“When teenaged Umar Akmal came into the Pakistan side, he had the cricketing skills of someone in their twenties. But mentally, he still was a teenager. Does the Pakistan Cricket Board employ individuals who can help such players develop? ”
In a recent talk show, former test cricket Rashid Latif made this astute point about young Pakistan cricketers’ lack of progression.
Days later, the PCB’s anti-corruption unit announced the suspension of Umar Akmal. The recent track record of PCB’s legal and anti-corruption team spells trouble for junior Akmal. A fitting but depressing end of a prodigiously talented boy.
Has this latest infraction come as a surprise to anyone? Well, anyone except Kamran Akmal. After dismantling defending champions Quetta Gladiators, he used the subsequent media interactions to plead innocence on behalf of his brother. Speaking to Waheed Khan he said
“I have belief in my brother and in Allah. I think it is may be a case of misunderstanding or something, I am not sure. But wait for the decision. I believe he is innocent. Hum bhai aisa soch b nahe saktay.”
A few weeks ago, he had issued another similar clarification. Umar was accused of exposing himself in front of a PCB trainer. Kamran said it was a misunderstanding. Go further back, and you will find other similar excuses, multiple times. At the start of his international career, there were ‘misunderstandings’ about younger Akmal threatening not to play if his elder brother was dropped. Go back further and you will see that NCA head Muddassir Nazar had sent Umar away for complete lack of discipline but he was reinstated on ‘request’. It’s been 11 years of ‘misunderstandings’. Yet Kamran Akmal is insistent that the world has an agenda against his brother. And perhaps that is where the problem lies.
A publically available record shows that Kamran Akmal is a Beaconhouse Alumni. That clearly shows that the Akmal family were not struggling financially. They had the resources to get the brothers basic training and education. By the time Akmal played for Pakistan, Umar Akmal was around 12 years old. From 2002 to 2009, Kamran Akmal regularly played for Pakistan. He knew the system, his brother, understood the demands of international cricket and that cricketers don’t get much support by the PCB.
Yet, he indulged the theatrics of his brother and demanded that the world should do the same. His role perhaps was to show the way to this young prodigy, rather than trying to dictate to the world, how they should react to junior’s Akmal’s antics. Kamran became a safety net for Umar. No matter what he did, big brother was always there to protect him.
Akmals are great for people like us who run social media. They are cannon fodder by informed choice. But somehow I feel a sense of sympathy toward Kamran Akmal. Clearly, he loves his younger brother. Perhaps cherishes his success more than his own.
Since the ban was announced there has been complete silence from the PCB and Umar Akmal. Possibly it’s to keep the focus on the Pakistan Super League. The media apart from the odd discussion have moved on. But it would have been devastating for the Akmal family. The Peshawar Zalmi keeper’s century somehow brought the spotlight back on the case.
When Kamran Akmal is going out to bat, what is he thinking? Knowing his beloved brother could be facing a long ban, it cannot be easy. The brother, he has defended for so very long, without much justification often, could be banished from the game for years. Is he thinking if I had just been a mentor rather than a brother, a facilitator rather than a defender, would things have been different? Has he backed himself into a corner, where he thinks that it is now his duty to just come up with an excuse every time Umar does something? Today after scoring a blistering hundred, the questions put to him were still about his brother. That was simply unfair to Kamran.
Overprotective parenting/guardianship can cause much harm, to the child and the parent/guardian. While I genuinely feel for Kamran Akmal, he has to take part of the blame.