Author : Faisal Caesar
Umar Akmal – A special cricketing talent from Pakistan
People are talking a lot about Fawad Alam these days. In Pakistan, Fawad Alam is regarded highly. When you hear about any cricketing talents coming up from Pakistan, you tend to get more interested to know what sort of a talent is he as Pakistan is well known for unearthing exceptionally talented cricketers.
And for which, Fawad Alam too had been one everyone’s centre of attraction. But when given a chance in the national team, his performances had been pretty dull. His talents continued to shine in the domestic arena but whenever given a chance in the national squad, temperamentally, he proved fragile.
He didn’t lose hope but continued to polish his talents in Pakistan’s domestic arena. Years of toil in the domestic arena have made Fawad Alam more mature and temperamentally strong and finally, luck has smiled upon this man – two back to back solid performances in the recently concluded Asia Cup indicates how hard he has worked and at present, he is becoming a big contestant to claim a permanent place in the Pakistani middle-order especially in the longer formats.
But, as a Pakistan cricket fan, do you enjoy watching his batting? Yes, he has that capability to stabilize an innings. Yes, he injects composure in the batting line-up, but he fails to impress a Pakistani cricket fan with his lack of genuine Pakistani dash which has attracted cricket fans all over the world – he lacks that ravishing Pakistani style of stroke-making.
The Pakistani soil is fertile to unearth exceptional cricket talents which have left the world amazed. Pakistan is famous for producing fast bowling talents – fast, furious, unconventional, ruthless and match winners. But, amid those fast bowling maestros, Pakistan have also produced some exceptionally gifted batsmen over the years.
Over the years, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam ul-Haq and co have offered the world enough of titillations alongside Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. The likes of Zaheer Abbas, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam and Javed Miandad were stroke-makers of high quality. Their batting reflected a spark and blitzkrieg which was not like Viv Richards, Mathew Hayden or Adam Gilchrist; but it was Pakistan’s own style of aggression – their batting was impulsive.
In Umar Akmal, we can witness that impulsive batting style.
Umar Akmal burst onto the scene with a dazzling hundred in his first international match against Sri Lanka in the second ODI at Dambulla in 2009. In the same year, he took the cricketing world upside down with an eye-catching hundred in his debut Test match. On a difficult Dunedin track, where his teammates struggled to bat against Shane Bond and Daniel Vettori, Umar Akmal, was fearless and exhibited high-profile strokeplay.
Like a Miandad his footwork is lightening and like a Zaheer Abbas he can murder an attack with pristine timing. His impulsive batting is like caffeine – no chance for you to fall asleep.
You could have been obsessed with Afridi’s superhero like batting against India and Bangladesh. You must have been impressed by Fawad Alam’s efforts in the Asia Cup, but, how could you have not noticed Umar Akmal’s crisp batting display?
No one bothered to say anything about his inside-out dabs through the extra-cover region and late-cuts against the spinners or plundering the pace bowlers for boundaries and sixes were eye-popping. The beauty of Umar Akmal’s timing makes his batting more pleasing to watch and his counter-attacking ability is an asset for any team.
Shouldn’t Umar Akmal be a regular batsman in the Test team? How effective Umar Akmal would have been in the Test side? Shouldn’t Umar Akmal bat higher up the order? Shouldn’t he be batting at number three or four? Shouldn’t his counter-attacking ability be utilized in the most appropriate manner?
In Pakistan; fresh cricketers, naive and unrefined, twinkles with a flashing regularity, sparkle across our field of vision, shine, for a period, then suddenly evaporate and leave us wondering if it had been an illusion. Amazing talents just meet a terrible end to their glittering career either due to poor management, lack of correct guidance or due to filthy politics.
In my opinion, over the years, Umar Akmal has not been managed properly. The appointment of Zaheer Abbas as the batting consultant should be very encouraging for Pakistan especially for Umar Akmal. As because, both of them are stroke-makers of the same class and both of them share the same instincts – aggression.
Zaheer should guide Umar Akmal about how to convert those fifties into hundreds and those hundreds into even bigger scores. Umar Akmal’s hunger for runs is well known, but over the years, he just failed to organize his innings properly. Zaheer’s main task should be to teach Umar Akmal on how to organize his innings. Zaheer’s presence is sure to help Umar Akmal a lot.
The emergence of Fawad Alam is pretty encouraging for Pakistan as its fragile middle-order needs some solidity, but it needs some adventurous stroke-makers who can counter-attack as well. Surely, you don’t wish to enjoy a boring Pakistani batting order. An organized Umar Akmal at the top can provide enough of majestic flavours. A special talent like Umar Akmal must not fade away.