Pakistan in West Indies 2013 July 6, 2013

Will give wicketkeeping my best shot - Umar Akmal

ESPNcricinfo staff

Umar Akmal has returned to the Pakistan side, possibly in the role of a wicketkeeper-batsman, for their tour of West Indies later this month after being dropped for the Champions Trophy. Having donned the gloves in only seven of his 71 ODI matches, he is aware of the difficulty ahead of him.

"I've played a lot of cricket for Pakistan as a batsman and to be handed the responsibility of having to also keep wicket is a tough ask," Akmal said in an interview with Pak Passion. "But sometimes you have to do things outside your comfort zone in sport and, if the selectors, captain and coach want me to keep wicket then I am prepared to do that and to give it my best shot."

"I've always enjoyed batting and fielding," he said. "(But) Bowling and wicketkeeping have never really been in my plans. We had enough wicketkeepers in our household and I was never needed as a keeper when we (Umar, Kamran and Adnan Akmal) practised as youngsters."

Pakistan came away from the Champions Trophy without a single win and their batting, except for Misbah-ul-Haq, was consistently brittle. To deal with this, the selectors dropped out-of-form batsmen Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat and Kamran Akmal from the 16-man squad bound for the Caribbean. In Kamran's absence, Umar has been slotted in as a wicketkeeper-batsman, with Mohammad Rizwan as backup.

"Everybody had an opinion that to pick a side that can explore opportunities, we would need a wicketkeeper who is also a full-time batsman," Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore said. "We will be working with Umar to ensure he gets as much practice as he can to become a player who can fulfill both roles. We have seen this with South Africa, this is also what Rahul Dravid did for India years ago. So we need to understand what we are trying to achieve with this and we have to be patient after giving him a chance."

Akmal, who has been criticised for his needless aggression, considered his exclusion from the Champions Trophy as a "strange and surprising decision". His last match-winning contribution was in the World Twenty20 last year, when he played finisher during a chase of 136 against South Africa. He fared poorly in Pakistan's domestic season as well, struggling to 79 runs in six List A matches, which limited his appearance in the national side to only two international matches in 2013.

"It was very disappointing to miss out playing in such a prestigious tournament," he said. "I admit that at times I've played some reckless shots that I didn't need to play, but when you are out in the middle, in front of thousands of fans at the ground and millions watching on television, you want to do your best and entertain, and that sometimes leads to mistakes."

Akmal took his exclusion from the side as a lesson and plans to make the necessary changes to ensure he becomes a permanent fixture in the Pakistan team.

"The Champions Trophy snub was a kick in the groin. Whilst it was a setback, it also made me think about my approach to batting and the changes I needed to make as a batsman," he said. "I think you'll see a more mature Umar Akmal at the crease on the tour of the Caribbean and in the future. I don't think there will be a total overhaul of my approach, style and shot selection, but there will be some changes."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    Team Pakistan needs more players who are capable of breaching the 30-yard circle and reaching the boundary.

  • asad on July 11, 2013, 3:34 GMT

    in my opinion the this should be the playing 11 for the first odi against west indies 1. nasir jamshed 2. ahmed shahzad 3. umer amin 4. umar akmal 5. misbah-ul-haq 6.mohammad hafeez 7. shahid afridi 8.wahab riaz 9. saeed ajmal 10. junaid khan 11.mohammad irfan

  • Jonny on July 10, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    Talent doesn't at all make you great. Its if you can deliver at the biggest stage that counts. Umar Akmal has been an inconsistent batsman always ups and downs. One of the few decent youngsters Pakistan currently has.

  • ju on July 9, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    If we want to improve our standard of cricket we should improve it from the school level. Students could be given full scholarships to universities if they are good in cricket in that way we can find good players.

  • B on July 9, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    I cannot believe that ended up as featured comment. Umar Akmal was far from sent in as a batter at nr 6 all the time. His problem is what he says in the article above that he felt the pressure from the crowd - never a good sign. He is too hotheaded and just wants to copy Afridi. The major way the management didnt treat the situation right was by sending him to bat even after he ruined his wicket by irresponsible shot. That way he didnt have to take responsibility for his actions! That is a HUGE problem within PCB. Favouritsm, nepotism etc. On the other hand a person like Fawad Alam with highest average has to perform twice more than he should have to in order to get a chance. And they dont understand this type of charachter either. You need 4-5 people who perform as a team and one of those individualists, in Pakistans case maybe two. But PCB have failed that and the cost is that we see people like Umar Akmal get the change no matter what he does. VERY irritating.

  • Dummy4 on July 9, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    Wi will not be an easy team to beat....the pakistani batsmen have to learn to occupy the crease...

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2013, 22:22 GMT

    Mohammed Rizwan is a brilliant keeper-batsman! So why does Umar Akmal have to take the keeper role full-time? His presence in the field is awesome and keeping might affect his batting

  • Azure on July 8, 2013, 17:48 GMT

    Important thing, THIS TEAM MUST BE GIVEN CHANCES AND PLAYERS SHOULD HAVE THE CONFIDENCE THAT THey ARE WITH THE TEAM FOR A LONG HAUL. Both fans and management should show maturity and let players to perform for at least 3 series before making a vedict.

    Umer Akmal, Ahmed Shezad and Umer Amin should be given leeway and chance to play and perform. There should not be democale's sword hanging over them.

  • Ali on July 8, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    India have won the champion trophy because of their 100+ opening stand. Nasir Jamshad is good player but he need to be groomed and should be technical sound. I still thing we have weak batting line up as only misbah averages above 40. Pakistan need to be aggressive against wind indies as they always within their strengths.West Indies has more experienced battling but they crumbled under pressure and pakistan should be aggressive. Aggression is the key