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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Umar Akmal’s fall from promise to disgrace: A timeline of controversies

When Umar Akmal had burst into international cricket at the age of 19, it had seemed he was destined for great things. Now, at the age of 29, he stares at a three-year ban and a career that could have been so much more.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: April 30, 2020 8:12:47 am
Umar Akmal has been banned for three years. (File Photo/Reuters)

When Umar Akmal had burst into the Pakistan middle order at the age of 19, it had seemed he was destined for great things. Now, at the age of 29, he stands without a chance to return to cricket for the next three years and a career with much unfulfilled potential.

2009 – A golden debut

Akmal scored a century in his third ODI, one week after playing his first match for Pakistan.

In his debut Test against New Zealand, Akmal hit 129 runs from 160 balls, becoming only the second Pakistani to score a hundred on debut away from home. This was his second century in as many months.

“I am very impressed by this young man,” said Benaud. “He is a batsman, a lovely mix of Sachin Tendulkar and Javed Miandad,” said Michael Slater.

“He is a very hard working, dedicated young person and a very exciting cricketer. We are lucky to have him in the side and I think he’s got a great future for Pakistan,” Intikhab Alam said.

However, there would only be one more international century in his career – in an ODI vs Afghanistan.

2010 – ‘Going to go right to the top’

Still in his first year of international cricket, Umar Akmal showed promise of being the much-needed lynchpin of the Pakistan middle order.

When he inspired Pakistan to break a 12-match losing streak against in a T20I vs Australia in July 2010, Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis said, “He is probably the most talented cricketer I have seen in the past 15-20 years…He’s only young, he’s only 20. He’s got heaps of time and he’s a good learner, a good listener which is good. I have no doubt that he is going to go right to the top. He’s very talented.”

READ | Umar Akmal: Grenade without a pin

However, Akmal also had his first brush with trouble with authorities in his first year itself. He was fined Rs 2 million and was kept on probation for six months for feigning injury to not play on a tour of Australia in an apparent protest against his brother Kamran Akmal being dropped. He eventually played.

2011 – A stutter

In June 2011, PCB issued a show-cause notice to Akmal for allegedly flouting terms in his contract after he told a cricket website that he wanted to bat higher up in the order. The cricket board, saying that Pakistan players were denied any interaction with media without permission from the board, charged him with a notice as a part of disciplinary action.

In October, Akmal was dropped from the Test squad, never to play in whites for Pakistan again. He had averaged a modest 24.33 across 2010 despite the glorious debut.

2012 – T20 World Cup misdemeanour

In the 2012 T20 World Cup, Akmal was fined of his match fees from the semifinal after he ignored the umpires’ direction to wait for a change in his gloves. Match referee Jeff Crowe took a dim view of his conduct and slapped a Level 2 charge on the then 22-year old.

2014 – Arrested

In February 2014, Akmal was arrested for misbehaving with a traffic policeman after rash driving. He reportedly assaulted the police officer and tore his uniform. He was released on bail 12 hours later.

2015 – Dropped for partying

Akmal was dropped from the Pakistan team for “bringing the PCB and Pakistan Cricket into disrepute.” He had earned the PCB’s ire by attending a party in Hyderabad without permission during a domestic match.

2016 – Scuffle in theatre

In January, during a tour of New Zealand, Umar Akmal was served a one-match ban for not adhering to clothing guidelines during a domestic match. According to reports, Akmal was wearing a logo on his shirt which was not approved by the PCB and he refused to remove it despite the match referee’s warning.

In April, Akmal was involved in a scuffle in a theatre in Faisalabad, after he was reportedly irked the theatre’s refusal to repeat a repeat of a dance performance he had requested.

2017 – Outbursts, fitness troubles

In March 2017, Akmal got into trouble with teammate Junaid Khan for questioning his absence from the team at the toss before a Pakistan Cup match. Akmal said he had come to know Junaid would not be playing moments before he had come out to the toss. “I am saddened to hear the remarks Umar Akmal made on television, saying ‘I ran away from the team’. I have not run away,” Junaid said in a video rebuttal.

Akmal, who had initially been picked for the Champions Trophy in June, was dropped from the team after failing to pass two consecutive fitness tests. He was dropped from the central contracts list a little later.

Mickey Arthur abused me and used poor language, says Umar Akmal

Following the Champions Trophy axing, Akmal claimed in a press conference that head coach Mickey Arthur had abused him in front of chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and had not allowed him to use facilities at the NCA to improve his fitness.

In September, PCB reprimanded him for his media outburst, fining him Rs 1 million, serving him a three-match ban and revoking his permission to participate in overseas T20 leagues for two months.

2018 – Spot fixing investigation

In 2018, Umar Akmal got into trouble by saying in a TV interview that he had been offered money during the 2015 World Cup to “leave two balls alone”. “I had got an offer during the World Cup to leave two balls alone and they were willing to pay me $200,000 for that… in fact, every match I play against India, they offer me money to make some excuse and opt out of the game,” Akmal had said.

This was news to both PCB, who served him with a showcause notice for failing to inform them of this approach within hours of the interview, and ICC also said they were initiating an independent inquiry.

2019 – Breaking curfew

Akmal was recalled to the Pakistan team despite his public spat with coach Mickey Arthur, but the problems did not go away for Akmal. he was fined 20 percent of his match fees for breaking curfew during a series vs Australia in Dubai.

He had reportedly been out attending an Akon concert at night without permission from the team management, with his late return violating the rules set on when players needed to be back at their hotel while on tour.

2020 – Three-year ban

In February, with his troubles with fitness tests continuing to plague him, Umar Akmal reportedly exposed himself in front of a fitness trainer at the NCA, challenging him to show where the fat was. He escaped any sanction for this misbehaviour.

However, it was just before the PSL season a few days later that Akmal got into his biggest trouble – eventually leading to a three-year ban. The PCB suspended Akmal for failure to report approaches by match-fixers.

He was charged under the Anti-Corruption Code. Akmal did not request a hearing before the Anti-Corruption Tribunal and his case was referred to a disciplinary committee.

In April, he was banned for three years.

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