Pakistan lose patience on enfant terrible
Finally the patience is lost on Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shahzad.
Both talented yet wayward in discipline had their heads on the anvil since their infamous World Cup 2015 hoopla. The then head coach Waqar Younis had recommended in his report that they be kept away from the team for at least two years.
It stemmed from the fact that two nearly came to blows in the dressing room during a World Cup 2015 game in Australia as they cannot stand each other.
But Umar was temporarily dropped for the tour of Bangladesh post the World Cup but Shahzad was squeezed into the Twenty20 side on the behest of then captain Shahid Afridi. Since Afridi wanted a settled team before the World Twenty20 and his farewell, he also came to Umar’s rescue after the spoiled brat was caught misbehaving with women in a dance party in Hyderabad.
A top official involved with domestic teams rescued Umar in Hyderabad case, reportedly bribing the police to exclude his name from the FIR. Umar was drafted in the team for the England Twenty20 but he couldn’t rescued Pakistan from a 3-0 humiliation.
Waqar was critical of Umar in his report after the World Twenty20.
“Umar was asked by Haroon Rasheed (former chief selector) to come the next day for fitness test to join the team in Sri Lanka for ODIs (last year), instead he chose to catch a flight to Caribbean for a lucrative league without informing anyone.
“Few months later, when he was caught in the Hyderabad incident or misbehaving with his domestic team coach, all times he managed to retain his place back in team. Is this what criteria we are setting for selection of new players?”
The flash point in Waqar and Umar’s not-so-loving relationship came during the World Twenty20 in India. Incensed at the head coach not using him top of the order, Umar complained with Imran Khan during a team hotel meeting with the legendary captain turned politician.
It hurt Waqar and then captain Shahid Afridi no end.
The latest theater case in Faisalabad, although Pakistan cricket Board, swept the case under the carpet by saying there was no evidence against the batsman, put paid to his chances to retain his place in the only format he plays.
Richly talented Umar had not played a Test for five years, since he angered captain Misbah-ul-Haq for playing a rash shot in a Test in Zimbabwe.
He has not played a ODI since Pakistan’s loss in the quarter-final defeat against Australia, playing an irresponsible shot even after told by Misbah not to play in that direction.
Shehzad it seems is hard done this time. There were signs of improvement in his behaviour. He didn’t cause any problems after being recalled for the World Twenty20. Lucky he was in the sense that he was recalled only after a few days following his exclusion from the Asia Cup.
He did well in the World Twenty20, not withstanding his poor knock against New Zealand in the must-win game and was declared the best batsman in the Pakistan Cup.
But it seems breaking a glass window in the dressing room ended his chance.
The selection committee very wisely took feedback from PCB chairman on the decision to axe both Umar and Shahzad and that’s why the decision will be hailed.
One hopes Umar and Shahzad learn from their mistakes or else the two very talented players will be lost to discipline.