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38 years old, still highly relevant : The Kamran Akmal story

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15 years since his first-ever international game for Pakistan as a 23-year-old, its quite a story how a man who has constantly been amidst the controversies and subject to a lot of trolls still finds high relevance and fits ideally into the plans of Pakistan cricket. Social media is a beautiful platform and helps celebrities connect to their fans but just like every aspect of this world, it comes with its own bunch of cons. Trolls, memes, verbal abuse and personal insults, the harsh realities of social media don’t spare anyone, not even the best, but beyond all these controversies and moments of despair, there is a determined cricketer who chose to never back down. The ‘dropper’ Kamran Akmal.

International cricket is highly demanding and people tend to falter at the biggest of the stages, but in this day and age, people behind the keyboards or the mobile phones tend to have a larger say and demeaning ones at that through the comforts of social media. The perception of Kamran Akmal as a mere dropper has arisen due to the large reach that powers social media and it’s very harsh to have that opinion about this highly skilled cricketer. Through all this Kamran has had only one goal that kept him going and helped him find a meaning to his efforts – that of playing cricket for his beloved Pakistan and at 38 years old he still has numbers that back his claim.

It’s been more three years now since Kamran played his last game for Pakistan but he has been piling on the runs heavily and consistently and at a pace that makes you take notice of. Pakistan has persisted with Sarfaraz Ahmed till very recently in the T20I set up. They started to look out for other wicket-keepers in the shortest format of the game after Babar Azam came to the helm. Mohammad Rizwan has been the other contender who has emerged recently. This is how the three compare in all T20s and T20Is since Kamran’s axe.

There are some significant numbers that stack up in favour of Kamran Akmal’s claim of getting a spot back in the T20 setup. There is a difference in strike rate of close to 40 with Rizwan and close to 20 with that of Sarfaraz’s but above all, it must feel extremely hard when you lose your spot to a guy who has a career T20 strike rate of less than 100.  His numbers in the PSL over the course of the last few years have been very significant.  

The notable aspect of his rise has been the fact that he has kept improving on his scoring rate every single season making him more relevant considering the strike rates of some of Pakistan’s selections in this format. He has 350-plus runs in three of the last four seasons of the PSL. His strike rate, which was only 129.30 in the 2017 season where he bagged the best batsman and the best keeper award, has shot up massively to 168.24 in the recent edition of the PSL which was temporarily postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you take a look at his numbers since 2016 he has averaged 36.00 in the shortest format and maintains an rate of 148 in this period which finds him in the top ten openers in the world in the format. His keen intent to play the long innings also stands out with him being able to score four centuries in this period. Since being dropped, he has 13 fifties to his name alongside three massive three-digit scores in this format and his conversion rate of close to 73 per cent is quite staggering considering the other options Pakistan have chosen to look into.

 

The hunger for runs has always been there with Kamran Akmal and after every time he has been dropped from the national side he has kept on grinding the runs in the domestic circuit which has often been overlooked as is the case right now. There has been a fair share of controversies that he has copped and he has been subject to a lot of internet abuse for failing at his craft as a wicket-keeper at times but he has been focused and determined to reach the only goal that matters and that is to keep scoring runs.

Pakistan has once again looked past Kamran in the squad for the tour of England and have gone back to their former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed. They have also backed Mohammad Rizwan as the second keeper in the 29-man squad. Despite the numbers that significantly put him ahead of the other counterparts, life has been quite hard on this consistent 38-year old who has never stopped trying. 

Whatever the future holds in store for Kamran Akmal there is a massive need to understand that he is more than just a mere dropper and at 38 years old he still is the country’s best option as a wicket-keeper in international cricket’s shortest format.



Freelance cricket writer. Taking small strides in this giant industry. Writes at Sportskeeda and CricTracker