Imran Khan may become the next PM, but Umar Akmal will never learn from his mistakes

Published: March 6, 2018
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Akmal’s contribution in both batting and bowling for the Qalandars thus far in 2018 comes down to an average of around 11 runs per game. PHOTO: PAKISTAN SUPER LEAGUE

Imran Khan could become the next prime minister of Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif could end corruption once and for all. Donald Trump could end up falling in love with Pakistan. I can expect any of these situations to become a possibility in this world, but if there is one thing that comes close to being impossible, it has to be Umar Akmal learning from his own mistakes.

The Lahore Qalandars are known for their bravery, amongst other things. Sometimes, however, they take a step too far as they try to be unique and courageous, and leaving their middle order in the hands of Akmal is a risk that even the biggest of daredevils would not take. Bravo to the Qalandars for trying their luck with Akmal against all odds, but in all honesty, spending that money on the lottery would still have been a smarter investment.

Akmal’s contribution in both his batting and bowling performances for the Qalandars thus far in 2018, comes down to 31, one, six, four and 15 for the past five matches – an abysmal score which gives him an average of around 11 runs per game. Before I elaborate, let’s not forget Akmal is Lahore’s platinum player, with a value of up to $200,000. If I were in Fawad Rana’s shoes, I’d take a shoe off and smack myself in the head to try and bring back my senses before picking players in the next draft. Each of those 11 runs is coming at an exponential cost to the Qalandars.

The third edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) proves that the Qalandars like setting up a trap for themselves. The moment they left their middle order at the helm of Akmal was the moment they stabbed themselves in the foot, for Akmal has mastered only one art in his entire career, and that is the art of being consistently inconsistent.

When Akmal first stepped onto the international stage of cricket, he stole the show with a blistering 100 against Sri Lanka. I also remember watching him play a T20 against Australia wearing a glowing green colour on his lips and smashing the ball in every side of the park. It was unusual to see a Pakistani batsman take on the Australian bowlers in such a daunting fashion. Given his performances, the entire nation thought success was waiting at Akmal’s doorsteps; however, success does not come to those who don’t learn to value it.

Slowly but surely, I watched an exceptionally talented young Akmal transform from a future star into a predictable failure. He had all the shots in the book, as if God had personally listened to all his requests, but one factor was missing. This factor may be the only barrier keeping him one step away from success in his entire career – the ability to understand the game and adapt his approach to it accordingly.

Playing according to the game situation is completely foreign to Akmal, as he likes to follow his own set of rules. If the team needs him at the crease, he will make sure to somehow slog his way out.

However, cricket is ultimately a mind game. Sure enough, you do need the skills to execute your plans, but then again, knowing how to approach the game is critical to getting the job done. Virat Kohli is a perfect example of a player who has mastered the ability to play according to the situation of the game. Akmal, on the other hand, is yet to learn what the game situation demands from him.

If throwing your wicket isn’t enough to hurt your team, then taking the team’s only Decision Review System (DRS) certainly is. Someone needs to tell Akmal that the review system is for the entire team, and not a personal decision. I do understand Akmal’s desperation to opt for the review each time he can get his hands on it though, since it does seem like he needs a second shot at everything in life.

Life has been gracious to Akmal, with plenty of opportunities presented to him over the years. However, time and again he has shown that not only does he refuse to learn from his mistakes, he also has an uncanny ability to make headlines for all the wrong reasons, even when he is off the field.

One can only hope that Akmal gets his head back in the game, and uses his cousin Babar Azam as a role model, because runs scored off the bat speak louder than any press conference a cricketer can hold. Akmal has been gifted with far too many shots; it’s about time he learns to value them. He needs to be playing big innings to get his team home and justify the talent he has been gifted with; for he is gifted with talent, he just has not figured out what to do with it.

I say this with pain, but until Akmal matures as a batsman, the Qalandars need to move forward by replacing him and bringing some stability to the middle order. Akmal is not the only factor holding the Qalandars back, but given their appalling performance this season, removing him will be the first step on the road to recovery.

Should Lahore Qalandars replace Umar Akmal?

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Hamza Junaid

Hamza Junaid

The author is an avid cricket follower and plays for a team called Gladiators based in New York. He tweets as @hamza_junaid1 (twitter.com/hamza_junaid1)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Imran Khan will not become the PM of this country through vote.

    And Umar will fix his mistakes.Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    Right Hamza :)
    Looks like u r a big fan of umar akmal and lahore qalanders! Hahahha tough luck, don’t waste time there are others in the side u should try to inspire like Fakhar Zaman should have played sensibly once McCullam was gone in last game …
    Umar Akmal’s problem is his attitude. He is a kid who thinks he is the best player and the people responsible for this attitude are Rameez Raja, Waqar Younis and many other commentators when they say things to praise him and he kinda takes them to his head …
    If i would ever talk to him my advise to him would be … he has all the shots in the book but kindly play one at a time, not even Viv Richards the top player played more than one Shot on 1 ball :)
    Great piece Hamza love it!Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    I guess time will tell. I would still put my bet on IK winning as compared to expecting Umar Akmal to learn.Recommend

  • Faisal

    Hundreds of such useless pieces have already been written. You do not understand the problems Qalandars are facing and have wrongly blamed Umar Akmal for it as you think no one will call you out for trashing Umar Akmal but you were wrong.Recommend

  • Sufiyan

    I may not always agree with Mickey Arthur as far as team selection goes but getting rid of Umar akmal was the best thing he did to Pakistan Cricket. This guy has played recklessly and cost Pakistan games time after time. I’m just glad he is not doing his shenanigans at the international level anymore. The little fame that he got upon his arrival at the big stage has gotten to his head and he still feels like he is a star waiting to be discovered. The country and fans have moved on. We have placed our faith in the reliable hands of Hasan Ali, shadab, Rumman Raees, Fakhar zaman to name a few.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Hahaha not a big fan but yeah disappointed to see him waste all the chances that he got. He has plenty of problems to be honest and a bad attitude is just one of them lol Your right someone has to tell him 1 shot on 1 ball please! I don’t think he has anyone to blame but himself for where he is today. Poor Rana Sahab.
    Thanks Israr! Appreciate the support and your comments.Recommend

  • Hussain Khalid Mirza

    Very Well execution of the article, may your article bring him some shame and may he come to know the value of that position, which he contains. Thumbs up for you Hamza again.Recommend

  • NKAli

    How can you expect an uncouth person to learn table manners? How can you teach a local hood not to talk boisterously? Recommend

  • Waqas

    Very well written Hamza. The main problem is he always blame others for his failure without realizing his own mistakes,The number of chances he and Ahmed Shahzad got they should be among the top batsman of the world.Recommend

  • ahmed

    Waiting for the hidden talent of UA from past 9 years Ramiz praise him but he never perform. If found there is something fishy between RR and UA, as everyone know that akmal bros are the bookies.Recommend

  • Manzoor Ahmed

    Nawaz Sharif could end corruption once and for all.Recommend

  • Sane sid

    request BCCI for some IPL contractsRecommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @Faisal Thanks for tuning in. If you have a chance please do read my other articles and you would realize I never follow the popular opinion but go with what I believe. The article against T10 is a prime example of going against the wave. I never blamed Akmal for all the problems Qalandars face but he definitely is one of the biggest ones in their lineup.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @disqus_D6nFI0h9tb:disqus Thanks for sharing your opinion. The fame definitely got to his head and its unfortunate he never got his way around it. Kept blaming others for not being able to demonstrate his talent. Btw I am not sure if I would call Fakhar Zaman reliable hands as of yet lol still pretty early but he looks good.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @hussainkhalidmirza:disqus Thanks a lot for your kind words! If this could change him for the better then that would certainly be a miracle.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    @NKALI well put.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Thanks Waqas! I am glad you enjoyed it. I agree with you and its hard to ignore the fact that they both arrived at the around the same time as Kohli. They both seemed equally talented but look where Kohli is today. Discipline and hard work got him to India’s captaincy while Umar Akmal can’t even make it to the squad.Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    Yeah and I can climb mount Everst bare foot. I like to believe in miracles too Manzoor!Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    I am not entirely sure how that would help…Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    No faisal the issue Hamza raised is massive with Pakistani cricket .. go back 2015 WC quarter final; we played well against Australia but misbah and akmal got out caught in deep in middle overs 24th and 27th off glen maxwells off spin. Now people will look at the score card and say well that is ok, but what u do not realize is when you have seen your captain try smashing maxwell and caught on the boundary line why would Umar Akmal try the same shot and get out like in action replay style… if he had got a good one I would have said fine … kindly watch the highlights yourself… Hamza has penned his concern about the club and the dude who is not really matured its been 9 years … his attitude and looking down upon other players is the problem he needs to learn to stay in himself and get a bit humbleRecommend

  • Parvez

    Umar Akmal may become the next PM…….because Imran Khan surely will never learn from his mistakes…. :-)Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    hahahahah good one Parvez!Recommend

  • Hamza Junaid

    “he will sit in Dharna himself against himself” hahahah thats possible too. However if Imran won’t be PM then how can it be a Corruption free PM? Is God going to send someone last minute? because I don’t see a corruption free candidate in Pakistan’s politics with the exception of Imran Khan.Recommend