Kamran Akmal, Pakistan's embattled wicketkeeper, has ruled out the possibility of playing in the Hobart Test as a batsman alone, and has insisted again that he is confident he will play. Akmal's position in the side has come under intense scrutiny after a dismal second Test in Sydney in which he dropped four catches and failed with the bat as Pakistan handed Australia a remarkable win that sealed the series.
The PCB immediately decided to fly out Sarfraz Ahmed as a replacement wicketkeeper and said that he will "participate" in the third Test beginning Thursday. The statement left scope for Akmal to come in as a specialist batsman in a faltering middle-order, but for the second day running, the Pakistan vice-captain has defied board directives, maintaining that he will play at Hobart, and do so as a wicketkeeper-batsman.
"I am very happy with being wicketkeeper-batsman, not only batsman," he said. "I have played for Pakistan as a wicketkeeper-batsman with pride, so hopefully I am playing a similar role."
However, Akmal said a final decision would be made by the tour selection committee. A routine meeting is due to be held the day before the Test to finalise the playing XI, but the debate within indicates the discord between the on-tour management and the board.
The matter is further complicated by the composition of the touring selection committee. As vice-captain, however, Akmal has a vote on the playing XI, alongside captain Mohammad Yousuf, coach Intikhab Alam and manager Abdur Raquib. Within that group it is believed that the decision on playing Akmal may reach a stalemate, in which case the captain is likely to prevail with a deciding vote. Given the backing that he has given Akmal all along, it means Yousuf could conceivably choose to continue with the wicketkeeper, and thus clash openly with the board.
"Definitely, I'm very keen I am playing in this Test match but it depends on the captain and coach and management," Akmal said. "I've worked very hard in the nets. I'm still positive and hopefully I will play well here. They will tell me or not in the next few days if I am playing.
"Nothing is on my mind as a batsman. I am playing as a wicketkeeper-batsman. Before the match there is a selection meeting and I will decide with the coach and captain if I'm playing or not."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo