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News

'Humiliated' Kamran Akmal refuses to play PSL 2022 for Peshawar Zalmi

The wicketkeeper-batter was brought down from Diamond to Gold, and finally picked in Silver, following a PCB rejig of the player categories

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
13-Dec-2021
Kamran Akmal has scored 1820 runs in the PSL, second only to Babar Azam's 2070 runs  •  Pakistan Super League

Kamran Akmal has scored 1820 runs in the PSL, second only to Babar Azam's 2070 runs  •  Pakistan Super League

Kamran Akmal, the most-capped player in the history of the PSL as well as the tournament's second-highest run-scorer, has refused to take part in the next edition of the league after being picked in the draft in the lowest category of players by his old team Peshawar Zalmi. Calling it a "humiliation", Akmal told ESPNcricinfo, "If it has to end like this, so be it, but I am not going to play".
The PCB had tweaked the player categories before the draft, and Akmal had been moved down from the Diamond category to the Gold category but was eventually picked up by Zalmi as their last pick, from the Silver category. Zalmi head coach Mohammad Akram is expected to meet Akmal today, but as far as the player is concerned, his decision won't change.
"If it has to end like this, so be it, but I am not going to play with such humiliation," he said. "This is an embarrassment. You don't treat a player like this. With all the runs I have scored in the league, I deserve better.
"I agree that rejigging the categories wasn't the franchises' prerogative, it was Ramiz Raja [PCB chairman] who reworked the categories. But being picked in Silver was a further demotion."
"We have also announced a benefit year for him and a certain amount from our earning will go back into that. With age [Akmal is 39], things change and we have to be realistic. But on paper, he is still with the team and that is why we picked him"
Mohammad Akram on Kamran Akmal
After the draft on Sunday evening, Akram told mediapersons that he had spoken to Akmal and offered him the same remuneration as a Gold-category player would expect to be paid. "Kamran has always been the closest to our heart. He has not only served Pakistan well, but has entertained PSL fans for last six years," Akram said. "I had spoken with him earlier, and informed him that if we pick him in the Silver category, we will still pay him same money as he would earn in the Gold category by making him the team's mentor.
"We have also announced a benefit year for him and a certain amount from our earning will go back into that. With age [Akmal is 39], things change and we have to be realistic. But on paper, he is still with the team and that is why we picked him.
"He has been our key player and I hope I will be able to persuade him to play the season. But, at the end of the day, it's their [the players'] choice, they are professionals and can play wherever they want."
The six franchises met in Lahore last evening to pick their squads for the seventh edition of the PSL, which will kick off on January 27 in Karachi. Each franchise had a chance to retain up to eight players, and Zalmi chose not to retain Akmal, the plan being to pick him from the draft instead. Wahab Riaz, the captain of the team, was retained, while Shoaib Malik was acquired from the Diamond category. The team has also brought in Mohammad Harris as an additional wicketkeeper.
Akmal's PSL record is impressive. He has 1820 runs from 69 games, the run tally second only to Babar Azam's 2070 from 58 games. Akmal has scored his runs at a strike rate of 136.84 and is the only one to have scored three hundreds; Sharjeel Khan has two. A Zalmi player from the start of the competition in 2016, Akmal is also the leading wicketkeeper in the PSL with 60 dismissals to his name.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent