Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, Lahore January 24, 2009

Akmal unworthy of selection

Nothing illustrates more aptly the emptiness of whatever method and merit there is to Pakistan's current thinking than the continued selection of Kamran Akmal as a first-choice wicketkeeper
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So complacent to Kamran Akmal's failings have we become that the issue is no longer a debating point. © AFP
 

Nothing illustrates more aptly the emptiness of whatever method and merit there is to Pakistan's current thinking than the continued selection of Kamran Akmal as a first-choice wicketkeeper.

For about three years now, without exaggeration, Akmal has missed nearly a chance per match - an ODI - on average, sometimes more. This series has not bucked any trends. He missed a stumping today and dropped a catch in Karachi's second ODI. His glovework to spinners in particular is, to be blunt, appalling, as if the ball and gloves both carry negative charges. Clean takes are seen as often as dry eyes in an Obama speech.

Shahid Afridi in ODIs has now joined Danish Kaneria in Tests as a repeat victim of Akmal's ineptitude; catches, stumpings, byes given away like every day is Eid. Geoffrey Boycott's great grandmother was an even bet to complete today's stumping off Shoaib Malik (Stevie Wonder, according to bookies, was the odds-on favourite).

So complacent to his failings have we become that the issue is no longer a debating point. Sarfraz Ahmed was tried half-heartedly last year. He did little wrong but was dropped as soon as a new selection committee came in and nobody peeped. Akmal returned, as if to the manor born, amid cautious assessment that he had improved. It was tosh, swiftly evidenced in three missed chances against West Indies in Abu Dhabi.

If the issue is brought up, with selectors, team-mates, the captain even, it is said his batting makes up for it, as it did admittedly in Abu Dhabi. It is the curse Adam Gilchrist has left the game that poor wicketkeepers around the world are excused if only they know which side of the bat to hold. Akmal can bat, but that is not the same thing as making up for his follies. And anyway a player's value to a side is not a balance book that you even out at the end.

By scoring a fifty, you do not automatically make up for two catches missed earlier. A dropped chance is not just calculated in the runs made thereafter. The very mood, circumstances, and momentum of a game changes; if a wicketkeeper is the touchstone from whom fielders take their cue, then at least one reason why Pakistan are so inconsistent in the field is clear. At the risk of stating the obvious - and it obviously needs stating - a player's value is to be judged only by what he adds, not a total sum of his failings from his positives.

But if his batting is to be used as a persistent defence, if we are to go down that road, then there isn't much there either. In his last 49 matches, he averages 21 with a single hundred against Bangladesh and two fifties. Charitably, there are perhaps four match-changing ODI knocks in three years. So no, let's not go down that road.

Akmal had something when he first cemented his place in the side. In Australia, India, the West Indies and at home against England over 2004 and 2005, he was a good wicketkeeper as well as batsman. To spin, he was safe, often spectacular. But he hasn't had it for a long, long time. This may have been a poor patch sometime ago, but it is now turning into a horrid half-life. In this form, he might not catch a cold in an epidemic.

Yet as sure as day follows night, there will be no calls for replacing or resting Akmal for a while. For Shoaib Akhtar there will be screams, for Afridi there are perennial daggers. But Akmal will go on, Pakistan's Mr Teflon, on whom no criticism (or catch) sticks. It is said that he is particularly close to Malik. This much is true that Malik has repeatedly insisted Akmal be retained through this period. He even called him, a little while back, the second-best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world, after Gilchrist, which should invite defamation lawsuits from Kumar Sangakkara and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, to say nothing of Brendon McCullum.

Predictably, Malik defended his performance again today. "This is the same Akmal who has won Pakistan matches from difficult situations. Catches are dropped by all wicketkeepers and one or two in recent matches doesn't make a difference. We have to keep the future in mind and not put pressure on him," he said.

Sadly the thinking is emblematic not just of a cricket culture where merit is often wholly forsaken and mediocrity repeatedly rewarded for the sake of a personal connection, but of an entire nation.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • motherocker on January 28, 2009, 17:33 GMT

    I personally think Akmal is suffering from some psychological strain. Maybe it is to do with sarfraz ahmed, or maybe its just what pakistan are going through right now. I don't know what happened to him in the last three years...he's gone from hero to zero.

  • Kamran_Pakistan on January 26, 2009, 6:01 GMT

    I fully agree with you Usman, why don't the people who talk about Akmal's so-called batting ability think that he has lost Pakistan almost the double number of series than he has won matches, so for God's sake Malik don't be a partisan, you can so easily compromise the nation's expectations and interest in cricket,just rid of a player who doesn't even try to improve, who thinks he's permanent in the team and doesn't even admit his weaknesses.He should be ashamed of himself after what he has been doing consistently, look at Gilchrist, he dropped 2-3 catches over a period of 5-7 matches and made up his mind straight away that he wanted to quit and look here Akmal drops at least 1/match and yet you find him, the captain and even the team-selectors skeptic, come on give me a break, try anybody for keeping but not him no matter if it be Shoaib Akhtar.

  • kupp on January 25, 2009, 23:05 GMT

    Skuller, Dhoni has 1 hundred in 35 Test matches, Kamran has 5 hundreds in 38. Sorry to say, I rate Kamran way ahead as a batsman based on those numbers. Sangakarra now plays as a specialist batsman in Test Cricket for Sri Lanka, with Jayawardene playing as a specialist keeper - I won't compare Kamran's batting to Sangakarra's. But Kamran is a special player - and everyone, including Boucher, Sangakarra, Gilchrist, Haddin, Dhoni, McCullum and Prior ALL drop catches from time to time.

  • esesjay on January 25, 2009, 18:54 GMT

    I am sorry but one catch dropped by a wk is far too many and akmal has the ability to drop atleast two on average in every match that he plays. Pakistan needs a wk that can bat not a batsman that can keep. If the selectors think that he is a good enough batsman than forget wicket keeping put him in as a batsman but if they need a wk then get him far away from the cricket field as he is really not worthy of his place. Just one catch can and often does change the complexion of the game.

  • Jabmo12985 on January 25, 2009, 18:54 GMT

    Akmal is so bad he couldn't catch a cold need to pick someone else now

  • digitallyurz on January 25, 2009, 18:21 GMT

    You are making kamran akmal an escape goat. Yes, i myself is very upset on his wicketkeeping but he is no way fully responsible for letting Srilanks make 310 on that wicket....what would you say on the effectiveness of Afridi and his batting...he is a liability. Where is the concentration and resilience of Younis and Misbah ? Having seen the way Khurram batted in whole series....it has proven that his first ODI 83 odd score was a fluke..........Do we have to tell at this level that where to bowl in death overs........GUL and Sohail khan bowled rubbish to Dilshan..........Pakistani team needs a postmortem .

  • motherocker on January 25, 2009, 16:28 GMT

    A good enough solution to Akmal's continued disastrous form with the gloves is that he should be allowed to concentrate on his keeping for some time. The management should let him bat at number 8 or 9 for a short period of time(and I'm not saying do this based on his batting ability; he has won lots of matches for Pakistan with his batting in the most pressurized situations). When he will know that he is coming lower down in the order he will automatically concentrate more on his keeping. After experimenting with this, bring Akmal back to the opening spot or number 6. I know there are negative side-effects with this too; that Akmal's batting ability might weaken if he comes lower down the order, but if Pakistan want change in Akmal's capability, they need to take action NOW. Akmal is a good keeper, but if he wants to stay in the team, he has to be consistent and do some pretty hard work!

  • maze09 on January 25, 2009, 16:10 GMT

    He neither called Gilli a poor wicket-keeper nor he exonerated Akmal of being a poor player during last couple of years. There was a hint that teams are selecting keepers that aren't good enough but because they can bat a bit. He meant that Gilli has raised the bars for keepers not that he was poor lad. And don't get me started on Kumar and Dhoni, where is the statement that mentions that they have lower average than Akmal or he is a better player than them.

  • skuller on January 25, 2009, 14:42 GMT

    Hey Kupp. I dont know from where you got your statistics. Akmal does not have an average better than Dhoni or Sangakarra. Both of them can be selected in any world team without hesitation for just one of the 2 skills that they possess and are damn good at. Its because of people like you who think of just the country rather than the player that people like Akmal are still escaping the axe. Akmal is apalling and he must go for the betterment of Pakistan and World cricket. Cheers

  • kiruthikan on January 25, 2009, 14:10 GMT

    "It is the curse Adam Gilchrist has left the game that poor wicketkeepers around the world are excused if only they know which side of the bat to hold"... What? Gilchrist averaged more than 4 dismissals per test match (416 in 96) and more than 1.5 per ODI (472 in 287). In addition he scored 5570 test runs @ 47.6 and 9619 ODI runs @ 35.89. I won't never agree that Gilchrist left an impression that ever "poor keepers" can survive if they can bat. He was a brilliant keeper. How can Osman compare a keeper who dismissed more than a player in a match with Akmal who misses a batsman every match. The quoted statement should be rephrased i guess... otherwise a truly magnificent assessment this from Osman.

  • motherocker on January 28, 2009, 17:33 GMT

    I personally think Akmal is suffering from some psychological strain. Maybe it is to do with sarfraz ahmed, or maybe its just what pakistan are going through right now. I don't know what happened to him in the last three years...he's gone from hero to zero.

  • Kamran_Pakistan on January 26, 2009, 6:01 GMT

    I fully agree with you Usman, why don't the people who talk about Akmal's so-called batting ability think that he has lost Pakistan almost the double number of series than he has won matches, so for God's sake Malik don't be a partisan, you can so easily compromise the nation's expectations and interest in cricket,just rid of a player who doesn't even try to improve, who thinks he's permanent in the team and doesn't even admit his weaknesses.He should be ashamed of himself after what he has been doing consistently, look at Gilchrist, he dropped 2-3 catches over a period of 5-7 matches and made up his mind straight away that he wanted to quit and look here Akmal drops at least 1/match and yet you find him, the captain and even the team-selectors skeptic, come on give me a break, try anybody for keeping but not him no matter if it be Shoaib Akhtar.

  • kupp on January 25, 2009, 23:05 GMT

    Skuller, Dhoni has 1 hundred in 35 Test matches, Kamran has 5 hundreds in 38. Sorry to say, I rate Kamran way ahead as a batsman based on those numbers. Sangakarra now plays as a specialist batsman in Test Cricket for Sri Lanka, with Jayawardene playing as a specialist keeper - I won't compare Kamran's batting to Sangakarra's. But Kamran is a special player - and everyone, including Boucher, Sangakarra, Gilchrist, Haddin, Dhoni, McCullum and Prior ALL drop catches from time to time.

  • esesjay on January 25, 2009, 18:54 GMT

    I am sorry but one catch dropped by a wk is far too many and akmal has the ability to drop atleast two on average in every match that he plays. Pakistan needs a wk that can bat not a batsman that can keep. If the selectors think that he is a good enough batsman than forget wicket keeping put him in as a batsman but if they need a wk then get him far away from the cricket field as he is really not worthy of his place. Just one catch can and often does change the complexion of the game.

  • Jabmo12985 on January 25, 2009, 18:54 GMT

    Akmal is so bad he couldn't catch a cold need to pick someone else now

  • digitallyurz on January 25, 2009, 18:21 GMT

    You are making kamran akmal an escape goat. Yes, i myself is very upset on his wicketkeeping but he is no way fully responsible for letting Srilanks make 310 on that wicket....what would you say on the effectiveness of Afridi and his batting...he is a liability. Where is the concentration and resilience of Younis and Misbah ? Having seen the way Khurram batted in whole series....it has proven that his first ODI 83 odd score was a fluke..........Do we have to tell at this level that where to bowl in death overs........GUL and Sohail khan bowled rubbish to Dilshan..........Pakistani team needs a postmortem .

  • motherocker on January 25, 2009, 16:28 GMT

    A good enough solution to Akmal's continued disastrous form with the gloves is that he should be allowed to concentrate on his keeping for some time. The management should let him bat at number 8 or 9 for a short period of time(and I'm not saying do this based on his batting ability; he has won lots of matches for Pakistan with his batting in the most pressurized situations). When he will know that he is coming lower down in the order he will automatically concentrate more on his keeping. After experimenting with this, bring Akmal back to the opening spot or number 6. I know there are negative side-effects with this too; that Akmal's batting ability might weaken if he comes lower down the order, but if Pakistan want change in Akmal's capability, they need to take action NOW. Akmal is a good keeper, but if he wants to stay in the team, he has to be consistent and do some pretty hard work!

  • maze09 on January 25, 2009, 16:10 GMT

    He neither called Gilli a poor wicket-keeper nor he exonerated Akmal of being a poor player during last couple of years. There was a hint that teams are selecting keepers that aren't good enough but because they can bat a bit. He meant that Gilli has raised the bars for keepers not that he was poor lad. And don't get me started on Kumar and Dhoni, where is the statement that mentions that they have lower average than Akmal or he is a better player than them.

  • skuller on January 25, 2009, 14:42 GMT

    Hey Kupp. I dont know from where you got your statistics. Akmal does not have an average better than Dhoni or Sangakarra. Both of them can be selected in any world team without hesitation for just one of the 2 skills that they possess and are damn good at. Its because of people like you who think of just the country rather than the player that people like Akmal are still escaping the axe. Akmal is apalling and he must go for the betterment of Pakistan and World cricket. Cheers

  • kiruthikan on January 25, 2009, 14:10 GMT

    "It is the curse Adam Gilchrist has left the game that poor wicketkeepers around the world are excused if only they know which side of the bat to hold"... What? Gilchrist averaged more than 4 dismissals per test match (416 in 96) and more than 1.5 per ODI (472 in 287). In addition he scored 5570 test runs @ 47.6 and 9619 ODI runs @ 35.89. I won't never agree that Gilchrist left an impression that ever "poor keepers" can survive if they can bat. He was a brilliant keeper. How can Osman compare a keeper who dismissed more than a player in a match with Akmal who misses a batsman every match. The quoted statement should be rephrased i guess... otherwise a truly magnificent assessment this from Osman.

  • Fel_rocks_RD on January 25, 2009, 14:00 GMT

    Kamran's missed chances may have cost Pakistan the series! A good wicketkeeper should be able to keep well against both spin and pace. As such, his performances were sub-standard! Take Sri Lanka for instance, should Sangakkara be injured, then Dilshan can take over; if Dilshan is to be used as a bowler then Tharanga can keep wickets. All these 3 players are non-specialist wicketkeepers. So, Pakistan may take a leaf out of Sri Lanka's book, and employ a stand-in keeper; this may give them an opportunity to a play a fifth bowler or an extra allrounder at the expense of Akmal. Jimmy Adams, Rahul Dravid, Lou Vincent and Jimmy Maher all provided this tactical advantage to their captain, and they were very average behind the stumps. Even though I am not a Pakistan fan, I was saddened by Akmal's wicketkeeping.

  • kupp on January 25, 2009, 13:35 GMT

    The Pakistani supporters cannot be serious. This guy has 5 Test Hundreds in less than 40 test matches. The author is incorrect in trying to say that Dhoni and McCullum are ahead of Akmal as a wicketkeeper batsman - Akmal is indeed ahead, based on average and runs. He actually has the same number of hundreds like Boucher, but in far fewer matches. I think Malik's assessment is right, Akmal is indeed the No. 2 keeper/batsman in the world, and really and truly, all wicketkeepers drop catches, all over the world, including Dhoni and McCullum.

  • Bharat1981 on January 25, 2009, 13:07 GMT

    I am from India. I believe Kamran Akmal who used to be a gritty batsman is not consistent enough in batting and his wicket-keeping is also not upto the mark to command his continuous stay in the team. pakistan should look for an alternative for him. Also Malik is a good batsman but not a good captain. Pakistan has also been the most badly affected team because of the ICL sanction.

  • Nomiji on January 25, 2009, 9:31 GMT

    I completely agree with the article. I have been a fan of Shoib Malik, but if it is true that he is favoring such a demoralizing factor in the team than good bye to his fan club. I have been mentioning his incompetency to my friend's circle for long time. I am very happy that at least someone else is noticing his blunders as well. Pakistan cricket should not be compromised for such friendships. I strongly protest and appeal to the management to take the action immediately.

  • synergy on January 25, 2009, 9:18 GMT

    Pathetic performance really, I have never seen a Pakistani side perform so badly, I feel that we should now embark upon a complete change in the look of the team. Kamran must go, we have had enough of him and so must Afridi and Misbah. Younis should also relieved from the ODI out fit. Pakistan needs to re think about Kaneria as well as blood in some new youngster in the middle order. Sarfaraz is a fine wicket keeper and it is about time we draft him in as a regular member of the team. As regards the captain, I think Shoaib is not fit for the job and he should be immediately changed and Salman Butt could be a better choice with Shoaib playing as a batsman only. Some tough decessions have to be taken if PCB wants to put up a good side and it is about time that we start sellecting players on the basis of their performances and not just on reputations. Mr. Ejaz Butt and his team must deliver now instead of just talking and putting all the blames on the previous board.

  • jokerbala on January 25, 2009, 9:09 GMT

    Though I concur with few of the comments made here about getting back Yousuf and Razzak ,I think you guys are being a bit too harsh on your team.Any team can have a collapse against the Lankan bowling.They have not had a truly competitive series in along time and looked rusty, like playing at the beginning of season.With a lot more competitive cricket surely they'll become better.

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on January 25, 2009, 9:04 GMT

    Wicket-keeping is about feeling good and confident and generally, a keeper who struggles for more than 3-4 months needs to be seriously looked at. The argument that batsmen and bowlers are given more time to sort themselves out is true, but then thats the occupational hazard of wicket-keeping. I agree with Mr.Samiuddin that batting is taken as a convenient excuse to have a poor 'keeper in the side. On the other hand, we've seen Dhoni who began his career with too many fumbles but today he is probably the best wicket-keeper - simple and unspectacular. He has worked hard on his keeping and Akmal would do well to try the same. Complacency borne out of an assured place seems certainly to be the problem.

  • mdgajju on January 25, 2009, 8:19 GMT

    The problem with Kamran Akmal is very obvious. He is not a good wicketkeeper. The team needs a wicketkeeper who can bat. Pakistan is not short of talent. I am sure they can find a person who can bat and keep at the same time. If Akmal has to be in the team, than he should probably just concentrate on his batting and Pakistan look for a different keeper-batsman. I didn't see what was wrong with Sarfaraz Ahmed, he did a pretty good job for the national level, he is young which means he can go on for a long time and he even has a pretty good average in first-class cricket. Its obviously not possible to have a custom made perfect keeper-batsman, but having both qualities (batting and keeping) to a particular level should be the merit upon which these players should even be selected. In our team we cannot decide anything, be it openers, wicketkeepers, middle order batsman... We seem to be experimenting all the time. I don't think Akmal was all that bad when he was being sent as an opener but then the problem being that Pakistan cannot decide between Akmal, Younis, Afridi, Butt and Malik as to who should open. They have struggled enough and now finally managed to get a somewhat young squad. They need to decide once in for all as to who should take charge of what. We keep losing the good old players, and bring them back in the team a year before they are aged enough to retire. Misbah has now become old, Imran Nazir, Azhar Mahmood, Wajahatullah Wasti, Rana Naved... all wasted! We experiment in bringing youngsters all the time... We bring these new young boys and get rid of other youngsters like Fawad Alam and Sarfraz Ahmed. Pakistan has still not had a team that is good at each and every aspect of the game. We have had a weakness and I think its high time that we overcome our weaknesses and become strong. What happened yesterday was a shocker a disaster, but we cant blame it on one person... Nobody played well!

  • omer_admani on January 25, 2009, 7:26 GMT

    Akmal should have been removed from all forms of the game two years ago. Probably never has one man hurt the chances of his own team so consistently than Akmal. But this is Pakistan cricket... Malik is the other one that needs to go. What does the PCB see in him that so many players of high calibre such as Yousof have been compromised because of him. His captaincy is much below par and too defensive, his man-management is pathetic, and he doesn't deserve to be in the team. His insecurity against the moving ball makes him tamper the batting order again and again such that other players become sacrificial goats (Misbah and Akmal in the previous two matches). Akmal is no great batsman but it shows Malik's intent and insecurity: that he will compromise any player for his own sake. Wholesale changes are needed. This team will fade further into oblivion. This is the major reason why other teams don't visit Pakistan, and I have been saying that problems lie within the team, not outside.

  • alavi19 on January 25, 2009, 6:32 GMT

    I think after a long time Osman Samiuddin has pointed out a very important fault in our team. He is absolutely right in saying that the only line of defence for Akmal's selection is that he is a good batsman. My point is that if he is such a world class batsman then he can be selected in the side as a pure batsman. That is if the captain and the managament thinks that he cannot be replaced by any regular batsman in our squad. Second, he also points another important issue that why Sarfaraz Ahmed has been deprived of a chance to perform. Sarfaraz's performance in domestic cricket has been commendable and he has also shown signs of nurturing into a good batsman perhaps as good as Kamran. The point is that there was a time when Kamran Akmal replaced Moin Khan and at that time Moin was a doing great as batsman but not so great as keeper. The captain then said we will not revert back to Moin since we have to plan for the future. History is repeating itself!!!

  • sreeramm on January 25, 2009, 6:20 GMT

    Well.. i read someone saying that... he need to be retained bcoz of his batting capabilities. But let me remind you he is wicketkeeper and not a batsmen. If you are so interested in his batting consider him as a batsmen and let someone else take up the keeping responsibility. Even I appreciate his batting abilities and I am not against considering him as a keeper if he improves a LOOOOOT. Let me remind you that one of a cricket legend commented that one of the WORST POSSIBLE WAYS TO GET OUT IS GETTING OUT BY AKMAL. And i dont think this will add to Akmal's confidence. It is good to back him, but in right sense.

  • AsifMalik on January 25, 2009, 5:38 GMT

    Things like this always happen in the cricket. Their seamers indeed bowl superbly. I liked the way Sohail Khan and Umer Gul bowled yeterday. We should try to win matches by playing four seamers unless we discover some very good spinner who can perform consistently like Saqlain. I think Shoaib Malik's captaincy is the biggest problem that Pakistan Cricket is suffering right now. On a good bouncy wicket he didn't use any of his pacers from 19th till 42nd over. You got to change tactics when things aren't working. This is what we always do even in street cricket. He was more concerned about over rate or match fee than winning the series. Furthermore, I never understand how can one BCCI influence the whole world to ban its greatest players like Yousef. Where is the sanity? Its a player's right to play cricket where ever he wants to play. BCCI and other borad's should not be allowed to impose monoply over cricket. Its bad for thr future of the game.

  • true_cricket_fan on January 25, 2009, 5:22 GMT

    It is definitely a nice article listing the cons of having Akmal as Pakistan wicket-keeper in one-dayers, but I still feel that he should be given some more chances not just because of his history, but because of his reputation as an explosive batsman. Once he gets going, he becomes nearly improbable to stop! Regarding his wicket-keeping techniques, he needs to spend some more time in nets for stumpings, that should be it. He took two spectacular catches of Jayawardene and Kapugedara in the final one-dayer, so its just a matter of some more efforts on his stumpings! Also, Sarfraz is a good substitute for Akmal, but he needs to be given more match practice.

  • rahilkh on January 25, 2009, 4:41 GMT

    Great article, Osman. Here is what I think: Akmal can improve tremendously if he is benched for a period of time and Sarfraz is given a few matches. Athletes thrive under pressure - and Akmal has shown that with his batting. I am sure once Akmal is put under the gun viz-a-viz his wicket keeping, he will get his act together. A fair amount of competition is needed to get the true Akmal out, instead of letting complacency take hold permanently as it is done currently by giving him a free pass for life. Pakistan cricket is in a sad state of affair and wicket-keeping controversy doesn't seem to be at the top of everyone's mind.

  • snarge on January 25, 2009, 4:40 GMT

    Fair points made in this article, though the humour and the analogies are pathetic. I wonder if the same applies to Haddin, whose batting has the potential to be magnificent, but whose keeping has been truly farcical.

  • MeAsFan on January 25, 2009, 4:31 GMT

    Good atricle bu its' not only falut on one single player. Right now in Pakistan Team there are few guys who are been load for a team rather than assests. Kamaran Akmal and Shahid Afridi should drop from a team long long time ago, both this players are not performing from 2-3 years and then also why they are in team i can't understand. There are player like Fawad Alam who can replace Sahid Afridi but also they are not going with Fawad who is genuine top order batsman and effective bolwer. Younis Khan, Misbah also did not deserve place in a team. Younis is great batsman for test match but he is not performing same in ODI match his ODI record shows that.

  • Arachnodouche on January 25, 2009, 4:18 GMT

    I am flabbergasted that Pakistan went from the likes of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and even Waqar Younis to a nobody like Shoaib Malik. How on earth could this Saqlain ripoff manage to get the captaincy? He has zero personality, zero nous and below-par skills as a cricketer. Pakistan cricket, two words for you guys: hammer, foot.

  • palfeb3_1987 on January 25, 2009, 4:14 GMT

    The pakistanis support their cricketers instead of bullying them. To be fair, Kamran Akmal was the one who won pak most of matches against WI last year. In tense situations he and shoaib malik were the ones who showed competence to complete a 3-0 drubbing of west indies. Did any of u guys below here speak a word about that?. Yes akmal didnt do well with the gloves. But pakistan completely outclassed lanka in the 1st ODI. Show some grace guys, these pakistani cricketers are completely out of touch. Against lanka without match practice, u cant expect magic to be done. This is the first chance they have got to play in their home after an eternity. So dont just explode. Pakistan would return to form. I would have loved to watch pak play against india in their home but for the politics.

  • mdgajju on January 25, 2009, 3:56 GMT

    Undoubtedly one of the best articles related to Pakistani Cricket's state at the moment. Regarding, peoples comments on Shahid Afridi. I am not saying this only because I am a fan of his but because I am a fan of the sport. Afridi brings excitement in the game, he is a crowd puller. He is not in the team for his batting but for his bowling. He is the second best bowler according to the rankings for Pakistan today. Besides, which batsman goes down to bat at No.7 and saves your team. Yes, his batting form is a disappointment but for the team, his bowling is required. I wouldn't use the word "mediocre" for his bowling, because in all the previous matches his economy has been very good. He is called an all-rounder because people enjoy watching him bat, regardless of the fact that he disappoints so often. We as the audience always overshadow his batting over his bowling. However, I absolutely agree with Mr. Osman that Akmal doesn't deserve the number of chances that he has been getting...

  • worldaudience on January 25, 2009, 3:01 GMT

    Great article,Your problem will be solved if u do couple of things.First of all remove the incompetent Mallick from the captaincy.He looks so helpless and lacks imagination.It is inexplicable to carry on bowling the three spinners,though the batsman carry on piling up runs.2nd thing when Sahid Afridi last won a match for u ,by bat????When he last scored a fifty???So he is playing as a bowler,Than r not there better bowler in Pakistan???I am sorry to say the state of cricket in Pakistan is same as state of country at this moment.

  • rohanbala on January 25, 2009, 2:25 GMT

    The 2-0 defeat against Srilanka should sound as a rude "wake up" call for the Pakistan selectors. When fielding a team such as the current Pakistan side in which some of the players just make up for the numbers, winning is totally out of question. Some of the players like Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akthar and their Captain Shoaib Malik do not merit a place in the side. Unless the selectors find a new set of atleast five to six players, the team will continue to lose even to mediocre opposition.

  • saccs76 on January 25, 2009, 1:34 GMT

    With all this going on, what the hell is Javed Miandad doing with his new posting in PCB ????

  • mhaque on January 25, 2009, 0:35 GMT

    Pakistan cricket reached a fork when it had a choice between Lawson and Whatmore as coach. Unfortunately, as always, PCB made the wrong choice.

  • mhkarne on January 24, 2009, 23:40 GMT

    Mr Sumiuddin why have you spared useless Afridi. He is just as guilty as Akmal. Afridi has not had a decent batting innings in a long long time. Why is he still in the team? To be fair, you should not be selective in your criticism because there are a few deadwood in the team. Unless team selection is based on merit and not on past performance, Pakistan cricket will never improve.

  • Go_F.Alonso on January 24, 2009, 23:39 GMT

    That's a brave title for an article.

    Also, I know you can't name all but in my opinion Boucher should be right up there to file the defamation case.

    It's a tight fight between Akmal, Ramdin and Prior - who's the worst?

  • ahabib on January 24, 2009, 22:20 GMT

    Akram is not the only one unworthy of selection. What is Afridi doing in this team? Clearly he is being played as a specialist bowler, since to be called an all rounder you have to be able to score some runs. And it has been a long long time since Afridi showed any ability to score runs. And he is really a very mediocre bowler. No wonder his IPL team wants to get rid of him. Mr. Samiuddin laments that "Sadly the thinking is emblematic not just of a cricket culture where merit is often wholly forsaken and mediocrity repeatedly rewarded for the sake of a personal connection.." In his longstanding and vigorous championing of the utterly mediocre Afridi Mr. Samiuddin has done just that.

  • seeko555 on January 24, 2009, 22:08 GMT

    Good atricle. I hope a defamation lawsuit will soon be filed by MS Dhoni and Sangakkara and of course not to forget Boucher and McCullum as well.

    If these guys don't drop Afridi and Akmal by next few games, I'm going to stop watching cricket. Misbah-ul-Haq has never won a game for Pakistan, yet he's in the side. Honestly speaking, good players like Razzak and Yusuf are Pakistan's ultimate need. Our team is crap without the ICL players. Razzak should be the captain of the team. It just hurts to see a star player like him sitting out. TOtally disappointing and rattling.

  • Imraniqbal on January 24, 2009, 21:37 GMT

    Shame on you Malik. Not because you lost the final but how you lost it. You should give up captaincy. If you like to be captain then you should go and play somewhere in the street and be captain there. You dont know what the captaincy is. Akhtar and Tanvir shouldd have not been dropped but since you became captain you have problems with all the seniors and Akhtar is one of those seniors. I dont know what the PCB is doing. They cant choose a good captain, they cant select good team and openers. They all are there for their wages, not for Pakistan cricket. It is enough now. We are lucky that no team is willing to come to Pakistan otherwise we were going to loose against them as well. Thanks god. India did not come. Pakistan should play only against Zimbabwe, Kenya, Bangladesh and Scotland.

  • themikelover on January 24, 2009, 20:51 GMT

    hey guys on this matter of the sub-continent of how players don't get picked on their merit but their contacts, I feel that situation only applies for Pakistan. To be honest now in India there is plenty of new blood and they are all almost geting a chance. Now what do i put this down to is good selectors and a captian who really does care about the country. Now the selectors have been willing to go with the captain and get some new blood. As far as the captain goes he is not picking his friends and instead picking anybody that has talent. Even his friends admitted that so it's going good. If Pakistan really want to help themselves you have to get selectors that are not affected by contacts and just want to put out a team that can win. Another thing should be to sack Malik, seriously lets face it he is really picking guys he knows and are close to him. It has become so obvious now that its just really embarassing for Pakistan to go on like this. For pakistan to succeed they must do this

  • love_of_the_game on January 24, 2009, 20:23 GMT

    Great article... Akmal has been utterly useless in the past years. The board and the public has nothing to do but to look for errors in Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, and other players of the team. They need to concentrate more on what really is wrong with the team: AKMAL!!!! Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan because the Pakistani team lagged in every aspect of the game. This problem can be solved if the selectors looked through Pakistan searching for new talent or even by re-instating contracts with the Pakistani players in the ICL league. Imran Nazir has been in top-notch form. An all-rounder like Razzaq would be a great asset. Having all these sources and contacts to get your way helps the team in no way. Intekhab and the new selectors have failed to bring the expected change.

  • veeezel on January 24, 2009, 20:17 GMT

    Mr Osman I know akmal is having bad time behind the stumps,but I have not seen any better replacement so far. I believe shoaib malik is not a captan.Pakistan has always been led by great players,that cannot be said about malik.Anjum and Afridi do not deserve their place in the side.Iwas very impressed by u19 attack who beat india in the final few years back.I have not seen any of those guys since.our domestic structure has become worst then like of zim or kenya.our board have become so impotent that we have not played a single test match in 2008.we did not have any away series arranged in2008.what a joke.we took so much dictation from our neighbours.we banned our best players while english countys allowed sa&aus players to play in countys&what our neighbours have given us in return,slap on our faces.More pitty is that we have not learn any thing from our experiences and i am very sorry to say that we will never learn.akhtar is a prime example how much we have waisted on him.

  • hank on January 24, 2009, 20:14 GMT

    Hi! Osman I liked what you had said about Akmal ,the only problem we have with Pakistan Cricket is most all the players do not realize themselves that when is the right time to quit their careers and they for some reason get forced out of the team and for a long time they are bitter towards PCB ,coaches ,players etc almost they like to blame other people rather than looking at reality which is knowing when to quit and leave the game with head held high, as far as I am concern all the senior players in the team have lost the touch and should be retiring soon as possible never mind about how a senior player will be a good leader obviosly team has had good share of youngsters who have tried but they always had to fight for their place in the team because of the senior players who are still dragging their career, so lets pray that all the senior players move on with their different career and give youngsters a chance .....Thank You...

  • idhlamini on January 24, 2009, 20:11 GMT

    I am from South Africa. Akmal is useless & must go, period. I'm amazed that you don't mention the wicket-keeper world record holder MARK BOUCHER above/before Dhoni & McCullum. See what he's doing to the Aussies. In both SAfrica wins he was @ the crease with vital contributions when it mattered. His glove work is definitely better than Gilchrist, Dhoni, or NcCullum! By the way Afridi, Malik, Younus Khan, Shoaib Akhtar should all be DUMPED. Maliks captaincy is pathetic. He is NOT a thinking captain. Today he allowed the SL batsman to milk 5-6 runs per over for more than 20 overs! I cannot see Pakistan beating New Zealand even.....yes they'll only beat the West Indies, Zimbabwe & Bangladesh. Good luck

  • asifdoc on January 24, 2009, 19:26 GMT

    I agree 100%--I feel like I have been alone in pleading for the selectors to pay attention to Akmal's performance over the last few years. I will go one step further than you; if you look back at almost every single test match that we have lost in the last 3-4 yrs, you will find that Akmal has missed an important catch or stumping in EVERY one of them, usually a star player who goes on to score a century. This is not an exaggeration. It seems that the more important the occasion, the greater the player, the more likely it is that Akmal will crack.My question is simple: what does a keeper have to do in order to get dropped? I guarantee that Akmal meets any criteria that selectors can conceieve.

    Sarfraz Ahmed has shown that he is a better keeper and an able batsman. Furthermore,he was the captain of the under-19 teams that won the world cup for Pakistan. In Shoaib Malik's own logic,what better choice could there be for the future???

    Someone please figure out a way!

  • umairhuda on January 24, 2009, 19:23 GMT

    A very nice Article from Mr. Osman Samiuddin but who cares? do PCB care? Captain (who is not able to play in test cricket) cares? selectors? nobody I think. Pakistan cricket has never been in good hands, now Javed Miandad is there but I don't think they will utilise his cricket knowledge as maximum as possible. Kamran Akmal been out of form for a long time and they should rest him for few matches, Misbah and Afridi too rest for couple of matches as well. Should solve the ICL problem and call Mohd. Yousuf, Razzaq, Sami, Imran Nazir.. Why should we follow BCCI?? where they are putting us?? For God sake think for Pakistan future and call some new players in the team as well.

  • Stingrayopp on January 24, 2009, 19:19 GMT

    Assalamulaikum Osman Vhaiya, I am from Bangladesh, loving my own country,thereafter Pakistan is my second crazy team always. I appreciated your concern about Kamran Akmal, But, Pakistan Cricket Board Officials should immediately bring on Dave Whatmore as a coach, then change the Pakistani team with few replacement. Imran Nazir, Razzak & Shahid Nazir should be in and Muhammad Yousuf will be in Test. Patriotism,discipline,seriousness,respect & honesty are the important elements to operate the key to achieve grand success whenever you play any kind of fare & competetive games. Good Luck Pakistan.

  • fsq09 on January 24, 2009, 19:07 GMT

    Well, cant argue much with the article, But me personally being an ultra optimistic supporter of PAKISTAN. I would just hope they get it right and I have my complete support with Akmal, but actually I am disappointed... Well, talking away from the topic.. I guess Pakistan needs some All-rounders like Razzaq, coz there batting is just not of the quality.... The team of 2005 was just perfect with Butt opening with Akmal and then the strong younis, yousuf and Inzi followed by one of the best hitting lower order in Malik, Afridi and razzaq and a bit of rana followed by akhtar and another fast bowler.... just the perfect balanced team.. even a afridi failure was affordable... But here, Butt could not always do the scoring, Manzoor doesnt look the best of players, odd failures for younis and malik... misbah have several things to work on... and no real runs from Afridi and Akmal..... Creating a team like 2005 could be a world beating material..

  • asim_ah on January 24, 2009, 18:37 GMT

    So true! Words from my heart...thankyou!

    Its a sorry situation, they have made this lovely game a joke here in Pakistan, I wish we could again see the winning attitude of the past.

    The answer might be an aggressive captain. But sadly, there is no one in the present lineup to take up the job.

  • moosabhai45 on January 24, 2009, 18:31 GMT

    Akmal needs to go and that is the end of discussion. the oen thign i didnt understand in the beginning of the match is how can you justify dropping two of the best bowlers you have sohail tanvir and shoaib akhtar in conditions that are friendly for pacers. i knw they didnt do gud in the first 2 matches but no like the new bowlers did any gud. they all went for runs. and mayb who knows shoaib akhtar and sohail tanvir might have found a couple of wickets in this match and found their rhythym. the PCB is even though being run by former cricketers needs to start thinking outside the box and get gud players inside the team. we need new and better talent in the batting and bowling department

  • CiMP on January 24, 2009, 18:14 GMT

    Pak selectors need to relook at the team composition. On the basis of consistent performance and reliability Salim Malik, Shahid Afridi and Kamran Akmal need to be dropped. Shoaib Akhthar has always been a distraction - a prima donna - who can be sacrificed for the sake of a settled pace attack and discipline.

    They need to convince Younis Khan to take over as the skipper and failing which give it to Mohd. Yousuf - who anyway wants it.

    A strong Pak side adds excitement to world cricket and will make the subcontinent a super power of cricketing skills.

  • Sanauri on January 24, 2009, 17:57 GMT

    Osman I absolutely agree with you and your views but I think it's not because of Kamran Akmal or Afridi that Pakistan lost. It was because of Shoaib Malik that Pakistan lost. To him it does not matter who is giving his 100% in domestic circuit it's all about his personal relationships. I personally think there are three players he has asked to work just hard enough to get in first 15 players and then it's upto him to get them in first 11, Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq. It never matters to him how bad they are performing or should I be saying even trying to perform (they nerver even try to perform). May be every one has kept Akmal's and Afridi's bad performances a secret from Shoaib Malik. Shoaib Malik as well as PCB needs good pairs of glasses to see talented new comers like Umar Amin, Mohammed Aamir, Anwar Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mansoor Amjad and Nasir Jamshed. God Bless Pakistan cricket. Domestic cricket structure must also be blamed for repeated failures.

  • SMAmmarSohail on January 24, 2009, 17:38 GMT

    Great Article!!! Whole team should be changed. There is a lot of talent in Pakistan. PCB should hunt for it.

  • Mohammad.Imran.Hyder on January 24, 2009, 17:30 GMT

    Yes, so true that Akmal has become habitual of dropping catches and smiles while looking his empty cloves in every match and then score some runs through his bat. Infact his primary job is to keep wickets and ensure every chance produced by the bowler taken safely in which he has been failing since last 3 years. I wonder what good selectors seeing in Akmal and keep letting him play in every match. It is a time to give chance Sarfaraz to prove himself and give some rest to Akmal. I wish Pak team for better prospect without any nepotism.

  • Rajlakshmanan123 on January 24, 2009, 17:20 GMT

    Dear Osman .Hi.. I loved your article on Mohammed yousuf following his brilliant run in 2006.My concern is whether the pakistan selectors pay any attention to what is writen in the media particularly in light of the recent award of contracts to their players.I do hope the situation would change to make pakistan a srong team that they usually are.

  • mhraja on January 24, 2009, 17:20 GMT

    Great Article Osman, I totally agree with you and you have presented the reason right that he is in team only because of Malik. Malik is continuously defending Akmal's poor form and now its been two year that he has done nothing for the national team but gathered lot of embarrassment. I think its time that PCB should realize that personal interest of captain should be put aside and interest of team should be the priority. I think its time to end Malik's regime as captain, he have had enough and everyone knows what he is capable of. His hapless attitude on the field and his favor to his friends is quite visible now. Akhtar is also done with his cricket, Gul, Tanvir and Anjum can take care of bowling until arrival of Asif. Arafat can be played as an allrounder. I hope Mr. Ijaz Butt get ICL players problem resolved and Pakistan should have likes of Yousaf and Razzaq back in team. I hope this series will awake PCB and the will bring Green Machine to life, Good Luck Pakistan!!!!

  • wajihIBA on January 24, 2009, 17:04 GMT

    FINALLY, someone writes a piece questioning the continued, unexplainable faith in Akmak's ineptitude.... Would it help if we were to start an online petition seeking his removal? Wish it could happen like that!!!

  • Fahd on January 24, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    I dont understand why Shoaib Malik is the captain. He does not deserve a place in the team, as Mohammad Yousuf so rightly pointed out recently. Why did they tinker with the lineup, Salman Butt playing well in the series didnt need to come in at 3. Not to mention the Left/Right opening combo with Mansoor.

    I did not agree with your article about Iftikar Anjum, and today we saw it. He is mediocre & good days are a rarity. Shahid Afridi does not deserve a place in the squad. Fawad Alam just made 296 not out in domestic cricket. He should be played more, if as according to Malik " We have to keep the future in mind". This can apply rightly to Fawad.

    The problem is the team is not selected on merit. Even Abdul Qadir recently was criticized for having his son selected instead of a overseas player in the domestic matches. His son got three scores of 0 and one score of 1. So Nepotism runs in the country as Pak cricket is no different. We need Mo Yousuf back to bolster the middle order.

  • am.upadhyay on January 24, 2009, 16:49 GMT

    Osman hi, my name is amit and I'm from India. I love your writing a whole lot, especially your turn of phrase which I have always found delightful. I know this defeat will not go down well with Pakistan fans, and heads will roll. But I'm afraid I don't agree with your assessment of Akmal's batting, if only for that hundred he got against us from a scoreline that read 39 for 6 on a greentop with Irfan breathing fire. That 112 was as good a piece of batting under pressure as any by any south asian. But if he has indeed become a bit of a goalkeeper, why not bat him at no. 6 as a specialist in the tests?

  • shiraz143 on January 24, 2009, 16:22 GMT

    Great Article. Finally you talk about Akmal, It was about time. Can you also talk about Shahid Afridi and why is he still in the team. Convince me why he should be in the team. Is he that good of a spinner that there is no other spinner in pakistan. We all know he can't bat. The amount of innings he plays any body will do a fifty here and there. It was funny if you see the batting average of Afridi and you compare it with Iftikhar Anjum you will not see much difference. Shoaib Malik should be hammered for not playing players like Fawad Alam who consistently scores in the domestic season and for Pakistan. He doesn't play just so that Shahid bhai can play. Tell me how many players in the team can make 298 runs not out in the domestic game like fawad just did.There should be a review on players like Akmal, afridi, Yonis Khan and Akhtar. We should consider guys like Fawad, Sarfraz, Anwar Ali, Faisal Iqbal and many more. Our team will never win till we have names playing and not talent

  • saalta on January 24, 2009, 16:10 GMT

    Whole team is unworthy. It is fortunate for Pakistan that they did not play last 10 to 12 months with big team.If they did they would lost almost every match. Actually they should play only with Bangladesh & Zim. not with other top teams. Neither Intekhab nor Lawson could do any thing.

  • Margin_of_Safety on January 24, 2009, 16:04 GMT

    Love your writing style...its a good read.... but such is the situation anywhere in the sub-continent....where its not your merit but the contacts you have that do matter!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Margin_of_Safety on January 24, 2009, 16:04 GMT

    Love your writing style...its a good read.... but such is the situation anywhere in the sub-continent....where its not your merit but the contacts you have that do matter!

  • saalta on January 24, 2009, 16:10 GMT

    Whole team is unworthy. It is fortunate for Pakistan that they did not play last 10 to 12 months with big team.If they did they would lost almost every match. Actually they should play only with Bangladesh & Zim. not with other top teams. Neither Intekhab nor Lawson could do any thing.

  • shiraz143 on January 24, 2009, 16:22 GMT

    Great Article. Finally you talk about Akmal, It was about time. Can you also talk about Shahid Afridi and why is he still in the team. Convince me why he should be in the team. Is he that good of a spinner that there is no other spinner in pakistan. We all know he can't bat. The amount of innings he plays any body will do a fifty here and there. It was funny if you see the batting average of Afridi and you compare it with Iftikhar Anjum you will not see much difference. Shoaib Malik should be hammered for not playing players like Fawad Alam who consistently scores in the domestic season and for Pakistan. He doesn't play just so that Shahid bhai can play. Tell me how many players in the team can make 298 runs not out in the domestic game like fawad just did.There should be a review on players like Akmal, afridi, Yonis Khan and Akhtar. We should consider guys like Fawad, Sarfraz, Anwar Ali, Faisal Iqbal and many more. Our team will never win till we have names playing and not talent

  • am.upadhyay on January 24, 2009, 16:49 GMT

    Osman hi, my name is amit and I'm from India. I love your writing a whole lot, especially your turn of phrase which I have always found delightful. I know this defeat will not go down well with Pakistan fans, and heads will roll. But I'm afraid I don't agree with your assessment of Akmal's batting, if only for that hundred he got against us from a scoreline that read 39 for 6 on a greentop with Irfan breathing fire. That 112 was as good a piece of batting under pressure as any by any south asian. But if he has indeed become a bit of a goalkeeper, why not bat him at no. 6 as a specialist in the tests?

  • Fahd on January 24, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    I dont understand why Shoaib Malik is the captain. He does not deserve a place in the team, as Mohammad Yousuf so rightly pointed out recently. Why did they tinker with the lineup, Salman Butt playing well in the series didnt need to come in at 3. Not to mention the Left/Right opening combo with Mansoor.

    I did not agree with your article about Iftikar Anjum, and today we saw it. He is mediocre & good days are a rarity. Shahid Afridi does not deserve a place in the squad. Fawad Alam just made 296 not out in domestic cricket. He should be played more, if as according to Malik " We have to keep the future in mind". This can apply rightly to Fawad.

    The problem is the team is not selected on merit. Even Abdul Qadir recently was criticized for having his son selected instead of a overseas player in the domestic matches. His son got three scores of 0 and one score of 1. So Nepotism runs in the country as Pak cricket is no different. We need Mo Yousuf back to bolster the middle order.

  • wajihIBA on January 24, 2009, 17:04 GMT

    FINALLY, someone writes a piece questioning the continued, unexplainable faith in Akmak's ineptitude.... Would it help if we were to start an online petition seeking his removal? Wish it could happen like that!!!

  • mhraja on January 24, 2009, 17:20 GMT

    Great Article Osman, I totally agree with you and you have presented the reason right that he is in team only because of Malik. Malik is continuously defending Akmal's poor form and now its been two year that he has done nothing for the national team but gathered lot of embarrassment. I think its time that PCB should realize that personal interest of captain should be put aside and interest of team should be the priority. I think its time to end Malik's regime as captain, he have had enough and everyone knows what he is capable of. His hapless attitude on the field and his favor to his friends is quite visible now. Akhtar is also done with his cricket, Gul, Tanvir and Anjum can take care of bowling until arrival of Asif. Arafat can be played as an allrounder. I hope Mr. Ijaz Butt get ICL players problem resolved and Pakistan should have likes of Yousaf and Razzaq back in team. I hope this series will awake PCB and the will bring Green Machine to life, Good Luck Pakistan!!!!

  • Rajlakshmanan123 on January 24, 2009, 17:20 GMT

    Dear Osman .Hi.. I loved your article on Mohammed yousuf following his brilliant run in 2006.My concern is whether the pakistan selectors pay any attention to what is writen in the media particularly in light of the recent award of contracts to their players.I do hope the situation would change to make pakistan a srong team that they usually are.

  • Mohammad.Imran.Hyder on January 24, 2009, 17:30 GMT

    Yes, so true that Akmal has become habitual of dropping catches and smiles while looking his empty cloves in every match and then score some runs through his bat. Infact his primary job is to keep wickets and ensure every chance produced by the bowler taken safely in which he has been failing since last 3 years. I wonder what good selectors seeing in Akmal and keep letting him play in every match. It is a time to give chance Sarfaraz to prove himself and give some rest to Akmal. I wish Pak team for better prospect without any nepotism.

  • SMAmmarSohail on January 24, 2009, 17:38 GMT

    Great Article!!! Whole team should be changed. There is a lot of talent in Pakistan. PCB should hunt for it.