind him. Why isn't such scorn heaped on Misbah (glorious role in losing to India is WC Semis) and Afridi (if he isn't reckless with batting, I don't know who is)? Why is this article full of insinuations? It is just like saying Virender Sehwag is reckless and grandstanding. And, Gilchrist, too.

  • on November 28, 2011, 20:59 GMT

    After his dismissal Akmal refused to remove his pads, and struck a distraught pose, sitting on the pavilion steps. When TV cameras brought him into view, his eyes darted self-consciously between the camera and the stadium screen.

    we know that he didnt remove his pads because he wanted to act the part of the victim -- its all about the image -- and he wanted to be seen as upset and one that was saddened that he got out -- BS --- Umar Akmal is as reliable as Shahid Afridi -- Go figure -- Afridi however, brings fielding, bowling and the day he fires will set u up with a chance to win-- Umar Akmal brings nothing but false hope --- Asad Shafiq should be given a fair run -- he gets starts ands looks composed everytime he comes out to bat. Further, Where is Azhar Ali? Your most consistent Test Batsman in the last year or so and he cant make it in the ODI side? hahaha we dont have the batting of India or RSA and Azhar Ali can bat

  • Desihungama on November 28, 2011, 19:48 GMT

    I am sorry to say but Umar Akmal did not grow up watching Haneef Mohammad or Zaheer Abbas but the likes of Afridi, Imran Nazir and other rash stroke players. We Pakistanis are always looking to emulate our heroes. So, this is what you get on the field. Rameez Raja Jr. is another waiting in the wings. Your exceptions are Azhar Ali, Asad Shafique, and I must say Asim Kamaal.

  • LeftBrain on November 28, 2011, 19:42 GMT

    @Wahaj Hashmi, Asad is, in my views, as good as Umer Akmal. But you have to understand the basic difference here, he is never ever classified as extra ordinary or super talent. Similarly Azhar Ali or any other youngster belongs to the same group of decent enough to represent Pakistan, but in no way an extra ordinary talent unless they prove it. The hype created for Umer Akmal is far more then the rest and this is why we need to make a clear outline of his class, that is, he is as good as Asad or Azhar or Fawad or may be Umer Amin. I can go as far as Azim Ghumman and other youngsters. Akmal is not above the rest simply because he hasnt proved it yet.

  • on November 28, 2011, 19:10 GMT

    its gonna take some time and fortunately he has got a bit too. he is gonna take inzamam' spots as the match finisher which is currently held by both afridi and razzaq for ome reason. Inshallah he is gonna meke name for himself and Pakistan he is still young let him have a bit of fun ;)

  • on November 28, 2011, 19:06 GMT

    @Leftbrain: yeah i totally agree with your point. I met umar akmal last month and asked him about the problem in the domestic season he said that the seniors are backing him up to play his shots all the time and thats the benefit of being young ... thats what afridi and other guy told him that just play as he likes at the moment cause there are fair amount of players who can take responsibility (younas, misbah, hafeez etc). He said that he'e gonna go with his natural game which i to attack and when the team demanded to become more of a match maker he'll start working on that. We should unerstand that he is still 21 or 22 yer of age and have a lot to offer so be patient he is a committed guy and does lot of hardwork in the nets and gym. Don't forget that we are running out of time to build match winners cause afridi nd razzaq arent gonna be around for much longer now and as we saw afrii finished the t20 they are probbly thinking of making him a proper match finisher

  • on November 28, 2011, 19:00 GMT

    @LeftBrain - You make some interesting points. If I may, what happens to be your say on Asad Shafiq, if you've followed him at all?

  • eikbal on November 28, 2011, 18:29 GMT

    @ Asif Shaffi, your're absolutely correct when you say that Umar should always be batting at NUMBER 3 and that he is not been used properly. Thanks you for your deep understanding of the game which unfortunately doesn't seem to matter within pak team management.

  • on November 28, 2011, 18:09 GMT

    Anshul must know the over all record of Pakistan Vs. India. Pakistan is always dominent. Indian always avoid Pakistan. If not then why not a series in UAE.

  • SulT29 on November 28, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    Umar is highly unreliable. Cannot be trusted to finish the game off but can deliver deadly blows up the order. With his correct technique I am surprised they have not opened up with him yet. He can certainly replace imran farhat who is completely useless in pressure situations

  • on November 28, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    Yeah! Umar Akmal is yet to prove against India who are able to beat Pakistan in any format. I'll give him and Pakistan the benefit of doubt and be patient for long as it takes India to catch up with the overall wins Pakistan has.

  • LeftBrain on November 28, 2011, 17:21 GMT

    @Anushul Tripathi: This article is about a young Pakistani player, it has nothing to do with Pakistan's succes against India (you are mistakenly thinking it is otherway round!!) Just to refresh your memory let me remind you of the facts here. Tests played between 2 countries: 60 - Pakistan won: 12 - India won: 9 (Win ratio Pakistan 1.33: India 1) ODI played between 2 countries: 125 - Pakistan won: 69 - India won: 47 (Win ratio Pakistan 1.47: India 1) T20 played between 2 countries: 2 - Pakistan won: 0 - India won: 1 (Too indignificant numbers to form any ratio) Hope all is well in India after Eng thrashing!!

  • LeftBrain on November 28, 2011, 17:09 GMT

    @Abdullah Bin Zafar- Fair enough, you make sense, and this is exactly what I meant. When I dis-agree to the notion that he is super talented, I take into account all the ingrediants that make an ordinary player a great one. In the article Saad suggested that he is in line with becoming a great like of Hanif or Javed. Their talent included Batting genius, an eye for the situation, an eye for the weak link in opposition, a hunger for accumulation, and above all, an ability to finish the business. These ingrediants combined make you a great batsman, and these ingrediants combined can be called a great talent. If Umer Akmal lacks in 4 out of 5 qualities, it simply means he doesnt have extra ordinary talent. Just smashing the ball hard is some thing a baseball player can do as well. But he wont become a cricket legend just because of this ability, he will have to master the art completely. Thats my whole point. Unless and until he proves it consistently, he will remain an ordinary player.

  • on November 28, 2011, 16:55 GMT

    @leftbrain: im not trying to compare anyone here but kallis in his fisrt 20 odd matches had an average of less thn 37.

  • on November 28, 2011, 16:34 GMT

    i think he has yet to prove against india who are able to beat pakistan easily in any format.

  • on November 28, 2011, 15:31 GMT

    it all about how you use the talent in the right way and i can assure you that umar akmal is bubbling with talent and energy let him settle down he is still very young

  • on November 28, 2011, 15:29 GMT

    @LeftBrain: super talented means like he can hit sixes to the likes of mitchell jhonson and tait's pace while on to the leg side while sitting (world cup t20 2010 semi). you can ee his rive to brett lee on youtube name bullet drive its pure talent. I my self m a professional cricketer and it is a case that super talent thing. Like imran nazir he has the talent but was never able to how it .... talent is these guys can watch bowl better then a normal cricketer when it comes to the bat as simple as that, rest is upto them what they do with it. same was Inzamam he had the same eye and he delivered no one hit sixes to fast bowlers like he did viv richards is a finest example.. same in the bowling like Shoaib akhtar thats super talent being able to bowl upto 150kph at regular intervals is talent. Its not that only achieving greatness is called talent its another story altogether like imran khn says he was never talented he worked hard and hard to make him elf the top allrounder.

  • TaylorSwift on November 28, 2011, 15:17 GMT

    Well written, Saad. Umar Akmal is an extremely talented batsman and management must persist with him in all three formats. He should bat between Younis and Misbah at no. 5 in Tests. In ODIs, he should bat at no. 4 and Younis should call it quits. In addition, a season of County Cricket would help him evolve as a batsman. He is only 21 and a significant component of Pakistan's batting future alongside Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Ramiz Raja Jr., Usman Salahuddin and Fawad Alam.

  • LeftBrain on November 28, 2011, 14:50 GMT

    This assumption that Umar Akmal is super talented, (and I am not pickimng on him, it applies on any other player like him) is, in my opinion, the root cause of the disasters these "super talented" players becomes. I totally dis-agree that this kind is super-talented, if it is not showing in results, if it is not serving any good to the payer or his team, it simply means the player is not talented at all. At best it can be called fluke. It was this same fluke that made Nirendar Harwani, Mohammad Zahid, Harbhajan Singh, Mike Getting, Graham Gooch, Vinod Kambli, Saleem Malik stars in their eras, same fluke made Umar Akmal star., If he fails to translate those one-off scores in to some consistent performances,it simply means he doesnt have talent. Stop guessing about ordinary players being "super-talented"

  • on November 28, 2011, 14:06 GMT

    yeah m too in favour of promoting U.Akmal upto the order at position 4...

  • Crazy4cricket40 on November 28, 2011, 13:46 GMT

    @ Hasan999: Agree with u that other batsmen did not do anything so he is not the only one to be blammed. However after bringing this close and knowing there is no other batsmen left after him, the shot he played was not acceptable. Specially after scoring three cons. boundaries and bringing req run rate just under 6, he should have played smart cricket. Not to forget that ball was the last of the over. Any smart finisher would have take single on that ball. Not taking credit away the way he batted and scored 91 but I will have to agree with writer that if he had kept his head cool. it would be definately 5-0.

  • on November 28, 2011, 11:17 GMT

    He got everything a Powerful batsman needs, He got Power in hands so much so that he can swing his bat to make it a six any stage of the game, he got sweep shots, he got off-side shots over the cover position, he reverse sweeps pretty well, he is powerful on pull. He just need to take responsibilities, he need to think him as a significant figure for the team, since Younis Khan and Misbah are going to go in coming years. This bright talent, Umar Akmal, Can be a great new batsman having everything thing in his abilities. He lacks MIND!! :P

  • on November 28, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    I totally agree with Jimbond

  • on November 28, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    it is really important to bring umar akmal up the order to extract the most out of him. Number six is clearly not the position which can help. I would prefer number 4 for him.

  • Stark62 on November 28, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    The best position for him to bat at is no. 3!

    He should bat there for all formats including Tests is well because if he gets going then, the new ball will have been negated by his hitting.

    I hope he is given a chance at no. 3 because he was wonderful in the T20's at that position.

  • on November 28, 2011, 9:48 GMT

    Umar Akmal is the only one to fill the steps of Inzamam in this whole line-up. I love his audacious batting. Just needs to be given more confidence like Pietersen. He is a true test batsman. Selectors are surely stereotyping here.

  • rawjns on November 28, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    he is definately talented and a future prospect for Pakistan, I hope PCB manages him correctly. Asad Shafiq is another one talent with tempermant I hope he could be the next Zaheer Abbas, we have forhotten Fawwad Alam who has shown lots of heart in his test debut but was not managed properly makin him play down the order, he is averaging 81 + and the 2nd highest runs in the domestic season this year.

  • hanmernu on November 28, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    At the end of carrer too great batsman plays flashy shots in panic situations....so no one can blame a young cricketer to commit such mistake in a start of his career. He is a composed player and he should be promoted up the order to lift his batting.At the age of 19 hitting the great Muttaih striaght over for two sixes means he got a plenty of talent and two get out that talent he should be battiing at 3 or 4...

  • Hasan999 on November 28, 2011, 9:30 GMT

    He cannot be blamed for the 4-1 (instead of 5-0) ! - Second ODI, he scored 91, while the second highest was only 29 ! - Definitely, it was not easy to bat under such environment and pressure, let alone cruising to 91 for the team and crowds. If he gave away his wicket, then tell me, who else didn't ? - I am pretty sure there were 10 other batsmen in the team. Akmal's efforts were outstanding, it was the the 'team' that it is a 4-1 and not 5-0.

  • on November 28, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    Asad Shafiq is another very talented batsman from Pakistan and has the potential to be the next Javed Miandad for Pakistan.

  • thePakistanian on November 28, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    I think Younis should give his ODI place now as he has given up T20 & just become a Test player & the slot at 4/5 should be allocated to Umar Akmal! I love Younis as a player & cricketer & mostly cuz hes the most Selfless player in team ever. But I prefer Azhar Ali now to be given chance at his place. &even if Azhar will have 33 of average(I hope its 40-45 +), its good to have a 25-26 year old there rather a 37 & the way Azhar has shaped his TEST career, he's on of the best ones & is exceptionally consistant. Back to Umar, I think untill Younis is there at 4, instead of Misbah @ 5 & Umar @ 6 we need to sandwich him in between them; @ 5! & if possible this lineup is very much the best in every aspect (& I don't want to add all the great performers of Quaid e AzamTrophy, as everyone keep bringing new & new names, I think we already have found so many that now we just need to polish & place them): Hafeez,(unfortunately)Farhat,Azhar Ali,Asad Shafiq,Umar Akmal(Wk),Misbah(Cap),AFRIDI etc...

  • on November 28, 2011, 8:54 GMT

    He has the potential to be one of the greatest batsmen of all time. He can be as destructive as Sehwag if promoted to open the innings, but he should be persisted if given an opportunity to open the innings. He has more shots than any of the mentioned greats of Pakistan and has the potential to achieve the heights Brian Lara achieved in the recent times. But Pakistan never make full use of potential of a player. He has all the strokes of Sachin Tendulkar and plays some cheeky ones played by Miandad. He can be one of the greatest batsmen of all time the world has ever seen and the greatest from the subcontinent if Pakistan team management supports and nurture him properly and he also learn some lessons from the greats with whom he is being compared to.

  • on November 28, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    Umar Akmal is very talented, but it is annoying that we completely ignore others. There is one talented youngster already capable of nearing our former legends Saeed Anwar, Javed Minadad, Inzamam or Yusuf, and he's none other than Asad Shafiq. The funny thing though, is the very annoying fact that he's extremely under-hyped and under-rated. Why in the hell is he not even a permanent fixture of the XI is beyond me. The think tanks are certainly not doing this thing right.

  • jimbond on November 28, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    I remember equally if not more talented youngsters- Salim Malik, and Qasim Omar, who never quite justified their talent over their careers. In the case of Umar Akmal, one senses the wrong influence of his elder brother which has distracted Umar from cricket into politicking. If the team wants to nurture his talent, they need to keep Kamran as far away as possible from the national team.

  • AtifFazal11 on November 28, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    I think no one should ever doubt Umar Akmal's talent. The problem is his temperament to play long innings. The team management should play him at no. 4(One days) and give him the responsibility to anchor the innings. Thats the only way hes going to learn. If he doesn't perform drop him, not make him play at no. 6 as a hitter or a make-shift wicketkeeper.

  • on November 28, 2011, 8:19 GMT

    he is now in the queue where talent does'nt matter...but what to do with talent that matters..means from now on his work ethics,passion to perform and more than talent its attitude that counts far more better.. rohit sharma is also 1 example of it..have enormous talent but his being casual about cricket...have caused raina prefer over it...means these two are the goin to be legends if they have attitude to play jst cricket.. dats why tendulkar,miandad,dravid,akram,gavaskar,mcgrath ndd shane warne are greats...even after reaching the height the above player continue to work hard......passion to perform after reaching on the top..!!

  • on November 28, 2011, 7:58 GMT

    abe he's just 21 with 2 years of international cricket. Pakistanis tend to forget batsmen aren't like bowlers, batsman age like wine, Younis for eg, was also impetuous during the start of his career. As Umar keeps playing he'll mature, his shot selections will get better and his technique will grow tighter. Umar Akmal has incredible ability, not just in slogging ala Imran Nazir, and confidence, he will be among the best batters of his generation by the end of his career

  • Kazimabidi on November 28, 2011, 7:09 GMT

    Well written Saad Shafqat... temprament is always the key that separates just talented from greatness... Should have mentioned Saeed Anwar as well in the august batting group of Pak greats..

  • on November 28, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Promising player, need to control his nerves.

  • Haider on November 28, 2011, 6:46 GMT

    i agree umar akmal is talented and posses the talent to be a great batsmen however I partly blame the team management (coaches/selectors) on their insistance of making umar akmal bat at number 5 or 6. in most matches this means umar needs to score quickly and hence tends to throw away his wicket. Umar needs to be given more responsibility, he is not a pinch hitter ala razzaq / afridi, he is a batsmen. He should be promoted up the order to number 3 or 4. Umar reminds me of a young ricky ponting and I believe he has the talent to be as big as a batsmen as ricky is (or was).

  • iphone1 on November 28, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    He is very hyped like his elder brother was. I will not be surprised to see him (Umar) disappear of the circuit in another 1-2 years !!!

  • on November 28, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    As usual the respected writers like all the others forgets Misbah-ul-Haq in the great lineage of Pakistani batsman. Umar Akmal certainly belongs to the list however he has to claim it.

  • suhaibj on November 28, 2011, 6:07 GMT

    I really enjoy Mr. Shafqat's articles... the one about Imran and Miandad's relationship is one of the most intriguing pieces I have ever read. However, I do feel that Umar has two problems, one of which most people, including the writer of this article, have some share in:

    1. We constantly try to compare him with Miandad and Inzi. " Umar Akmal has all the talent to be next in line"... we should simply not take his name with all these greats. He is still very young... and quite a showboat... he gestures to the crowd after every catch. So let's stop telling him how great he is, and like most of this article, tell him that he is ordinary until he does not get the big scores.

    2. Umar is made to play at number 6 these days in Tests, where you mostly have to play with the tail-enders. I wish there was a way he could be brought up to at least number 4, or may be even open with Hafeez. It will give him more of an opportunity to settle in and get big scores.

  • on November 28, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    Is he been used properly? He is not a finisher and hence should not be sent at number 5 or 6. He is a specialist one down batsman and should be utilized like that. At 5/6 you hardly get opportunities to score big in ODIs. He is by the far the best batting talent coming out of Pakistan in the last 10 years or so, don't make him a utility player by asking him to KEEP instead make him number 3 in all the formats and give him responsibility to build an innings.

  • haqster499 on November 28, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    Ala Javed Miandad, Umar needs a season or two for a county in England. The ball seams there more and it makes you a technically better player. A young Miandad was just like this in the late 70s and 80s and a few years at Glamorgan changed all that. Umar needs to learn not to gift his wicket away and we all remember the shot he played against India in the C semi. PCB needs to invest in him and develop him Good article Saad...

  • kamran.afzal on November 28, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    Nice article Saad, though I have a serious disagreement when you leave out Saeed Anwar from the list of distinguished Pakistani batsmen. Agreed that his numbers may not stand tall and mighty against some of the other batsmen mentioned, but he was for the longest time Pakistan's best batsmen (even when Inzamam was in the team)...

  • chsj on November 28, 2011, 5:32 GMT

    Umar Akmal is destined for greatness, he is surely one of the best current batsmen. Obviously the turmoil Pak cricket has been going through could have affected him a little; but his class will shine through once Pak team goes on to play regularly and with a steady captain; just noone should tinker with his selection.

  • LillianThomson on November 28, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    I'm not convinced that Umar Akmal is intelligent enough to succeed as an international cricketer. Like his brothers, he shows no interest in the history of the game, which means that he cannot read a game as he plays in it. His shot-selection cannot improve until he starts to understand the game he is playing.

  • Joji_ on November 28, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    Very well said Mr Shafqat. My professor once said, a talented person may achieve success, a hardworking person will definitely achieve success, a talented and hardworking will definitely achieve great success. I hope Umer Akmal understands the responsibilities and requirements of being great. This is what differentiates between good and greats.

  • getsetgopk on November 28, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    Yea he's a good player has a more than decent technique to play both spin and pace bowling, has shown signs of flair aggression and has demonstrated calmness at times but when i see his innings in that final T20 against sri lanka in dubai first ball and he was shuffling up and down and got bowled out his termprament looked worse than Afridis a couple of years ago and makes you wonder just what the heck he was thinking doing that while he hasn't yet faced the first ball? but as you rightly put it hes a real RIDDLE and no one knows what goes through his mind at certain stages. he needs to cool down a bit. nothings wrong with his technique he is an amazing stroke maker just needs to control his aggression a bit but i think with time he will get his control just like afridi has.

  • on November 28, 2011, 4:43 GMT

    The perfect finishing lines: "Umar Akmal has all the talent to be next in line, but so far he has shown little evidence that he grasps the art of accumulating runs or possesses the psychological secrets of longevity at the crease. He must understand that true batting greatness is not a matter of destiny but of discipline, diligence, desire, and dedication. Far more is required than just flashy shots and the occasional match-winning fifty."

    U. Akmal has all what it takes to excel at international arena, but he seriously lacks temperament & that may cut short his promising career.

  • on November 28, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    Umar Akmal is one of the most dangerous batsman whn he gets control over his nerves!!he started his career in an extraordinary fashion,hit malinga straight for a six left everyone shocked!!but after tht,he didnt do well enough to cement his place in the playing eleven regularly..he is back now with a couple of impressive performances and i wish him best of luck!!

  • Percy_Fender on November 28, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    Some years ago there was one Basit Ali. He was no less talented than Umar Akmal. But he fizzled out after a short run at the top. Now he was so much like Javed Miandad in every sense of the word. He had the cricketing wisdom as well. I think the politics in Pak cricket de-motivated him. Umar is a good player on subcontinent wickets and will do well at most places with some exposeure. But he is no Javed and he never will be. If he disciplines himself and curbs his ego, he could be quite useful for Pakistan. The thing is it is difficult to curb grandstanding once one is made to believe one is a superstar.

  • Zahidsaltin on November 28, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    A fine article. Umar Akmal is no doubt very talented and there is a touch of rush in his batting a la afridi. I think it's something to do with his age too. He is only 21 and the batting maturity comes at different ages for different people. He is sure an entertainer. Speaking of talent, I would like to name Usman Salahuddin who seems to be the next big thing to replace some legend. Not only his big scores and taste for centuries, but his technique is so composed and complete that PCB should have put him to the same pool which Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal are in. It is so wrong of PCB to not getting Usman and Hammad Azzam on board for Bangladesh. One other thing I would like convey through Saads article is, that PCB should think about switching Sarfraz and Adnan Akmal from test team to odi team and vis versa. Where as Sarfraz is a batsman who would like to build his innings and is misfit to come in slog overs in ODIs, Adnan is genetically more suited to turbo charged style.

  • Tendulkars_Tennis_Elbow on November 28, 2011, 4:19 GMT

    could've just said that he is the Pakistani Rohit Sharma then :) nice piece Saad. does bring out the frustration of the fan when one sees undoubted talent being wasted in grandstanding/playing one stroke too many.

  • faizh on November 28, 2011, 4:12 GMT

    One thing I have noticed in Umar Akmal is lack of coaching. He knows all the shots but he does not know how to build innings. Very impulsive player. What he and all young Pakis batsmen need is coaching on innings building and seasoning. Ofcourse I am not a cricketer but stayed at Holiday Inn:)

  • on November 28, 2011, 3:39 GMT

    Completely disagree with you Mr Shafqat, you are completely mis reading the situation....you do realize that he is only 21...apart from how horribly the team strategists are handling him by sending him at number 6 instead of 4 and have him perpetually batting under pressure .....one must also realize that batsmanship is a mature art and for most comes with experience and age not every one is born to tackle the mental pressures of it right away....which is why Tendulkar is so far ahead of the rest of the pack...basically he was batting like Kallis and Pointing did at 27 when he was 20.

  • Y2SJ on November 28, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    Just to mention Kamran Akmal in the same sentence with Inzamam, Mhd Yusuf, Younis Khan is blasphemous.

  • on November 28, 2011, 2:50 GMT

    He does that compare to others who don't. He has ODI average of 39, and is currently the highest ranked player in ODIs and Twenty20 from Pakistan. I think the problem is too much hatred towards him because of his brother and some of the antics. The great Younis Khan has an average of 32, and has never been closed to top of ODI ranking. I agree Umar Akmal has flaws, but this is too much.

  • bcl4ever on November 28, 2011, 2:34 GMT

    You quoted some terrific Pak batsmen but also include Salim Malik and Saeed Anwar as well. All world class wonderful to watch performers but perhaps consider Javed Maindad as being the only genuinely great batsmen Pakistan has produced thus far.

  • on November 28, 2011, 2:33 GMT

    Very Nicely Written, Hats off Sir!

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  • on November 28, 2011, 2:33 GMT

    Very Nicely Written, Hats off Sir!

  • bcl4ever on November 28, 2011, 2:34 GMT

    You quoted some terrific Pak batsmen but also include Salim Malik and Saeed Anwar as well. All world class wonderful to watch performers but perhaps consider Javed Maindad as being the only genuinely great batsmen Pakistan has produced thus far.

  • on November 28, 2011, 2:50 GMT

    He does that compare to others who don't. He has ODI average of 39, and is currently the highest ranked player in ODIs and Twenty20 from Pakistan. I think the problem is too much hatred towards him because of his brother and some of the antics. The great Younis Khan has an average of 32, and has never been closed to top of ODI ranking. I agree Umar Akmal has flaws, but this is too much.

  • Y2SJ on November 28, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    Just to mention Kamran Akmal in the same sentence with Inzamam, Mhd Yusuf, Younis Khan is blasphemous.

  • on November 28, 2011, 3:39 GMT

    Completely disagree with you Mr Shafqat, you are completely mis reading the situation....you do realize that he is only 21...apart from how horribly the team strategists are handling him by sending him at number 6 instead of 4 and have him perpetually batting under pressure .....one must also realize that batsmanship is a mature art and for most comes with experience and age not every one is born to tackle the mental pressures of it right away....which is why Tendulkar is so far ahead of the rest of the pack...basically he was batting like Kallis and Pointing did at 27 when he was 20.

  • faizh on November 28, 2011, 4:12 GMT

    One thing I have noticed in Umar Akmal is lack of coaching. He knows all the shots but he does not know how to build innings. Very impulsive player. What he and all young Pakis batsmen need is coaching on innings building and seasoning. Ofcourse I am not a cricketer but stayed at Holiday Inn:)

  • Tendulkars_Tennis_Elbow on November 28, 2011, 4:19 GMT

    could've just said that he is the Pakistani Rohit Sharma then :) nice piece Saad. does bring out the frustration of the fan when one sees undoubted talent being wasted in grandstanding/playing one stroke too many.

  • Zahidsaltin on November 28, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    A fine article. Umar Akmal is no doubt very talented and there is a touch of rush in his batting a la afridi. I think it's something to do with his age too. He is only 21 and the batting maturity comes at different ages for different people. He is sure an entertainer. Speaking of talent, I would like to name Usman Salahuddin who seems to be the next big thing to replace some legend. Not only his big scores and taste for centuries, but his technique is so composed and complete that PCB should have put him to the same pool which Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal are in. It is so wrong of PCB to not getting Usman and Hammad Azzam on board for Bangladesh. One other thing I would like convey through Saads article is, that PCB should think about switching Sarfraz and Adnan Akmal from test team to odi team and vis versa. Where as Sarfraz is a batsman who would like to build his innings and is misfit to come in slog overs in ODIs, Adnan is genetically more suited to turbo charged style.

  • Percy_Fender on November 28, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    Some years ago there was one Basit Ali. He was no less talented than Umar Akmal. But he fizzled out after a short run at the top. Now he was so much like Javed Miandad in every sense of the word. He had the cricketing wisdom as well. I think the politics in Pak cricket de-motivated him. Umar is a good player on subcontinent wickets and will do well at most places with some exposeure. But he is no Javed and he never will be. If he disciplines himself and curbs his ego, he could be quite useful for Pakistan. The thing is it is difficult to curb grandstanding once one is made to believe one is a superstar.

  • on November 28, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    Umar Akmal is one of the most dangerous batsman whn he gets control over his nerves!!he started his career in an extraordinary fashion,hit malinga straight for a six left everyone shocked!!but after tht,he didnt do well enough to cement his place in the playing eleven regularly..he is back now with a couple of impressive performances and i wish him best of luck!!