FOR the umpteenth time, right-handed batsman Umar Akmal appears to have brought the gentleman’s game into disrepute, that too on the eve of the high-profile Pakistan Super League. He has been duly suspended by the PCB. The youngest of three brothers to have represented Pakistan in international cricket, Akmal since his debut in 2009, has gained a reputation for flouting the rules and arguing with team officials. And though he has been penalised, suspended and dropped from the team on countless occasions, he has blundered time and again. This time things are more serious. His swift suspension by the PCB under the anti-corruption code on Wednesday night could spell doom for his cricketing career.
According to reports, the player was approached by the bookies a day before the PSL V kick-off but failed to report the incident to the anti-corruption officials, as per the procedure laid down by the PCB and ICC. It is a case not too dissimilar to that of dashing opener Sharjeel Khan who was also abruptly withdrawn and suspended from the PSL 2017 and subsequently served a two-and-a-half-year ban. The world of cricket has been no stranger to ‘bad boys’, who may be good performers on the cricket field but end up being in the news for all the wrong reasons. Akmal, too, was hailed as one of the brightest stars on Pakistan cricket’s horizon after his dazzling entry into the game. But he has failed to find a permanent place in the team, mainly owing to his erratic behaviour. The complete relocation of the PSL to Pakistan this year is touted as the best thing to have happened to national cricket in nearly a decade. But with as many as 34 matches to be held in four cities, the logistic and other challenges can be daunting. Having said that, the authorities certainly seem well prepared to counter the challenges and hopefully the PSL extravaganza will prove to be a morale booster for the nation and not face any further hiccups after the unfortunate Akmal saga.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020