Comment: Pakistan cricket needs to move on from Shehzad, Akmal brothers

The trio released videos of their gym training on their social media pages after Pakistan's loss to India

Ebad Ahmed
The trio released videos of their gym training on their social media pages after Pakistan's loss to India. Photo: File 

KARACHI: Just when skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and team Pakistan is under fire from all quarters (and rightly so) for their mediocre play and lack of fitness in the ongoing World Cup tournament; opener Ahmed Shehzad, wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal, and Umar Akmal, have released videos of their gym training on their social media pages.

Clearly, the timing of the video shows that all the three out-of-favor players put the video in an attempt to woo the disgruntled fans and the cricket board, given a major shake-up is expected in the team after the tournament.

So here comes the million dollar question. Should the trio be given chances in the squad again by putting aside their ‘glorious’ past? As a journalist and a cricket fan allow me to write, No.

Starting with Kamran Akmal, the 37-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman last played for Pakistan in 2017 series against West Indies after making a comeback in ODI and T20I based on his blistering knocks in the Pakistan Super League.

Akmal was dropped again because of his sloppy fitness and below average batting performance (48, was his best score in four T20Is and three ODIs). If he is selected (the odds are low, though) the entire team combination would be changed to adjust him in the squad as an opener or in the lower middle order. His selection merely on the basis of seniority is faulty logic, to say the least.

If India can drop Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, and Yuvraj Singh on the basis of the fact that despite their marvelous records their utility was diminishing, it’s safe to say that the same principle should be applied on Akmal as well.

Meanwhile, the recent stats relatively appear to be in favor of Ahmad Shehzad compare to Akmal, as the opener scored 44, 74, 10, 56 in the Pakistan Cup held in this year’s April. Among the said three, Shehzad has left no stones unturned to make his case whenever he is on camera. There are pleas, requests from him to the fans and authorities who matter to let his past remain past.

Fakhar Zaman’s inconsistent batting performance can cost him his place in the ODIs. So if the performance in recent Pakistan Cup is taken by the selectors as the barometer for selection then going by the stats Khurram Manzoor with 300 runs in 4 matches on the average of 75 average must be preferred over Shehzad, or the technically-sound Abid Ali, who was also among the leading run scorers in the same tournament.

Shehzad, undoubtedly, has a good social media fan base and there is a significant number of people who wants to see him back. But I personally believe it will be a wrong decision for the board to prefer him over the better few. He has played 81 ODIs, of which he averages 25.25, 33.66, 34.85 and 38.66 against Australia, India, New Zealand, and South Africa respectively.

Until and unless he gives something special in the next domestic circuit, his selection doesn’t meet merit, in any case, no matter how fit he is.

Then comes our man of all talent – the ‘wonder boy’ Umar Akmal. For reasons only known to him the ‘superstar’ keep failing the fitness test ahead of any major tournament/series. So personally I fail to understand his point of making the video.

With 121 matches under his belt, the younger Akmal averaged 34.34 – sad stats – it gets more depressing if the stats are narrowed down to the matches he played against big 5 (Australia, England, New Zealand, India, and South Africa), the average plummets to a 24.55 in 64 matches.

With Babar Azam and Haris Sohail on board, Akmal’s place rests (if there is any) only in the lower middle order. He is expected to play the role of Hardik Pandya in the team – take the team to end. And Akmal without a shadow of doubt has often failed.

It’s not the case that there are no players available to join the team. Fawad Alam, Khushdil Shah, Saad Ali, Usman Salahuddin, Saad Naseem are the safest bet to invest if compared with Umar Akmal.

We have former coach Waqar Younis has reportedly stated that Shehzad and Umar Akmal lacked the passion when in the national side. 

 “The cricketing passion is missing from them. They need to realise that cricket isn’t just about making money, cricket is not a business and it’s about passion. Sometimes I got the impression that these youngsters don’t offer enough. They are thinking about too many other things and not about cricket. Look at the era when I played cricket, with the likes of Inzamam and Akram, these guys thought about nothing other than cricket.”

Has there been a massive turn around in their performances, the answer is No?

Obviously, a major overhaul is expected and needed after the World Cup. Axe will fall on a few. Few players will be relieved, a new selection committee is expected to take charge. My point here is that if there is a change – it should be for the better.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results – Einstein