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'You can't fight with people every day to convince them'

Kamran Akmal talks about being relegated to the fringe, and life after Sydney

Interview by Umar Farooq

April 16, 2013

Comments: 42 | Text size: A | A

Kamran Akmal looks dejected after dropping Peter Siddle, Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Sydney, 4th day, January 6, 2010
Kamran Akmal thinks the 2010 Sydney Test changed his career © Getty Images
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Do you count how many catches you've dropped?
The media does. They love doing it. [Laughs]

Dropping one always puts extra pressure, so you quickly have to bring yourself back into the game and think ahead instead of counting or remembering them. But at the start of the day you never want to drop any chances.

Did you always want to be a keeper?
Yes, I chose it myself after everyone around me at my club [Cricket Centre] encouraged me to do so. I started keeping wicket around the age of 13-14. I played my first international fixture for Pakistan Under-15 against Australia in England as a wicketkeeper-batsman.

What's it like being a wicketkeeper?
There was a time when wicketkeeping was perceived as a thankless job. But, especially after 2000, I think the role of a wicketkeeper was extended with players like [Adam] Gilchrist and [Mark] Boucher, who have taken the role to a different height. Now a wicketkeeper is one of the most important players in the team.

It's not about just keeping, he needs to motivate the team, and he is a symbol of energy. He is the one who remains on his toes every single ball and talks to the bowler with his eyes without losing his own concentration. And he has another role to play as a batsman.

You last played Test cricket back in 2010. Do you miss it?
I am missing it because it's the format that gives you ample time to express yourself and your abilities. I am enjoying playing limited-overs series but there is always a sense of emptiness without playing Test cricket. I have delivered in the past in the format and I'm eager to do it again, but it's a decision the selectors have to make. I was actually dropped and I know the place is still unsettled.

You have a better batting average than some of the finest former wicketkeepers in Pakistan.
I think for a wicketkeeper-batsman, the batting average must be around 30 to 35. I have dropped my average after 2011 and it's mainly because of the fluctuations in the batting order. It's easy to maintain your average once you play a certain number of Tests for at least one complete year.

The selectors say there is no real competitor at the domestic level to replace you in limited-overs. Many wicketkeepers have been tried after 2010 but none have settled in.
Like I said before, the role of a wicketkeeper has extended now. The selectors are looking at picking a batsman-wicketkeeper, and maybe they think I am the one who can live up to their expectations. But obviously a day will come when I will call it a day and someone will be ready to take my place.

It's always tricky to replace a senior player in the team. Some ten years back I took over from Rashid [Latif] and Moin bhai [Khan]. I had to work extra hard to step into their shoes.

Is there anyone around who is a threat to your place?
It's my brother Adnan who I am afraid of. He has shown glimpses of being a good wicketkeeper-batsman.

Does the Sydney Test still haunt you?
I think it somehow changed the direction of my career. I was pushed back and it's like starting my career again. I always insisted that it was purely a day of bad luck, and it can happen with every player, any day, any time, in any match. It was surely among the worst days of my career - nothing I did was going my way. I crumbled under pressure.

Can you share with us how it felt then?
I had a sense of loneliness, and those missed chances were uppermost in my head. Obviously everyone was disappointed. I was disappointed because we had a great chance to beat Australia on their home soil. In such a scenario, you want the day to pass as quick as possible so that you can start a fresh day with a fresh state of mind, leaving the bad day behind.

"My family and cricket board know I am clean and that's what matters. It's a culture here - people believe what they hear, and things spread. Nobody is guilty until proven guilty, so if anyone has any proof against me, come up"

Is that the biggest regret of your cricket career so far?
It is. I always wish I could go back in the past to change it but it's something you have to take with you throughout your life. It really shook my confidence.

There has been plenty of whispering about match-fixing related to you.
Nothing has been proved against me ever, and I am here representing my country. My family and cricket board know I am clean and that's what matters. It's a culture here - people believe what they hear, and things spread. Nobody is guilty until proven guilty, so if anyone has any proof against me, come up.

I chose cricket, I worked hard in the blazing sun to get to the top. I can't think about getting mixed up in match-fixing stuff. I am loyal to my profession and my country. Representing Pakistan is the greatest feat I have achieved. I only urge fans to please respect players and let them concentrate on their cricket.

These stories are probably the reason your career is in the shadows?
Look, there are certain things that are beyond my control. It took my whole life to build a reputation, but such allegations affect your career in seconds. I have played more than 50 Test matches, nearly 150 ODIs so far, and if my body allows me I can play for five to six more years. The only thing I can do is play hard and perform for the team. Disappointment is there in a corner of the heart, but then that's life and you have to live with it. You can't fight with people every day to convince them.

You have played some memorable match-winning innings for Pakistan, like in Mohali, Karachi, Kolkata
These were the finest innings of my career but I want to win more matches for the country. I don't need to prove anything to anyone as I have delivered on so many occasions, and it shows that I have the ability. Obviously you learn every day and improve yourself. I had a good South Africa series and playing up the order really helped me regain my confidence.

Who is the best bowler you have kept to in international cricket?
I enjoyed keeping to Danish Kaneria, but I started having difficulties collecting against him. Collecting off a legspinner is ideal, since the ball spins away from the batsman outside off, with a clear view for the keeper. But after the Australia tour [2009-10], my confidence was shaken. Still, Kaneria was one of the best men to keep to.

How about collecting off Saeed Ajmal? Does he signal before bowling a doosra?
Not at all. I never had a problem reading him. The good thing about Ajmal is his length. I know he won't be bowling a bad ball. But I have to be extra careful while keeping to him because most of his deliveries have the potential to take a wicket. So I am always watchful.

Do you sledge from behind the stumps?
Not really. I prefer focusing on my wicketkeeping and avoid talking too much. I and Ishant [Sharma] had an altercation once, but that was in the heat of the moment. Otherwise we are good friends.

How do you want to be remembered?
It's a matter purely in god's hands. I have worked very hard in life, but especially after the Sydney Test life became difficult and I had to start from scratch amid false allegations. Eventually your hard work pays off.

I want to go down in history as a successful player.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by zarasochozarasamjho on (April 18, 2013, 9:34 GMT)

Both Umar Farooq and Kamran Akmal do not really understand the importance of wicket-keeping, given the questions posed and the answers given. Wicket-keeping has been, is, and will always be the most important cricketing function. As a wicket-keeper, you have to be an expert which Kamran Akmal is clearly not. Any thing else is SECONDARY. International cricketers expect their wicketkeepers to be able to bat as well; this does NOT suggest that it is okay to be a poor wicketkeeper. To repeat what Ian Chapell said: Even if Kamran batted like Bradman, I wouldn't play him as a keeper. This couldn't be clearer. If I was a selector, I would never include Kamran in tests. He is, given Pakistan's lack of batsment, good enough to play limited-overs cricket, but not as a wicket-keeper. NO, SIR, NO!!!! Another thing; as a Pakistani supporter it dismays me when the pet answer given is that any body can have a bad day. True enough! but not to that extent such as in Sydney and not as often.

Posted by Shazia_Javed on (April 18, 2013, 9:13 GMT)

One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post... his batting avg. in last 14 Test match innings is 11.8...

Posted by   on (April 17, 2013, 22:57 GMT)

Kamran Akmal is a match winner. If you see him bat you can tell immediately the way he times the ball and the way he exudes confidence. Kamran can and should take up a specialist batsmans role, if there are any reservations about his keeping. I love Kamran Akmals batting.

Posted by SuperiorEleven on (April 17, 2013, 19:43 GMT)

"It's my brother Adnan who I am afraid of" (hahaha) what a joke. These brothers playing in the team just because they have a big support in the PCB and they belongs to PUNJAB, otherwise they never got selected in the team. Akmal brothers are the bigest WASTE!!! Poor Anil Dalpat droped one catch and Imran never selected him again, on the other end Kamran Droped 10,000 catches and he is still palying and acording to the PCB he is best wicket keeper. This is the true example of Discirminaton.

Posted by short_cover on (April 17, 2013, 19:33 GMT)

I think Ian Chappel said it the best during that tour... "If his batting was as good as Don Bradman's, he couldn't score enough runs to make up for what he costs them with his keeping."

Posted by hakimnaz on (April 17, 2013, 12:17 GMT)

I have read Kamran Akmal's interview carefully and would like to tell him re his critics. Kamran Bete, your answer to everybody lies on your performance on the field, remember that. So Good luck God bless

Posted by cerratic on (April 17, 2013, 10:09 GMT)

Kamran Akmal is utterly useless as a wicket-keeper in all formats of the game. Ditch him permanently & find a competent WK/batsman even remotely comparable to the likes of Dhoni, Sangakara, de Villiers etc.

Posted by   on (April 17, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

he is a useless batsmen and an ugly wicketkeeper. we all know sydney test is not the only match which we have lost because of his pathetic wicket keeping, he has been found guilty on a number of occasions, we fans need not to get emotional because of this interview. pakistan has plenty of better options than him in the domestic circuit, problem is with management and selection committee. it is not possible that in a cricket crazy nation like pakistan where cricketing talent is in abundance , selection committee cannot find a good wicket keeping batsman. they just need to go in streets n put in some dedicated effort

Posted by   on (April 17, 2013, 8:54 GMT)

As a completely impartial Englishman, I feel sorry for Kamran. Sure, he's made some keeping errors that I think most of us could say were verging on schoolboy. But this interview shows a side of Akmal many of us outside of Pakistan have never seen. He appears to be so genuine, and world cricket has witnessed some of his flashes of brilliance. It's never nice to see a cricketer's career in one format end after just one horrific performance, and having read all the comments by Pakistani supporters, it appears his talents deserve a place in the test side. Good luck Kamran on your road to redemption - perhaps he'll play a match-winning innings in the Test Championship and prove everyone wrong!

Posted by mtalhas on (April 17, 2013, 8:53 GMT)

Moin Khan and Rashid Latif were underrated batsmen. Its useless to compare Akmal's heroics with those of Moin and Rashid because they never got a chance to play as a full time batsman as our batting order was full of heavy weights in those days. Infact, they were more reliable with the bat as their role was defined in the lower middle order and they always did justice by boosting up the run rate. Akmal's batting has come under the spotlight since he made some big scores by batting up the order often as an opener where Moin or Rashid hardly ever played. Comparing them in the glovework, well we all know who was better. Akmal is simply a product of the mismanagement and politics in our system.

Posted by   on (April 17, 2013, 7:02 GMT)

Pakistan has produced a number of quality wicket keeper batsmen like Moin khan,Rashid latif, Saleem yousuf, but nowadays Kamran Akmal is the best of the present lot, He did perform poorly in Sydney test no doubt about that but in everyone's life bad days occur but it doesn't mean that keep talking about those bad days instead we should forget them and concentrate on the present time, Kamran Akmal has done great with both bat and gloves on many occasions why people keep critisising about bad performances why they don't remember the good peformances he has given why they keep saying nasty things , it's very easy to say things from outside one more thing i personally feels that justice is not done with him he is a hero and doesn't need to proove it he is needed to be given confidence to enhance his performances world cup is coming very fast he should be given ample amont of confidence our tem can perform well in it. kamran try to do your be best and leave the rest to almigthy Allah.

Posted by sherishahmir on (April 17, 2013, 5:53 GMT)

Good interview, there is no doubt about talent in Kamran for his batting and bit keeping as he likes to catch the slip catches in front of slip fielders but also like to drop some dolly catches which come straight into his hands. I think while batting he should bat according to situation rather to play all the time recklessly like Afridi and limit himself for the T20 and ODIs. In test cricket his young brother Adnan should be tried as so far he flawless in keeping and also showed some batting skills.

Posted by SamRoy on (April 17, 2013, 4:28 GMT)

It was a big mistake allowing Kamran Akmal to play test cricket for Pakistan. With the bat he has some heroics like helping Pakistan win the series against India in 2006, saving the series against India (in India) in 2005 and helping Pakistan win against England in 2005. But the number of times his wicketkeeping has cost Pakistan the match must surely be more than the number of times he helped Pakistan win with the bat. It should have been Adnan from the beginning; at least he is neat behind the stumps and gritty as a batsman (though doesn't possess Umar or Kamran's batting talent).

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 20:24 GMT)

Kamran Akmal is one of the finest wicket keepers in the history of Pakistan cricket...He has scored more centuries than any other Pakistan Keeper in History...FOR HIS CRITICS.....Remember 39/6 against India in Karachi, Kamran played match winning century, Also Mohali,Kolkata...These sort of innings have never been played by Moin Khan or Rashid Latif......Poor keeping in Sydney test was his mistake that cost us match...and those people who r crying about lost match against NZ in W.Cup...That match became insignificant as Pak topped the group in the end...He should be included in test squad as well... and I see no one replacing him as of now

Posted by t20cric on (April 16, 2013, 20:21 GMT)

He is the best wicketkeeper batsman we have right now and maybe if people stopped criticizing him it would make him a more confident player and he would be better. But his role in the team is a WICKETKEEPER batsman (keeper 1st batsman 2nd) and he should prioritize accordingly. Sometimes it only feels like he is a keeper/batsman and he either performs as a keeper or a batsman but not both. If he gets his wicket keeping together then he can focus on improving his batting and become a very good wicket keeper. His argument about being the best keeper batsman in Pak is true because Sarfaraz Ahmed keeped better then Kamran but he definitely didnt bat better and with Pak's bad batsman we really need a keeper who can bat as well

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 18:54 GMT)

even better batsman than malik and misbah and still criticized too much ... he is fine batsman and fine keeper

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 15:30 GMT)

This guy is someone who has been on the mocking radar of everybody for the last 3/4 years and perhaps deserves a lot more respect than he actually gets. While there is no hiding from the fact that he has had horror days behind the stumps but he still remains one of the finest wicketkeeper batsman of his generation produced by Pakistan. While all the blame of sydney test was loaded on Kamran, nobody pointed out the terrible batting during the run chase after the pretty decent start. We would condemn Kamran for the catches dropped of Taylor but nobody would point out the four dolliest of catches dropped by our best fielders like Misbah and younis in the crunch WC semifinal which eventually cost us the WC. Let's give this guy some breathing space, nobody in our team is perfect so why make Kamran a symbol of humor? He has played some of the best match winning innings in our history namely in Mohali, Karachi, t20 final. Let's show some respect.

Posted by mshyder on (April 16, 2013, 15:19 GMT)

What we don't understand is that not every country can have a wicket keeper who is capable batsman. His primary job is to keep wickets, if he is not good at his primary job then he should not be selected no matter how good a batsman he is. This basic concept needs to be understood by PCB. Once they get this right then unfortunately there is no room for Kamran Akmal in the side as his keeping is not up to international standards by any means.

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 11:54 GMT)

Finest wicketkeeper batsman in the history of Pakistan. Many top cricketers dnt even have the batting class kamran akmal have. He concentrated on his wicketkeeping and is doing well now. My suggestion to his critics, forget the past every player has a bad patch it takes half a decade to make a wicket keeper batsman of that level we cant afford to lose him.

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 11:38 GMT)

It is a shame that what happened in Pakistan has tainted this mans reputation and I must admit when I saw him Drop Ross Taylor Twice in the world cup I was thinking What the heck, but then again I thought 'you know we all have shocking days'. I personaly hope that he does get back into the Test Arena because you get that feeling that batsman mature in thier late 20s - early 30s and we are yet to see the best of Kamran, and he is statisticly and probably the best recent Pakastani Wicket Keeper Batsman.

Posted by latecut_04 on (April 16, 2013, 11:33 GMT)

Kamran Akmal epitomises contemporary Pakistan cricket.Hapless,confused and un(?)predictable.I started watching cricket in late80s and have always been amazed by the on field performance of Pakistan.Bowlers like Imran,Wasim,Waqar,Saqlain,Mustaq and even Aaqib Javed with guys like Mohamad Yusuf,Moin Khan and even Rashid Latif destroying batting lineups(Me from India and was left broken hearted many times by the toe crushers ,pace and vicious swing of Paksitani bowlers.)The trend stopped after 2000 and Pakistan became predictably unpredictable,chaotic and what not.This Kamran boy should not have been allowed to play international cricket much earlier than Sydney test because caught kamran Akmal was the least expected form of dismissal much before that.and sydney test..dont get me started please...this is not Pakistan bashing from an Indian but sincere lamenting by a true cricket lover.All these are mainly due to PCB methods(or lack of them).Make YK the captain and give him a free hand.

Posted by shobhit_nigam on (April 16, 2013, 10:35 GMT)

Currently pakistan's best keeper-batsman

Posted by Baseball-Sucks on (April 16, 2013, 10:26 GMT)

He dropped Hussey 3 TIMES in that innings. And Hussey went on to score unbeaten 134* courtesy of Kamran Akmal. I just can't imagine how he felt at that moment.

Posted by oayaz01 on (April 16, 2013, 10:03 GMT)

Sydney 2010 was way late in his career, and it went down the hill from England tour in 2006 when he still kept wickets despite having a broken finger. From there on, he has just been a liability and pretty much ended Kaneria's career by his awful keeping.

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 9:51 GMT)

Kamran Akmal has been the catalyst to his own downfall. When you start to believe that no can take your place, that is where you start to miss fire. Over confidence has taken the better of him. Even in this interview he has mentioned that the slot is still unsettled meaning that he believes no one has or can take it over from him, I believe he needs to put his foot down and focus on his game. His keepering is not the most sloppy but his batting has been miserable lately.

Posted by MFNadeem on (April 16, 2013, 9:19 GMT)

Unfortunately, Pakistan has no alternative choice. We tried, Adnan, Salman, Sarfraz, Shakil, Umar Akmal, and Younis, but each of these experiments failed miserably. Now I see another young wicket keeper Mohammad Rizwan who is performing exceptionally well in domestic. Selectors shouldn't replace Kamran until Rizwan is matured enough to handle the pressure. Kamran must be brought to the opening slot in limited overs' cricket.

Posted by Dannymania on (April 16, 2013, 9:12 GMT)

The simple thing is,That kamran akmal has lost pakistan more games than he has won pakistan.Which means that he is a liability and a burden.I dont like him,nor do most of the people in pakistan.Have no idea why he is still playing for pakistan.I'ld rather have a part time keeper than him,making an extra place for a better batsman.May be groom umar akmal to be a keeper.Leaving a place for a more deserving batsman.

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

hahahahahhaha I love the first question BTW...... :D

Posted by guptahitesh4u on (April 16, 2013, 8:29 GMT)

He should have said "I kept a count of dropped catches till it reached 100, after that I do not know"

Posted by getsetgopk on (April 16, 2013, 8:01 GMT)

THE worst, not one of the worst keepers NOT just Pakistan but any country has ever produced and this is why. A dropped catch is not just a dropped catch, in his own words, a keeper is the teams energy but when he is known for his dropped catches, it demoralizes the whole team. His batting average of 30 odd means very little, if he keeps dropping catches, he's actually conceding more runs than he scores. He has very conveniently used the term, batsman keeper. No, that is what a team needs. A team needs a solid keeper that can hold on to catches. Batting is always secondary to wicket keeping. And when he himself uses the term 'batsman keeper' he's admitting himself that he's not up for the job. Bowling is our strong suit and to have a rubbish keeper kills the team spirit.

Posted by Pathiyal on (April 16, 2013, 7:21 GMT)

a very good interview. and very honest answers!!!! kamran has really improved since those bad days at the aussies. the way he worked it out from his mystery days was awesome but he was 'the ultimate keeper' when he started his career. sure he will get back to those days with his form. regarding the batting position, yes if i were the team captain i would have asked him which position he wanted to bat and oblige as he is a very useful and effective batsman for ODIs. since i am not in a position to do that now, i am doing the best i can - wishing him a magnificent career!

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (April 16, 2013, 6:41 GMT)

He is still handy in t20 but i think for other formats its the time to give Muhammad Rizwan a long chance. Who is a good wicket keeper Batsman.

Posted by Kashif.Anwar on (April 16, 2013, 6:25 GMT)

Kamran Akmal was as good as any keeper when he started his career. I have seen him taking stunning catches behind stumps. But now he is not in the best of forms. It is all about foot work and how you move behind the stumps to cope with the movement of ball. And many a times when he has dropped a catch chance was because he was wrong footed and caught on his heels when he went for it. All he needs a a good advice from veterans like Rashid Latif and Moin Khan. Kamran should be idealizing them rather than people like Adam Gilchrist , Boucher or McCullum. As far as his batting is concerned, no-doubt he is a great talent and better than his predecessors. He can go to the extent where he can be selected in the national team as a specialist batsman rather than a weeket-keeper batsman.

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 6:19 GMT)

hmmmmm i think Shakeel Ansar domestic wicket keeper and player also that should be a chance to Play if Kamran Akmal didn't improving his performances

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 6:16 GMT)

i donot know translated it but im quite sure kamran cant say these things in english but he is a nice keeper and a good batsman he had some bad days but on the other side he is best available keeper for pakistan

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 6:15 GMT)

He will always be remembered for Sydney debacle. He was the only man standing between the team's victory

Posted by adnan_rifat84 on (April 16, 2013, 6:13 GMT)

He think Pakistan does not have any wicket keeper batsmen just his brother Adnan Akmal but there is Muhammad Rizwan showing his performance well and good. More chances should also be given to Maqbool Ahmed played from Multan side. He is also good young wicket keeper.

Posted by bharath74 on (April 16, 2013, 6:10 GMT)

Very good batsman all he needs is support from the board and ppl.

Posted by   on (April 16, 2013, 6:02 GMT)

He is a very lucky guy by all mean! He has made so many comebacks after being dropped each time.. Average keeping, inconsistent batsman, but the fact remains that there is no keeper in the domestic circle who could take his place. Moreover, Kamran Akmal has been into so many controversies of late, yet the media does not go after him as hardly as they did to Soaib Akhtar (definitely one of the most threatening bowler ever)... Whatever the fate of all other players has been, it is a well established fact that KAkmal will always be the one of the most LUCKIEST players in the decade 2003-2013 of all players who have played the game.

Posted by M.S78622 on (April 16, 2013, 5:06 GMT)

The worst wicketkeeper that pak have ever had,and the most worst in top 10 teams

Posted by CricketAkshay on (April 16, 2013, 4:52 GMT)

He is such a great batsman down the order, but not good enough as an opener.

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