If his own batting performances hadn’t done it already, Wednesday’s ridiculous press conference has surely put Umar Akmal in a point of no return. Whatever little that might’ve remained would’ve been done following his tweets late night on Thursday that claimed that his presence “put the places of Azhar Ali and Mohammed Hafeez under threat”.
Let’s all try to trace the chain of thought. Here’s a discarded batsman, who has rarely managed to impress consistently with the bat, who had been left out of the squad for the Champions Trophy that Pakistan eventually won – against all odds – getting involved in a mudslinging contest with the man that coached that triumph, and is now involving players that won that cup?
It would take a prolonged loss in form, coupled with an extraordinary player knocking at the door constantly, for anyone from the Champions Trophy final’s starting 11 – plus Faheem Ashraf and Rumman Raees – to be dropped.
This, of course, has put Umar Akmal – someone who was struggling to get into the squad that hadn’t won the Champions Trophy – in a tricky position, especially since he also happens to be the only player to be regularly penalised over fitness problems, not to mention the regular disciplinary breaches.
Now, what do you do if you’re in Umar Akmal’s shoes? You either accept your mediocrity and settle for a career playing T20 franchise and first-class cricket in Pakistan – the former alone can earn one quite a living – or you right all your wrongs, work on your fitness and batting and try to squeeze into the squad that still has the likes of Ahmed Shehzad, who will likely be placed.
But what do you do? You go to the National Cricket Academy, get told off by the aforementioned coach, who might have used the f-word, not targeting you, but rhetorically, and then try to make the most of it in the press.
The goal? To generate public sentiment since a ‘non-Muslim non-Pakistani’ had insulted you – hence, the press conference had repeated calls to action for ‘fellow Pakistanis’.
It was a masterplan, but what Umar Akmal failed to take into account is the fact that the masses, do not give a (insert harsh word) about him. In fact, being frustrated at Umar Akmal is perhaps the most Pakistani thing Mickey Arthur has done so far.
The PCB has issued Umar Akmal a show-cause notice and in all likelihood, his apology would follow suit. But is there really a way back for Umar Akmal now?
Would anyone in their right mind want to alienate Mickey Arthur, Azhar Ali and Mohammed Hafeez, just to accommodate Umar Akmal?
He’s no Shoaib Akhtar who would be a shoo-in despite breaking more rules than created and getting into a bust-up with everyone he spent more than three minutes with in the squad.
He is no Waqar or Wasim who could conspire and group players against one another, but their world beating skills meant that they could do pretty much anything they wanted – and more.
He is no Younis Khan either, who can throw tantrums at will, but would still have the highest people request him to come back and play for the side.
Umar Akmal is a perennial failure, who has let the success that he never even got close to attaining, get into his head.
That’s where his masterplan has backfired. There simply is no one that cares about Umar Akmal. No one would bat an eyelid if Umar Akmal never wore the Pakistani jersey again.
So Umar Akmal, please cut it out. The hole you’ve dug yourself has rarely seen anyone return to the surface. And it’s hard to see you doing something off-field which you’ve never done on the pitch: overcome the steepest odds.