LAHORE: Widely known for his flamboyant-and-capricious attitude, Umar Akmal has remained in the news, mostly for the wrong reasons.
And on Wednesday, the discarded 27-year-old batsman again hit the headlines, and this time the controversy involves none other than national team head coach: Mickey Arthur.
Umar, talking to media, levelled serious allegations — of harsh behaviour and verbal abuse — against Arthur.
Addressing a press conference here, Umar said he went to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) on Tuesday and met Arthur.
According to Umar, the head coach did not seem to be in a good mood and took him to chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq where NCA head coach Mushtaq Ahmed was also present.
“There he [Arthur] used abusive words for me in the presence of both Inzamam and Mushtaq which is really painful and highly embarrassing for me as a cricketer who has played for the national team,” Umar said at the presser.
Umar added, “Arthur also admonished me as to who allowed me to enter the NCA. He told me that it was better for me to play club cricket instead of doing practice at the NCA.
“As a national cricketer, it is my right to use the NCA to improve my form and fitness,” Umar, who has played 16 Tests, 116 ODIs and 82 T20 Internationals for Pakistan, emphasised.
Giving the background of his conversation with Arthur, Umar said, “First, I met the trainer and other members of the foreign staff of national team management, who refused to work with me, saying they will only work with [PCB’s] centrally-contracted players. After this, I went to the head coach.”
Umar — who on various occasions in the past made headlines for his off-the-field antics blurring his name besides bringing a bad name to Pakistan cricket — claimed that he was not penalised during his career even on a single occasion for any on-the-field breach of discipline, adding “I never misbehaved with any coach in the past.”
Umar maintained that he did not receive appropriate response from Arthur on the occasion of the ICC Champions Trophy, held in June this year, but the treatment meted out to him on Tuesday at the NCA was even more heart-breaking for him.
It may be mentioned that though Inzamam-led selection committee had picked Umar for the Champions Trophy, Arthur sent him back after the batsman failed a fitness Test in England. Earlier, Umar, according to the PCB, had passed the fitness test held at the NCA. However, Arthur sent him back and replaced him with Haris Sohail for the elite eight-nation event.
According to Umar, during the fitness test in England he fell at the ground but the trainer without conducting any test suggested an operation on his knee injury. “But I got my knee fixed when a football physio worked on it. I myself paid all the expenses of my medical treatment in England,” added the batsman.
Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2017