Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad are two of the most talented batsmen Pakistan has produced in the last decade, yet they are also deemed as the problem children of Pakistan cricket after every tour. While they may not see eye to eye with the captains and the team management, it is pretty clear that they share a special affection with the media. Even though, they have been given countless opportunities and the coaches have recommended that they should not be selected in the team until they perform in the domestic circuit, for some reason the media always feels that without the two players it is impossible for the team to function. So let’s break the popular belief within media and take a look at some of the reasons why both of them should not be selected in the team.
- They have already been given enough chances
Both Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad made their debuts in 2009 and since then have regularly represented the team in the limited overs format. Despite making their debuts 7 years ago and playing almost 175 ODI’s collectively, the two players are still considered youngsters. This fact alone shows how many chances they have received. On a number of occasions, when the team needed them the most they have thrown their wickets away. This was clearly evident in the match against New Zealand and Australia in the world T20 where Pakistan was placed in a good position to chase down the target, however, Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad played a lot of dot balls and then gave their wickets away putting the team in a position from which, winning was nearly impossible. The funniest thing about the entire situation was that Shehzad was brought back in the squad due to pressure from the media after he was dropped in the Asia cup.
- Their Approach
In the past players like Shoaib Akhtar and Sarfaraz Nawaz also had discipline problems but when it came to their approach towards the game, they always took pride in performing for their country. On the other hand, Umar Akmal is still stuck with the fact that he needs to bat in a higher position. Instead of getting ex-cricketers to advocate for him, Umar Akmal should now start to focus on improving his batting. If he does that the team management will automatically promote him up the batting order. In their minds Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal have become untouchables. They feel that they are superior in comparison to the talent pool available thus; the only way to break this mentality is to keep them out of the team. Only then they will realize the true importance of representing Pakistan.
- Chances for other players
There are a lot of talented players in the domestic circuit that have been performing consistently. Players like Fawad Alam, Shan Masood, and Baber Azam should now be given priority over Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad as all of them have proved their fitness and have performed whenever they have been given the opportunity. Fawad Alam, in particular, is a player that has been ignored by the board despite proving his fitness and performance, whenever he is given a chance. While many fans will argue that Shehzad and Akmal are more talented, the fact is that both players haven’t been able to convert their talent into performances. Thus, the PCB and the selection committee should now focus on other players who can be successful at the international stage.
- Their reluctance to take responsibility
On a number of occasions the two batsmen have failed to deliver the performance the fans and the team expected of them, however, not once have they ever accepted their mistakes. When Australia was knocked out of the world T20, David Warner accepted the responsibility of the team’s defeat, on the other hand it is very rare to see any of the young Pakistani cricketer stepping up to accept that their performance wasn’t up to the mark. Instead, it is very common for Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad to make excuses. Until and unless the two cricketers don’t realize their mistakes and take responsibility for their failures instead of blaming the position they bat on or blaming the team management for not selecting them regularly, they will not improve as cricketers and will make the same mistakes when they make their return to the team. It is important for all young Pakistani cricketers to take responsibility of the team and steer the ship in order to make sure that Pakistan cricket progresses. Despite, what the media would lead you to believe Shehzad and Akmal are veterans now and have enough experience to not make the same mistakes in every game.
- Of field Attitude
If rumors are to be believed then both Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal were involved in dressing room politics during the world T20. Furthermore, it has also been rumored that it was Misbah Ul Haq and Azhar Ali who asked the chief selectors to keep both batsmen out of the team. If the captains don’t want the two batsmen in the team then there is no reason to select the two players as it might lead to conflict within the dressing room. Even if one is not willing to believe the rumors it is well documented how Akmal brothers have been involved in dressing room politics. One such incident occurred during the 2009 tour of Australia when Umar Akmal refused to play if his brother Kamran was dropped. Such attitude of the field should never be tolerated. Similarly, cricket fans have resorted to calling Shehzad “selfie” because of his antics off the field. It was also rumored that during the recent edition of Pakistan cup, when Shehzad was unable to make a century he broke a window in the dressing room. It is understandable that he was frustrated, however; Shehzad and Akmal have had their fair share of incidents off the field whether it fighting traffic police officials or running out of cash at a restaurant in New Zealand.
Indeed, Shehzad and Akmal are very talented and capable; however, they should now prove themselves in the domestic season by performing consistently and making a big splash. If they are able to do that only then they should be brought back into the team. Do you think Shehzad and Akmal should return to the team? Leave your opinion in the comments below and follow GenY on Facebook and Twitter to read about everything Pakistan cricket.