April 1, 2014

Why Pakistan must change to fit Akmal

They have long mistaken his fearlessness for irresponsibility and clipped his wings. But he can't be denied for long
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Umar Akmal: attuned to the game's modern paces
Umar Akmal: attuned to the game's modern paces © Getty Images

Let's indulge ourselves a little, shall we? Watch this video. Watch it again, and if you want, keep watching. Forget this piece. Just keep watching that shot on loop. My mind isn't overstuffed with too many memories of one-off, inconsequential shots by Pakistani batsmen, strokes that burn themselves into your brain just for being what they are. Wickets and one-off deliveries I'm overpopulated with; shots, not so much.

There are a couple of ridiculous Shahid Afridi shots there. There's a patented Javed Miandad invention, moving away and redirecting a very full, straight delivery from Allan Donald past point. That was during an ODI in 1993 and is made especially memorable by the little sideways glance the camera captures of Miandad as Donald is well advanced in his run-up, at precisely the area where he eventually plays the ball. In other words, without moving or committing to any stroke before the ball is bowled, it is still the mother of all premeditated strokes; predetermined in his mind where he was going to play it, not how.

Inzamam-ul-Haq's late, late dab in the Melbourne final; Moin Khan's unparalleled sweep-slice over long-off the game before; a monster Kamran Akmal six off Dale Steyn at the 2009 World T20 - though that remains ingrained as much for Nasser Hussain's casually electric - and prophetic - musings about which Pakistan were turning up that day. Basically there aren't many. This Umar Akmal shot, though, is top of that list right now and I can't see it being replaced for some time.

Slowing it down on Youtube doesn't make it easier to understand. That Morne Morkel delivery was back of a length, a few stumps outside off, and 88mph at launch. Its arc was still rising on contact with bat. It's the kind of delivery I can imagine a hundred Pakistani batsmen past, present and, sadly, future, wafting at and edging behind. Some I can see slapping it straight to cover.

Just before impact, as Akmal readies to launch himself into the delivery, it seems like he might slap-drive it square through off. Then, at impact, it looks like he has scythed it high into the off side somewhere, because the length is not a driving one. But then it quickly transpires that, with that whippy, low back-swing he has somehow engineered an entirely unexpected angle as response. This might not make total sense, but his bat arc ends up kind of slicing across the delivery and lofts it to the right of long-on; not square on off or leg as you might imagine a sliced shot going, but straightish. Akmal ends up open-chested, looking like he has played a high-elbowed straight drive, only on a pitch that is diagonal to the ground, running from long-on across to a fine third man. It is the geometry of the shot that I don't get: to reply to that angle of delivery with that angle of back-swing, follow-through and then shot.

Morkel looks a little bemused, though he gets that way often. He's not alone. Since Akmal's debut in 2009, Pakistan have also not known what to make of him.

****

A considerable degree of responsibility for the general failures of Pakistan's batting in the last decade lies with the team's management. They don't know how batsmen are made. It took them years to find the right spot for Younis Khan (and many to make him a regular). Just recently they dropped Azhar Ali for Mohammad Hafeez. Asad Shafiq plays every international as if it is his last. Fawad Alam, as well as having not been in the side for years, was played as an opener in his first Test. Akmal has the same stories to tell. Pakistan have been too impatient with him. They have not found him the right spot. They have foisted too much responsibility on him. At other times they have put him into a box in which he doesn't really fit. And they have made him a wicketkeeper.

He is the most utterly modern batsman Pakistan have. He is their first true batsman of the post-Sehwag age

This is all part of the same tapestry. It's not that batting resources beyond Younis and Misbah-ul-Haq are, or should be, the major worry. Instead it is fretting about how Pakistan will squeeze the least amount of runs out of the burgeoning potential that resides in a potential line-up of Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar, Shafiq, Sohaib Maqsood, Akmal and Alam.

But Akmal is cursed twice over not just because of who he is - a Pakistani batsman - but especially what he is. Which is the most utterly modern batsman Pakistan have. He is their first true batsman of the post-Sehwag age, where clear-headed intent in shot-making is a far bigger commodity in batting than many other attributes. He is attuned to the game's modern paces, all upwards of swift. That's not to mistake him simply for a boundary hitter. Far from it. For long it has been clear that he is a sharp manipulator of good balls and defensive fields to keep fetching runs. Sure, everything else can go to the boundary. But nobody in Pakistan can play like he can. Few have the mechanics for it, but nobody - Shehzad excepted - has the belief either.

In the modern way Akmal doesn't feel the need to adjust his game to a format or a situation; he would rather impose his game on the format or situation. In only his third Test innings he was sent in at one-down by Mohammad Yousuf on a tough surface in Wellington. No one else, all more experienced, wanted to bat there, so up Akmal went. At the time his 48-ball 46 felt a skittish, unsure innings, and he struggled against some good seam and swing bowling. But thinking back now, it was a first sighting of him forcing his skill onto a difficult situation, believing it was good enough to cope. He got done in by a peach but it had the potential to be a first-day game-breaker. Pakistan were immediately suspicious: this, muttered some, was not the way to bat in Tests.

A month later, on his first sighting in Australia, he took 19 from a Peter Siddle over. One six, pulled just wide of long-on at the MCG, made Richie Benaud smirk, up in commentary. The late Peter Roebuck went all aquiver.

Pakistan? He didn't pick out Akmal specifically but Yousuf chose to deliver a stark, thinly veiled warning about how T20 cricket would finish Pakistan's batsmen. That was pretty much the party line; Pakistan's cricket establishment generally tends to be antiquated and non-progressive. They have long mistaken Akmal's fearlessness for irresponsibility.

This last month or so in Bangladesh, however, Akmal has pushed himself into a bigger conversation. His value to the limited-overs side is unquestioned. That was never in real dispute, and adept as he has become at his position now, the only debate is whether he and Pakistan are better served eventually with him higher up. But now the horizon should be widened again. Under Misbah, Pakistan have preferred a safer, more cautious approach in the make-up of their Test batting. That is fine, because it has helped them in certain conditions. But Akmal cannot be long denied. For five years Pakistan have gone about Akmal the wrong way round. It is not that he needs to change himself to fit in. It is that Pakistan needs to change to fit him in.

Osman Samiuddin is a sportswriter at the National

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on April 6, 2014, 18:45 GMT

    Suppose if this was a South African or Indian team,none of these players would be selected, who now form the Pakistan team.Kamran and Shoaib seem to have some gidder singhi,who are called back again and again ,only to flop again and again.Frankly speaking I am convinced that there is no talent in Pakistan.We have seen new comers like Sohaib,Sharjeel,Junaid,Bhatti or Shehzad. They are all tullah players. First class cricket also is a farce. There is no class. Our cricket is just like our politics.No class,no integrity,no commitment ,no foresight and no ethics.

  • Toescrusher on April 6, 2014, 0:31 GMT

    Br. Osman Samiuddin,

    The more we will have biased selection the more weaker we will be, address this if you want to see a strong Pakistani side. Otherwise everyone else will steel the show from in front of us; like it is happening now.

    If you are only interested in writing on Cricinfo than don't worry bout it.

    Thank you

    Toescrusher

  • right_arm_fastest on April 3, 2014, 22:52 GMT

    Very talented but he needs to be groomed. How many matches he has won for Pakistan? Has a habit of getting out at critical stage of the game.

  • PlayfromDallas on April 3, 2014, 20:54 GMT

    During the 80s Zaheer Abbas once said "A one down player is an opener" Respectfully, I would like to disagree. How many times Desmond Haynes played one down? How many times Ricky Ponting played as an opener? How many times Gavasker played one down? How many times Saeed Anwar played at number three? ... The question is what's wrong with Pakistani batsmen of current and previous era, they start with one down and slowly, almost in sneak around fashion manage to hide their selves in the lower order? Inzmam, Mohd Yousuf, Shoaib Malik are those examples. This allows new comers to think the same defensive way. This must be stopped; this is another reason which has destroyed our betting. Batting is a very sensitive issue it must be handle with care. Batting orders particularly one through five must not be disturbed. After all continuous tempering has given us continuous miserable batting results.

  • SaifS on April 3, 2014, 8:14 GMT

    Brilliant article by Osman is all I want to say...with you 100%!

  • on April 3, 2014, 1:00 GMT

    By far the most talented batsman that we have. He and Maqsood should be the middle order of Pakistan. with him coming 1 down and Maqsood 2 down. Malik ofcourse should be axed . Umar should ONLY keep wickets in T20 and Pakistan should give the pool lad Rizwan a chance. They have given many many chances to Karman and Sarfraz. Rizwan deserves a chance. Honestly I sometimes get annoyed why people dislike this guy. he is super talented and his number prove it as well. I am seriously disappointed with former players like Basit Ali, Amir Sohail, Sarfrz Ahmed, Javed and Yousuf for crictiszing him instead of criticizing the management for sending him at 6 or 7. I bet if they played at that number they would have achieved half as much as he has achieved in his young career !!! Some numbers to prove my point and rub on the faces of these so called former greats http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/731913.html

  • DarthKetan on April 2, 2014, 23:10 GMT

    Nice to read the recognition Sehwag is getting (Post-Sehwag era of clear headed stroke making). I'd argue though that Akmal is not the first...there's Warner, Dhawan, Tamim Iqbal etc. as well!!Also, to be in that category, you qought to do well in Tests. Akmal may be getting there, but is not there yet...

  • on April 2, 2014, 22:18 GMT

    Pakistan will be wasting money and time on him. Time to look for a better prospect who has good cricketing brain. 1 shot does not define a batsman. He do have lots of raw talent but his attitude is really bad.

  • on April 2, 2014, 20:02 GMT

    U akmal is a v talented batsmen, but he comes with the baggage of the rest of the Akmal family nonsense.Even his man of the match award he dedicated to his brother!!Why?I know its a personal thing, but his brother didnt do anything worthwhile with the bat.Now that he is married into Abdul Qadir's family,expect them to have even more selection influence. U Akmal is talented, we can build a team around him A. Shehzad and Sohaib.Pakistan's team balance is all wrong.We desparately need a decent pace allrounder. Misbah may not last till the next WC, do we have replacement.Finally, what should really worry us is that we did badly on spin friendly pitches, what can we possibly do in Aus next yr?How is the managment preparing for that?These guys need exposure on bouncy/pacey pitches now.

  • SamNY2013 on April 2, 2014, 17:51 GMT

    He is good today and can be great with some temperament adjustments, plays with too much emotions and has maturity issues. Case in point, Umer dedicated man-of-the-match performance to his brother for making it back to national side, what kind of thinking he will have once Kamran will be axed from side?

  • on April 6, 2014, 18:45 GMT

    Suppose if this was a South African or Indian team,none of these players would be selected, who now form the Pakistan team.Kamran and Shoaib seem to have some gidder singhi,who are called back again and again ,only to flop again and again.Frankly speaking I am convinced that there is no talent in Pakistan.We have seen new comers like Sohaib,Sharjeel,Junaid,Bhatti or Shehzad. They are all tullah players. First class cricket also is a farce. There is no class. Our cricket is just like our politics.No class,no integrity,no commitment ,no foresight and no ethics.

  • Toescrusher on April 6, 2014, 0:31 GMT

    Br. Osman Samiuddin,

    The more we will have biased selection the more weaker we will be, address this if you want to see a strong Pakistani side. Otherwise everyone else will steel the show from in front of us; like it is happening now.

    If you are only interested in writing on Cricinfo than don't worry bout it.

    Thank you

    Toescrusher

  • right_arm_fastest on April 3, 2014, 22:52 GMT

    Very talented but he needs to be groomed. How many matches he has won for Pakistan? Has a habit of getting out at critical stage of the game.

  • PlayfromDallas on April 3, 2014, 20:54 GMT

    During the 80s Zaheer Abbas once said "A one down player is an opener" Respectfully, I would like to disagree. How many times Desmond Haynes played one down? How many times Ricky Ponting played as an opener? How many times Gavasker played one down? How many times Saeed Anwar played at number three? ... The question is what's wrong with Pakistani batsmen of current and previous era, they start with one down and slowly, almost in sneak around fashion manage to hide their selves in the lower order? Inzmam, Mohd Yousuf, Shoaib Malik are those examples. This allows new comers to think the same defensive way. This must be stopped; this is another reason which has destroyed our betting. Batting is a very sensitive issue it must be handle with care. Batting orders particularly one through five must not be disturbed. After all continuous tempering has given us continuous miserable batting results.

  • SaifS on April 3, 2014, 8:14 GMT

    Brilliant article by Osman is all I want to say...with you 100%!

  • on April 3, 2014, 1:00 GMT

    By far the most talented batsman that we have. He and Maqsood should be the middle order of Pakistan. with him coming 1 down and Maqsood 2 down. Malik ofcourse should be axed . Umar should ONLY keep wickets in T20 and Pakistan should give the pool lad Rizwan a chance. They have given many many chances to Karman and Sarfraz. Rizwan deserves a chance. Honestly I sometimes get annoyed why people dislike this guy. he is super talented and his number prove it as well. I am seriously disappointed with former players like Basit Ali, Amir Sohail, Sarfrz Ahmed, Javed and Yousuf for crictiszing him instead of criticizing the management for sending him at 6 or 7. I bet if they played at that number they would have achieved half as much as he has achieved in his young career !!! Some numbers to prove my point and rub on the faces of these so called former greats http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/731913.html

  • DarthKetan on April 2, 2014, 23:10 GMT

    Nice to read the recognition Sehwag is getting (Post-Sehwag era of clear headed stroke making). I'd argue though that Akmal is not the first...there's Warner, Dhawan, Tamim Iqbal etc. as well!!Also, to be in that category, you qought to do well in Tests. Akmal may be getting there, but is not there yet...

  • on April 2, 2014, 22:18 GMT

    Pakistan will be wasting money and time on him. Time to look for a better prospect who has good cricketing brain. 1 shot does not define a batsman. He do have lots of raw talent but his attitude is really bad.

  • on April 2, 2014, 20:02 GMT

    U akmal is a v talented batsmen, but he comes with the baggage of the rest of the Akmal family nonsense.Even his man of the match award he dedicated to his brother!!Why?I know its a personal thing, but his brother didnt do anything worthwhile with the bat.Now that he is married into Abdul Qadir's family,expect them to have even more selection influence. U Akmal is talented, we can build a team around him A. Shehzad and Sohaib.Pakistan's team balance is all wrong.We desparately need a decent pace allrounder. Misbah may not last till the next WC, do we have replacement.Finally, what should really worry us is that we did badly on spin friendly pitches, what can we possibly do in Aus next yr?How is the managment preparing for that?These guys need exposure on bouncy/pacey pitches now.

  • SamNY2013 on April 2, 2014, 17:51 GMT

    He is good today and can be great with some temperament adjustments, plays with too much emotions and has maturity issues. Case in point, Umer dedicated man-of-the-match performance to his brother for making it back to national side, what kind of thinking he will have once Kamran will be axed from side?

  • on April 2, 2014, 17:20 GMT

    If U. Akmal is utilized properly, he could be the next Miandad or even one better. I watched Miandad played many times, I cannot recall a single time he was sent in at #6 except in his last match. You need your top batsmen at the top of the order to structure the innings whether to up the run rate, rotate strike, hold the innings, whatever is needed. You don't send U. Akmal at #6 when the match is essentially over:)

  • on April 2, 2014, 17:01 GMT

    Umar Akmal is definitely the better batsman of the lot . Pakistan's team managements skills are horrible. YOu have so many changes in PCB depending on who is running the country which in turn makes changes for everyone down the line One day is Mohsin next time Whatmore then Mohsin....it is like a musical chair. Then odd ball selections like Malik who I am not sure how he keeps coming back more times than a cat with nine lives...

  • on April 2, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    Umar Akmal is definitely the most talented batsmen in Pakistan and he should be given an extended run in test cricket as well, he won't perform everytime but when he does he can win matches single handedly.

  • cornered_again on April 2, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    I don't what is wrong with our people commenting here... They won't criticize Kamran and Shoaib malik but they would hate this kid..Guys he has been performing consistently since his comeback after champions trophy....He has the most runs at no 6 after only the great MS Dhoni... He just have a problem against leg spinners and our bloody coaches can't iron them out.. How would they becauase they are pathetic coaches

  • on April 2, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    Md. Hafeez would struggle to find a place even in the domestic circles of any test playing nation and ironically he led the side though conducting it to its doom. Shoaib Malik's selection is even more baffling. Kamraan Akmal behind the stumps has been vulnerable and his batting is like a momentary sun breaking through fog. Umar Akmal , talented but mindless cricket does not help anyone's cause. Umar Gul has a history of damaging the cause of pakistan and Saeed Ajmal did it for the second time and conceded one extra. Both Gul and Ajmal are overrated bowlers who cannot bowl at death. Hafeez did not even have a word when Gul kept bowling back of length to Baravo. Where was Shehzad's bat while Sankotie, yorker hit his toe. Pakistan as T20 team has no future. The only player who can change things on his own is Afridi but he was not given the chance even to use the long handle.

  • on April 2, 2014, 12:54 GMT

    So what happened yesterday? The boy wonder performs once in a year and you want Pakistan to change for that? Desperate times indeed.

  • on April 2, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    None of the current Pakistani players know how to play normal cricket. You play abnormal cricket under exceptional circumstances that you come across only occasionally. All Pakistani batsmen know little how to take singles and rotate strike and that is all what is called as normal cricket or having basic technique in place. That is why they fail more often than not.

  • on April 2, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    I agree with Osman. Let me give one example - Ahmed Shahzad has played lot of poor shots but still termed as 'future' of Pakistani Cricket. Same shot played by Umar Akmal they are called irresponsible! I call it a "Halo Effect" - Shahzad can't do any wrong, Umar 'always' does. A poor shot is a poor shot - even if it is played by the greatest ones in the game. Why so much scrutiny of Umar? I am an Indian and follow cricket for last 40 years. Playing aggressive is the Pakistani brand of cricket. Let us take that. Need is to train and grow the talent to channel this aggression in better way. Imran Khan exactly did that by nurturing players like Wasim, Waqar and Inzimam. They were set free to unleash their aggression while coaching was done in parallel by Imran for them to become the great one! Current problem is not to have an able captain - hence Pakistan is not there where it should be. I feel, the country needs another Imran to convert these boys into men!

  • on April 2, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    I am a big fan of Osman's writing but this article disappoint me. Writer should realize that team management made out of form Umar Akmal wicket keeper to fit him in team. Umar Akmal get out playing brainless shots on many occasions.Writer trying to advocate that Umar dropped from squad after good performances but reality is that he was dropped from test team after constant failures.74 Umar Akmal mad in first match of Asia Cup against Sri Lanka was his first 50+ score after 12 innings. Yes I agree Umar have talent but he is highly inconsistent and unreliable player.No way that Umar Akmal be classified as great player. In ongoing T20 WC he only played one notable inning and failed in three. The way Badree deceived him in flight in last group match of T20 world cup 2014 showed that he lacked caliber to handle quality bowling

  • on April 2, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    I am in agreement with Mr. Samiuddin. In ODIs, Umar Akmal has always been sent after Misbah. Although Misbah is the only reason we actually play out 50 overs, he also reduces the run-rate. Akmal is brought in at an awkward time where the run rate has to be increased. In that effort, he gets out. Pakistan's biggest problem is having the stubborn and selfish M Hafeez at number 3. Look at the other one-downs in the world and you see that Pakistan puts the game into disrepute by calling Hafeez, Malik and K Akmal batsmen. It is time Pakistan bring back Shafiq, Alam and Umar Akmal as regular batsmen in all format.Azhar Ali should be the one-down in Tests. Do away with Hafeez, Malik and K Akmal. Alas, this will not happen. Hafeez deserved to be laughed out of the game by Steyn, but no one is allowed to question his place in the side.

  • Sauron_Of_Middle_Earth on April 1, 2014, 23:58 GMT

    I don't understand the reason people say good batsmen play 'good-looking' shots, especially so in the sub-continent. Sure, there are the Dravids, Tendulkars, Inzys, Sangas, Mahelas etc who are proponents of this theory. But batsmanship is as much about mental attitude as it is about skill. Sure Umar Akmal, Rohit Sharma, Phil Hughes etc. are taleneted (or atleast, that's what Pak, Ind and Aus claim). But can you really call them good batsmen when they cannot produce the necessary knocks at crucial times? That's where someone like Kohli is different - crucial innings at crucial moments. Steven Smith has done it for Aus recently. Steve Waugh did it for a period of two decades. These alongwith the previous 5 are good batsmen. Dhoni is a horrible batsman-But the guy makes it count when it matters. Yuvraj is an amazing talent, but could not make it count in test matches. Instead of going overboard after having watched people play a couple of shots, we need to judge them on a long-term basis.

  • McGorium on April 1, 2014, 23:08 GMT

    If I'm understanding the author, his thesis is that the team must adjust to accommodate the individual. I don't think it's a reasonable position: Sehwag, the man used to justify this long rope, did not require the Indian team to accommodate him. There was no place for him in the middle order, and he knew that opening was the only way he'd ever get selected, so there he went. He was often paired with a solid and sedate partner in tests (Chopra/Bangar/ Jaffer, etc) and followed by the solidest of them all, in Rahul Dravid. And followed by Tendulkar. And followed by VVS... you get the picture. Sehwag was a gamble India was willing to make: if conditions did not aid swing, Sehwag would murder the opposition. If it did, there's always Dravid. Sehwag would've never been as successful had India not had such an able middle order to back him. Pak batting doesn't provide Akmal such luxuries. Don't stifle him, sure, but don't make a prima donna out of him either, a la shoaib akhtar.

  • on April 1, 2014, 21:08 GMT

    After how Pakistan lost today, this article makes me more upset. What Pakistan need as a team and a nation is some selfless cricketers and human being who are in this for Pakistan and not self. Akmal brothers, Shoaib Malik, hafeez , Umar Gul etc. have not performed consistently in two three games in past how many years but they keep on getting selected in team.

  • Sheriar on April 1, 2014, 20:29 GMT

    Mr Osman Samiuddin, please don't over-glorify flashes of brilliance to make them appear as signs of greatness. Look around and you'll find displays of such brilliance on fortnightly basis by one cricketer or another (with so much of cricket being played all over the world). That doesn't mean all of them are greats of game for whom a national team "needs to change to fit them in". I agree with Anand Kumar's point of view ....flat track bullies riding on their luck shouldn't be labeled as greats. Moreover, a genuinely "great" batsman is not only skilled in the craft, but is also adequately intelligent and has the right attitude towards the game. I'm afraid Umar Akmal falls well short of these criteria, especially the last two.

  • on April 1, 2014, 20:14 GMT

    I just want to you say that you are the most engaging writer on cricinfo.

  • nareshgb1 on April 1, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    Dont know what all the noise is about - that was actually a mis-hit. The ball just had lot of pace on it. Simple.

  • on April 1, 2014, 19:11 GMT

    I disagree with Mr. Anand Kumar. Below par players never have reasonable averages.

  • on April 1, 2014, 18:05 GMT

    its kind of funny reading articles after 1 -2 games about some one and next few games player looking clueless.

  • on April 1, 2014, 17:45 GMT

    Anand Kumar, we must salute your excellent comment. So true.

  • on April 1, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    Umar Akmal is more hopeless than Kamran Akmal and even more selfish and non-team oriented.

    Pakistan need to find players with right attitude and build a team environment, like India have. In such environment even Mishras and Jadejas can do wonders.

    Umar akmal is as bad a test match choice as your low in quality article. I m surprised anyways.

  • rshn on April 1, 2014, 17:10 GMT

    Pakistan have always been worshipping one stroke wonders, be it U Akmal or Afridi or Imran Nazir, but never Yusuf Yohana or younus khan. Thats why Pakistan has never been consistent, their win always looked fluke, becuase they won impossible matches, but lost probable ones. Cant remember the last time Pakistan were at No 1 for more than 3 months, its because of this reason. Time to go beyond these one stroke wonders and look for consistent, non-flashy players for Pakistan.

  • seo7seo on April 1, 2014, 17:01 GMT

    Each and every player in a team must be able to bear the pressure of international cricket and share the responsibility. Being young and new one is not an excuse for continuous errors. The only scale of measurement for any player is how far he can deliver match wining performances. I think umar akmal has won a few matches for Pakistan. His brother Kamran is the real problem. I don't think he will ever be able to win a match for Pakistan in future. We all know how many matches we have lost just because of Kamran.

  • SherazMalick on April 1, 2014, 16:54 GMT

    I always wonder when Hafeez, Misbah and selectors will learn to make the team on merit basis then on regional and personal baised. The arrogance and over confidence of Hafeez while selecting the Akmal brothers and Shoaib Malik all the useless has lead the team to hell. When will they give chance to the talent why useless Sohail tanveer is still there. you will never win with this selection. Akmals are the most unrelaibles and non-trustworthy.

  • on April 1, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    UAkmal and KAkmal answered Osman today.

  • OzMongrel on April 1, 2014, 15:07 GMT

    Oh for Heaven's sake. Read Adam Gilchrist's autobiography and you will find that some players just want to hit the ball. I remember the MCG innings, and remember thinking that finally Pakistan had found a truly explosive Test batsman - the kind of guy that could take a game off of the opposition in a session. Don't stage manage the guy, let him play. The two sixes off of Morkel and Siddle are remarkable shots, why has he not been given an opportunity up the order to see if a quick fire 50 - 100 can put Pakistan into a winning position? Why are Pakistan not willing to gamble to get a win? Wasim would have loved this bloke and shifted him all over the batting order, depending on the state of the game.

  • on April 1, 2014, 13:59 GMT

    All the good looking innings by Umar Akmal and Rohit Sharma have one thing in common - dropped catches, flat tracks, second string bowling.

  • MaruthuDelft on April 1, 2014, 12:47 GMT

    Umar Akmal is actually more explosive than Tendulkar ever was. He can match a powerful skilled six foot batsman like Viv Richards. But Tendulkar knew his game better so was able to deliver consistently. However the writer may be right; give him a long rope; he may discover the consistency switch sitting inside his brain.

  • on April 1, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    Article is very well written. There is not doubt Umar Akmal is one of the best player in Pakistan national side.

  • KarachiKid on April 1, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    I would not consider him great unless he starts finishing matches, converts pretty 20s into 50s and 100s. Maybe moving him up the order will do the trick. But to me Azhar, Fawad and Shafique are better choices in tests. Fawad has also been at the receiving end of PCB's selection policy.

  • U.A.1985 on April 1, 2014, 12:10 GMT

    Osman,

    Sorry to say this has been a hopeless piece. The biggest drawback of Umar Akmal is his inability to graft an innings. He is not one of those reliable batsmen who you can think will take you till the end and will win the game for you. Also I agree with other comments here that he does not have exemplary fighting spirit. So he has a long way to go. Only reason he was in one day side was because our wicket keepers were not able batters.

  • golgo_85 on April 1, 2014, 11:58 GMT

    I find it highly amusing that many of Pak fans are thinking like their timid team management. Umar Akmal's game had dropped as soon as he was put too much responsibililty at an early age where he should've been just told to play his shots and the majority of his runs had come by doing so. He, clearly, is in a different league of his own which is more than evident in his ability to create effortless shots out of nowhere against any opposition on any wicket. The past 3 years Pakistan had been missing a counter attacking batsman in their test line up and that is even after Umar Akmal had been available for selection. The excuse had always been his so called "recklessness" whilst persisting with titherers like Asad. If Pak management hadany sense of consistensy and fairness, Umar Akmal and Fawad Alam would've had established Test careers by now. But yes, keep blaming Umar AKmal for not performing under pressure when he had been playing for his neck whilst being in and out of th team

  • stormy16 on April 1, 2014, 11:17 GMT

    I tend to agree with this article in that Umar is a special talent but Pakistan (or Umar himself) have not been able to get the best out of that talent. I understand the Pakistan frustrations with his wild shots but the fact remains he has talent few others have and used wisely, he could be a sensation. He is not your good batsman but he is special and like most special talents, often managing the talent is the challenge! I feel Pakistan need to give him test opportunites for him to prosper and Pakistan test line up has had a few changes in the recent past but Umar has never been in the mix.

  • on April 1, 2014, 10:41 GMT

    I have to disagree with you on this Osman. I was impressed wd ur assessment about Fawad Alam a few days back. Perhaps fawad is half talented than Umer Akmal but he will always do better than him bcoz he is a real fighter and true team man. Umer on the other hand will always be talked about for his promise which will never be realized due to his empty head. Strokes all around the park dont make you a great player, u need to have a wise head on your shoulder which he hasn't have.

  • ultrasnow on April 1, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    Dear Osman nice shot you refer to to make your point. For an Indian fan it reminded me of a pint sized Sachin in his prime. Akmal has class written all over him. All he needs is support from his captain and the national selectors. Akmal himself can help himself by working on his temperament and keeping not letting success go to his head.

  • on April 1, 2014, 10:00 GMT

    Suggesting the country, with its management, selection process and team adjust to that player. One just has to look at England and its relationship with Petersen and the disastrous conclusions that ensued. Having followed UA's career closely, one can safely say, he plays for himself and his flamboyant brand of cricket and has repeatedly let his country down when needed to be a team man. Is UA talented? Of course he is. Perhaps, even gifted. Therein lies the problem, especially when the player behaves he is bigger than the sport itself, and ends up letting the team, his country and his fans down. Someone suggested Akmal was of the era of Vivian Richards. Humbug. When Richards retired from all cricket, Akmal was barely two years old. If Akmal does not mature in the next few years, he will continue to challenge the selectors both on and off the field.

  • Salobalay on April 1, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    There is a fine line between courage and stupidity.

  • Vindaliew on April 1, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    Umar Akmal reminds me of Tamim Iqbal - unquestioned ability, but somehow underachieves with his license to hit out. Sehwag became mortal when his eyes dimmed and his reflexes slowed (same with Afridi) but he achieved monumental feats in his prime. Akmal just never seemed to deliver. I much prefer someone like Azhar Ali who can grind it out with great concentration - now that's a young man who can be relied upon to serve Pakistan at Number 3 for the next decade or so. If Pakistan can fit both of them it'd be great, of course, but Umar Akmal always seems to be put in because of what he can potentially do, rather than what he is expected to do.

  • k.mithilesh on April 1, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    for once Osman, as an avid follower of Pakistan Cricket, it is difficult to agree with this piece.

  • on April 1, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    He is the best batsman. But they should promote it little bit up. His position in This T20 world cup is better. He should be in this position in the one days

  • fayyaz03 on April 1, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    He will never know the value of his wicket unless he is part of Test team.

  • A.Ak on April 1, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    Pakistan team look far better with out Akmal brothers. These two occupied the spot for so long and very inconsistent. There are many other potential to replace them. Dont you think?

  • on April 1, 2014, 8:52 GMT

    The problem is with the capaticy. A leader needs to identify talents and develop them. Misbah doesn't have an eye for talent and leads the team like a machine. Tell me one batsman who has sprouted under his regime? None. Jamshed,Umar, Azhar,Shafiq have all been in and out of the side on a frequent basis. whenever they get a chance all they have to think is how can I cement my place. It will be so as long as he is captain. On the contrary, Ganguly developed players like Yuvraj, Dhoni, Sehwag, Gambhir and Dhoni now is seeing Kohli, Rohit, Dhawan, Jadeja grow into fine players under him.

  • on April 1, 2014, 8:31 GMT

    1 more thing about umar, if you dry up his runs for few balls he will just throw it away.

  • on April 1, 2014, 8:31 GMT

    Agree with everything what you have said but unfortunately making or breaking a player goes down to the captain and management. What kind of environment they create in dressing room and what style of cricket they want to play will ultimately reflect on player's approach to the game. Its a fact that till Misbah is Pakistan captain he will force his style of batting and approach on these young talents and these young players gets influenced and try to play as instructed to keep themselves in playing eleven. This fear of being thrown out of the team if getting out while playing aggressively have raised so many confusion in all of our young batsman.

  • on April 1, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    batting position might be an issue but not whole problem with umar akmal. We have seen him throwing away his good starts even when he has plenty of overs left. so cant say its just that he is batting too low. He needs more coaching and grooming. He is not new any more. played 90+ odis. Umar , shehzad, Fawad will be taking responsibility of pak batting in couple of years now. Need more responsibility from these guys. Umar need to finish games. He still plays a bad shot out of no where after some good. Consistency is what matters in cricket.

    even at 5/6 position you get good chance to finish games for team. Dhoni is a prime example. He might be the best finisher .

    Regarding keeping, i also think that umar should not be keeping. His keeping is not that good. he also misses 1 off chance so no point effecting his batting because of keeping.

  • Waqar69 on April 1, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    Gr8!! article Osman. First time I saw him playing, I knew he is a star in making. Yes, there were times he was responsible of shooting himself on his foot but that is what you expect from any young fearless warrior. He is now maturing into a perfect blend of timely aggression coupled with periods of strategic retrieve.. He is going to be pillar of Pakistani batting in coming years along with most probably Ahmed Shahzad. I only wish that he is handled the way any shrewd player handles his trump card.

  • on April 1, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Haha! what ?...Umar Akmal is a very inconsistent player...just look at the way he got out against Bangladesh....enough said.

  • on April 1, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    Everyone's got it wrong, Pakistan Team is fine this is what makes them special everything is wrong for the past 10 years, selection, coach, training, no domestic cricket, but they turn up on the world stage and cause a mayhem. I reckon from the little to no resources Pakistan players have the outcome is amazing. If Pakistan players got training like UK or Aussie team gets I'm sure they would perform much better and have more confident, but performing like the way they do unprepared is what adds to the excitement. Nice article my friend but what you suggesting will never happen because if it did then no other team apart from Pakistan will ever win. No one can be perfect. And only the Game Cricket should win every time, not teams

  • csr11 on April 1, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    Osman, In my humble opinion,its not about changing to fit to Misbah or Akmal/Afridi.. I guess what pakistan needs is to find the happy balance between the erratic brilliance of one and the solid composure of the other..

  • on April 1, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    Umar Akmal is a prodigious talent in the mold of Wasim Raja. Even Imran Khan was never too sure of how to handle Wasim - it took the more street wise Mushtaq Mohammed to get the best out of Wasim . It is a cultural issue - and a captain like Misbah epitomizes the conservative Pakistani culture that does not quite know what to do with an Umar Akmal personality. Akmal belongs to an Aussie team that plays under Lehmann and Clarke, where Johnson's career has been resurrected to make him the most feared bowler. Akmal is of the era of Vivian Richards - when the West Indians played with rare abandon and flair - until they traded in their unique talents for the dull and dour approach under equally dull and non-creative coaches and captains. Along with Akmal, there is Wahab Riaz - the one fast bowler in Pakistan who could be a true threat in Test cricket. He is also kept out because his flamboyant personality is out of sync with the current flow of Pakistani conservatism.

  • on April 1, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    Poorly written article. Should have been more laconic. Had you spoken like this into a camera while doing a video? It would have been perfect. Better editing required.

  • arif1048 on April 1, 2014, 7:00 GMT

    i am little bit agree with your article,you have pointed out the right things but here the question arises why indians always criticize pakistani squard when ever they got an opportunity, let me talk on indian squad what youvrag has performed so far in the world cup made only 58 runs in his last match against Austaralia only,.Let me mention here that i love to see MS Dhoni and Youvraj in the field unfortunately they are not giving out put, no doubt they are great batsman.please first correct your home team before criticizing others.u would see that pakistan will win the world cup with same squad against india in the final. Last but not the least MS DHONI IS MY FAVORITE CRICKTER IN THE WORLD, what a player .....

  • on April 1, 2014, 6:33 GMT

    umar akmal is a talent in cricket. A brilliant player to watch when in song. I believe him, shehzad, sharjeel, Sohaib, alam, and Jameshed if groomed well will become paksitan's arsenal in the near future. These guys need to fire consistently

  • dpeerwani on April 1, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    @kapilesh23 We are all one community and you are free to comment wherever you like.

    Rohit Sharma was given a gazillion chances because he had potential. I understand he had become quite the joke before he realized that potential. With India everyone has a set role. Sehwag has the license to fire everytime, Dravid was the wall, Yousuf Pathan was the pinch hitter and so on. With Pakistan, we expect every batsman to be able to adjust to one end of the spectrum to another in a jiffy, not play to their talents. Not to mention that they are always playing with a sword hanging over their heads. How then will they go and dominate? Thats why all you see them do is nudge about tentatively.

    Umar's statement that after the India game they were given the license to go and express themselves was the best thing I heard in a long time. And the results are evident.

  • Arslan_Javed on April 1, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    He got all sort of shorts , no doubt but his selection of shorts is mediocre at times. And thats where he throws his wickets. it works for him in shorter formats but for tests he has to slow down and be careful in his short selection. Otherwise Afridi would have been our #1 test scorer.

  • on April 1, 2014, 5:51 GMT

    Dear sir I can't open the link to the shot :( could you pls (or anyone else ) please tell in which game and over was this umer akmal shot mentioned at the start? I will be eternally grateful.

  • vswami on April 1, 2014, 5:34 GMT

    He will play some good knocks from time to time especially in familiar playing conditions, but I doubt if he will be a consistent or great batsman as he simply doesnt have the temperament. He is a show pony who becomes full of himself when he plays a good knock, that automatically brings him down to earth. He is his biggest enemy.

  • cric925 on April 1, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    Unless Pakistan can bring coaches with brain and wisdom, and knowledge to to read each player's psychology separately, the tremendously talented players in Pakistan will never live up to their potential. Coaches in Pakistan are larger than life cricketers and always boast about "how we did in our times" and so-called "legends". Each nation has its own psychology and social background which moulds their habits and character. There has been ONLY ONE person in Pak's history who was actually a captain but more of a coach, and who read and handled his players very well, and he was Imran Khan. You can read the facts about team's performance during his captaincy. These days when a Pak player walks into the ground, he looks like a lost character who does not know how to play each ball. What Pak needs a strong sports psychologist who can make each player believe in himself that "he can do it". Curb a player's natural instinct and you have a puppet playing.

  • Waqs77 on April 1, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    "It is not that he needs to change himself to fit in. It is that Pakistan needs to change to fit him in" the last line says it all. He's is a ready made player for no. 3 position according to current day cricket requirements.

  • cisco420 on April 1, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    Nice try but Umer Akmal has a temperament of Afridi, so he can not bat more than 5 overs... normally. Once in a blue moon he will have a good innings so does Afridi. The amount of chances given to Umer Akmal are atrocious. If similar chances would have been given to any other player like Asad Shafiq or Hammad Azam they would be legends by now. Examples : Umer Akmal is snatching trophies from team mates after the series win, got fawad run out in the last over just to hit the winning shot. This boy needs to grow up first before he should be allowed to play for Pakistan, then again Afridi has played 350+ games and I still see him trying to hit the stars. Some things never change and thats the issue with Pakistani cricket. Irresponsible players and no accountability as they consider themselves bigger than the game it self.

  • on April 1, 2014, 4:34 GMT

    Not really. Umer Akmal will only perform on a day he will be lucky and there are serious questions about him being a team man. Pakistan needs to change but not for him. There are better players out there to look for, with ability and wiser heads.

  • SR84 on April 1, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    Great article Osman.

    I agree. It is time.

  • shashankqvivek on April 1, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    Umar has all the cricketing shots. But he is batting so low in ODI's. he should give up keeping(IMO) & bat at 3.

  • on April 1, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    Osman it is a good article as usual, but again, there is a thin line between fearlessness and irresponsibility, which is overlooked by youngest Akmal, more than his fans

  • kapilesh23 on April 1, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    I am Indian and not at all supposed to comment in the article related to Pakistan. However I felt compelled to post comment this time. All the articles relating to Pakistan are about the same thing, how Pakistani board and management screws their players all the time. However I was just thinking, aren't players themselves also have a responsibility towards their games and also motivation to excel. Is board responsible for everything bad all the time? For Indian players like Rohit Sharma who has excellent coaching staff we comment about his own lack of temperament. I was wondering if someone in Pakistan will talk the same for Pakistani players.

  • newnomi on April 1, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    Agree with you, Osman. Just wish our decision-makers will be sane enough to realize this. Also, it will be the cricket equivalent of Barca molding their team around Messi. Our team can then touch heights higher than that six off Morne.

  • on April 1, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    osman, what a writer you are sir.

  • IndianInnerEdge on April 1, 2014, 3:47 GMT

    A fab player and he has all the skills, very eyecatching , i feel the prob is with his temperament and anxiety to score quick....am sure he is blessed with so much talent that he will be going a long way....all the best

  • on April 1, 2014, 3:47 GMT

    I've even seen so called experts on local channels blast him for the sun screen he uses. It was written all over him that he was destined for big things. Yet he is sent at Number 6 in ODI's for reasons only known to Misbah.. It's funny that likes of Ahmed Shahzad, Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Anwar Ali and Asim Kamal have been ignored for Imran Farhat, Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal. No wonder then that Pakistan is not respected as the team it was during the 90's. Hopefully with the new management, sense will prevail. Today's cricket requires a healthy run rate through out the innings and not in the last ten overs only. Umar Akmal, Maqsood, Shahzad and Sharjeel are the only players in this line up to provide that.

  • criclover112 on April 1, 2014, 3:30 GMT

    I have always thought that he should play at number 3 (or 4). Your best batsmen should play at number 3 and he is currently Pakistan's best batsman in all forms of the game (with Misbah close behind).

  • on April 1, 2014, 3:25 GMT

    Umer Akmal must play more test matches to improve his skills. He is talented but unfortunately he was excluded for several test matches.

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  • on April 1, 2014, 3:25 GMT

    Umer Akmal must play more test matches to improve his skills. He is talented but unfortunately he was excluded for several test matches.

  • criclover112 on April 1, 2014, 3:30 GMT

    I have always thought that he should play at number 3 (or 4). Your best batsmen should play at number 3 and he is currently Pakistan's best batsman in all forms of the game (with Misbah close behind).

  • on April 1, 2014, 3:47 GMT

    I've even seen so called experts on local channels blast him for the sun screen he uses. It was written all over him that he was destined for big things. Yet he is sent at Number 6 in ODI's for reasons only known to Misbah.. It's funny that likes of Ahmed Shahzad, Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Anwar Ali and Asim Kamal have been ignored for Imran Farhat, Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal. No wonder then that Pakistan is not respected as the team it was during the 90's. Hopefully with the new management, sense will prevail. Today's cricket requires a healthy run rate through out the innings and not in the last ten overs only. Umar Akmal, Maqsood, Shahzad and Sharjeel are the only players in this line up to provide that.

  • IndianInnerEdge on April 1, 2014, 3:47 GMT

    A fab player and he has all the skills, very eyecatching , i feel the prob is with his temperament and anxiety to score quick....am sure he is blessed with so much talent that he will be going a long way....all the best

  • on April 1, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    osman, what a writer you are sir.

  • newnomi on April 1, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    Agree with you, Osman. Just wish our decision-makers will be sane enough to realize this. Also, it will be the cricket equivalent of Barca molding their team around Messi. Our team can then touch heights higher than that six off Morne.

  • kapilesh23 on April 1, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    I am Indian and not at all supposed to comment in the article related to Pakistan. However I felt compelled to post comment this time. All the articles relating to Pakistan are about the same thing, how Pakistani board and management screws their players all the time. However I was just thinking, aren't players themselves also have a responsibility towards their games and also motivation to excel. Is board responsible for everything bad all the time? For Indian players like Rohit Sharma who has excellent coaching staff we comment about his own lack of temperament. I was wondering if someone in Pakistan will talk the same for Pakistani players.

  • on April 1, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    Osman it is a good article as usual, but again, there is a thin line between fearlessness and irresponsibility, which is overlooked by youngest Akmal, more than his fans

  • shashankqvivek on April 1, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    Umar has all the cricketing shots. But he is batting so low in ODI's. he should give up keeping(IMO) & bat at 3.

  • SR84 on April 1, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    Great article Osman.

    I agree. It is time.