Where does one begin with Umar Akmal? His career, so far has been a classic example of gifted but irresponsible. From a century on test debut, to being axed from the team due to disciplinary issues, he has gone from resounding highs to unbelievable lows. Fortunately, for Umar Akmal, despite all the problems he has faced, he has been given another chance by the selectors to make things right and finally prove his worth. Even though, Akmal is an extremely talented batsman, here are 5 reason why selecting him in ODI’s is a wrong decision.
- He hasn’t proven himself
Most commenters will be quick to point out that his performance in the national T20 cup has been phenomenal however, it is also important to note that his performance in the domestic ODI tournament Pakistan cup was at best average. In 4 matches, he could only manage to score 116 runs at an average of 29 with only one half century. If players are not made to re-earn their place in the side, then they take their position for granted and thus become complacent. In the case of Umar Akmal, he should have only been selected in ODI if he would have performed extraordinarily in the domestic ODI tournament or else it would further enhance his believe that he is superior in comparison to other players on the domestic circuit, something that will likely affect his performance adversely. As Waqar Younis pointed out in his report two months back, Akmal should be made to earn his place in the side by proving that he has improved himself.
- His Attitude
It is important to remember that Umar Akmal was initially dropped from the side due to his attitude towards the game rather than solely his performance. Whether, the selection committee feels that he has improved his attitude is mere speculation but the way he behaved and answered questions during the post-match presentation, after scoring a hundred against Rawalpindi in the domestic T20 cup, suggests that there are still some temperamental issues that he needs to address. It is important that PCB offers counseling to players like Umar Akmal in order to make sure they realize that representing Pakistan is an honor. It would have been better to select Akmal only in T20, so that the team management could have had the opportunity to analyze his behavior. In case, the team management felt that Akmal has improved himself he could have been given an opportunity in the series against Australia. The decision to select him so early, feels more like a decision taken out of panic rather than strategy.
- He doesn’t fit in the playing eleven
Throughout the series against England, the middle and lower order batsmen performed decently. Imad Wasim remained not out in the entire series and scored 153 runs whereas, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Babar Azam scored 300 and 122 runs respectively. In the final game, Mohammed Rizwan also chipped in and scored a handy 34. Moreover, Shoaib Malik has been one of the most consistent performers in the past year for the ODI squad and the fact that he can also bowl means; he provides the captain with more options. Considering all these stats, it is difficult to see Umar Akmal fit into the playing eleven. The only position that is vacant is the one down position which is the place where Asad Shafiq will likely be given an opportunity. Thus, considering the current squad, it is very unlikely that Umar Akmal will fit into the playing eleven.
- Chances for other players
In their quest to bring Umar Akmal back into the side, selectors have ignored a number of talented individuals who have been knocking on the door. Players like Fawad Alam, Khalid Lateef, Umar Amin and Saad Nasim have all performed decently in the past and should be given another opportunity to prove themselves. Fawad Alam, in particular, has been a player who has been ignored by the selection committee despite proving himself time and time again. While many fans might argue that Akmal is more talented than all the players mentioned above, the problem is that he hasn’t been able to convert his talent into performances in the past, which brings us to the next point.
- Past Record
At this point in his career, Akmal has already been given countless opportunities to prove himself. He was part of the squad during 2011 and 2015 ODI world cups but his performance in both mega-events was mediocre. Furthermore, there have been very few matches in which he has helped Pakistan to win. He hasn’t been able to live up to the impact player tag as suggested by some of the Ex- cricketers and cricket analyst. In contrast, his performance in the T20 has been significantly better where he deserves his place in the squad. Overall, Umar Akmal has only managed to score 2913 runs at an average of 34.67 in ODI cricket, a record that clearly doesn’t reflect his talent and potential.
Indeed, Umar Akmal is a great batting prospect for Pakistan but at this point in his career, with the amount of opportunities that he has been given he could have easily cemented his place in the side. Instead, he has disappointed the team and the fans on a number of occasions. Undoubtedly, he is still a great asset for Pakistan cricket and he still can fulfill his promise in the future but considering all the reasons mentioned above the selectors should have waited for a little more time before recalling him for the 50 over format.