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Umar Akmal: A habitual offender

He has been the bad boy of Pakistan cricket in recent times but is not thinking about bringing any change within him

Umar Akmal: A habitual offender

Over the years, Pakistan has produced many talented cricketers who got fame in the international circuit with their performances. Young middle-order batsman Umar Akmal is one of them.

As far as his talent is concerned, there is no question, but his inconsistency and attitude affect his performance in international matches.

Umar started his career with flamboyance and some hard hitting but over the last year he’s changed his game to just plain hitting which is not really working for him.

In his debut Test against New Zealand at Dunedin in November 2009, when Pakistan were 85-5, Umar Akmal scored 129 runs in the first innings and 75 in the second. Pakistan lost the Test by 32 runs but a young talented middle-order batsman had been found.

Owing to some outstanding performances, people compared Umar Akmal with India’s Virak Kohli, but actually there is no comparison between the two.

Umar, now 25, has played only 16 Tests, scored 1003 runs at an average of 35.82, only one hundred and only six fifties.

Virat, 27, made his Test debut in 2011. He has played 41 Test matches in which he has scored 11 centuries and 12 fifties, 2994 runs, averaging over 44.

There is a vast difference in class. Kohli has a far better temperament; he is much more polished and has better sense of responsibility.

Umar remains in the headlines mostly for his antics away from the field: getting fined by traffic police for breaking laws; getting nabbed for attending a “dance party” and not following the management instructions when with the team.

In a recent incident, Umar received a ban for one match for violating the dress code in a match of Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. PCB match referee Anwar Khan warned Umar for wearing a promotional logo on his kit, but he did not remove the extra logo. The referee penalised him with a one-match ban. He had been warned in two earlier matches in the Trophy but had ignored the warnings.

As per the PCB rules the ban applies to the next first game, whether it’s a national level game or an international one.

Team Manager Intikhab Alam before departure for New Zealand confirmed that Akmal would not be available for the first of the three Twenty20 matches.

But perhaps for Pakistan cricket, the Board suspended the ban as it believed that Umar should not face this ban in international cricket as his offence was committed in a domestic match.

Nobody is above the law. In the last Indian Premier League (IPL), Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli was found chatting with his friend Anushka Sharma in the VIP box during a rain break in the team’s game against Delhi Daredevils at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. The Indian board reacted immediately and BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur said no player was above the game and that investigations would take place. Players are not allowed to interact with anyone other than the dug-out members during a match under the anti-corruption guidelines.

Last year, in November, Umar was dropped from the side for the Twenty20 series against England in the UAE for allegedly misbehaving with women at a dance party.

Umar and former Pakistan under-19 captain Azeem Ghuman found themselves in a police station in Hyderabad after being detained at the party. But he was later included in the squad after getting clearance from the police.

Umar was dropped from the one-day side after the 2015 World Cup on coach Waqar Younis’s report.

In July 2015, the national selection committee ignored Umar for the one-day series in Sri Lanka after he failed to report for the training camp at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.

Chief selector Haroon Rasheed said that he was very disappointed with the attitude and approach of Umar. “We had asked all those players, including Umar, who were in contention and consideration for the ODI series to report to the NCA for a series of fitness tests and trials but he (Umar) didn’t show up, Umar spoke to NCA head coach Muhammad Akram and told him he was coming the next morning but then he didn’t show up. If some players want to hurt their careers themselves what can we do?” he said.

According to reports, Umar was busy playing in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20.

Umar was fined 50 percent of his match fee for an “offensive” snub of the umpires’ authority during his team’s 16-run defeat to Sri Lanka in the World Twenty semi-final in October 2012.

The incident took place in the 17th over of Pakistan’s innings when Umar, who was the non-striker, ignored both on-field umpires’ request and went ahead to change his batting gloves.

The cricketer was involved in a controversy when he was apprehended on February 1, 2014, after police charged him for violating a traffic signal in Lahore.

He was detained and released a day later on a bail order issued by a local court against a surety bond of Rs100,000.

All the above incidents show what is wrong with Umar Akmal. He has been the bad boy of Pakistan cricket in recent times but is not thinking about bringing any change within him.

After all the happenings, Umar complains that media was against him and creating controversies. “I don’t think I have got the support from the media that I deserved. Every little issue I have been involved has been blown out of proportion and my statements have been misunderstood. In all this, I have been made out to be an indisciplined player and person,” Umar claims.

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