Pakistan surprised by ordinary show of Kamran Akmal
August 2, 2006 | General
Wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal’s unconvincing showing in the opening two Tests against England has put the Pakistan team management under extra pressure.
Kamran, tested as an opener at Old Trafford last week, flopped miserably in that role and could just get eight runs from his two outings in the second Test. But more than his batting woes, it is his performance behind the stumps that has put a question mark on the player’s form and has bewildered the team officials.
Pakistan have come to England on this marathon tour with just one specialist gloveman as the team officials ignored the national selection committee’s advice to take along a substitute wicket-keeper on the trip that include four Tests, five One-day Internationals (ODIs) and several side games. Zulqarnain Haider was singled out as the reserve wicket-keeper and there was this option for the team management to take him to England as an understudy of Kamran.
But the team management decided to keep faith in just Kamran who was in superb form at home and abroad during the last few seasons — both with the bat and behind the stumps. The idea was to shield Kamran from any extra pressure which the team management thought could be posed by having an extra wicket-keeper in the touring party.
But the management may now be regretting that decision. Kamran did well with the bat in the drawn Test at Lord’s but was very unconvincing behind the stumps. His performance dipped further at Old Trafford where he had outings of 4 and 4 as an opener and was unable to collect the ball behind the stumps on several occasions. Kamran’s lack of form has been a huge setback for Pakistan who are currently without several of their strike bowlers here because each time he drops a catch or allows unnecessary byes off the bowling of pacers like Mohammad Sami or Umar Gul who are already running low on confidence, it further dents their morale.
“Kamran’s less than satisfactory form has really taken us by surprise,” admitted Pakistan manager Zaheer Abbas while talking to ‘The News’. “He is such a good wicket-keeper and a prolific batsman but so far he has been far from his best here in England,” added the former Test batsman.
According to Zaheer Kamran himself is unable to tell what has gone wrong with his form. “The boy is clueless. He has been unable to give a neat showing behind the stumps so far and that is really hurting him,” said Zaheer.
The manager said the only clear reason behind Kamran’s erratic showing is that he is yet to come to terms with the movement of the ball in England, saying, “Sometimes the ball nips in sharply after crossing the batsman and Kamran is finding it difficult to cope with the movement.”
The team officials have asked Kamran to make an extra effort to train ahead of the Leeds Test starting from August 4. He was also seen training for long durations ahead of the second Test at Old Trafford but failed to show any improvement.
Kamran’s butter fingers could get worse once the world’s fastest bowler joins the Pakistan line-up sometimes later this month. Shoaib Akhtar is expected to make his Pakistan comeback in the fourth Test against England at The Oval from August 17 and there are fears that if Kamran cannot keep wickets properly with Sami, Umar or Abdul Razzaq bowling, then he could be in more trouble when Shoaib returns to hurl his 100-mph missiles.
However, Zaheer allayed such fears saying that Kamran would surely do better at Leeds and Lord’s. “He (Kamran) is too good a player to play like this for too long. He is bound to improve in the coming matches,” he said.