Kamran Akmal: The man behind the gloves tries hard
In recent years, the role of a wicket-keeper has been completely revolutionised.
Not only are they expected to play every match of a tour but also have a batting average of over 45, be big hitters and faultless all day long behind the stumps. They’re also expected to be perfect in all formats where a few tend to open the batting after having been in the field for the whole innings.
A wicket-keeper will end up covering approximately 10 to 15 kilometres in the field during a Test and is the person who touches the ball the most during a game. That isn’t the case when Chris Gayle or Shahid Afridi are on song and then it is generally a spectator or the car park attendant who will touch the ball the most. During a Test this can be up to or over 550 touches for a keeper. They are also considered a leader in the field and are expected to keep the tempo of the team up.
Over the past week, there has been a lot of criticism aimed at Kamran Akmal for his performance against New Zealand. People will happily sit in judgment and argue that this isn’t the first time it has happened. But, as a coach or a trainer, you notice which players are the first to start and last to leave training. They leave no stone unturned while preparing for the matches, with the desire to achieve perfection every time. These guys also tend to be enormously critical of their own performances and analyse every aspect of their game. They tend to have a real team mentality and playing for their team and country is paramount to them.
Everything I have just mentioned describes Kami to the core.
A normal day for him involved coming to the NCA to train in the gym for an hour and then do a running session followed by some stretching and a pool session. He will then finish his recovery with a meal and head home to rest or get treatment on one of his niggles that all keepers carry. Following that, he’ll go to the analysts’ room for some DVDs of his recent games. The commitment to the game continues in the afternoon with some drills and net sessions. He does this six days a week, sometimes seven unless he has a club game which he will play rather than resting.
He is the first person to greet a colleague in the dressing room after a century, the first to yell out “well done” to someone who has played well and hates it if he feels he didn’t contribute enough during the game. A lot of people tend to remember just the bad points and not reward the good times. Kami has contributed to the cause more than the missed opportunities.
The fans need to know that this guy is doing the hours and doing the work to improve every day. He wants to represent and do his best for his people and for his country and he does not ever take it for granted. No one will get it right all the time but the effort is in the try and Kami is a match-winner.
Published in The Express Tribune.
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