Umar Akmal might have been out of the national side for a while, but he stormed back into the headlines on Wednesday with an explosive press conference in Lahore, with the target of his ire no less than head coach Mickey Arthur. Akmal alleged that Arthur used abusive language against him and barred him from using the National Cricket Academy, saying he had to ‘earn that right’.
Akmal told reporters that he was ‘insulted’ by the head coach and deprived of the opportunity to “improve myself”. The PCB instantly took note of his outburst, issuing a show-cause notice demanding he respond within a fortnight.
Akmal was originally named in the national high performance camp organised by the NCA, but pulled out citing a knee injury. According to him, he had informed the relevant officials – including head coach Mushtaq Ahmed – and excused himself for five weeks, during which he intended to undergo rehabilitation with his private trainer in England. Despite returning earlier than expected, the camp had already concluded.
While Akmal wished to rejoin the daily training sessions at the NCA with the national coaches, the staff said they were presently working with contracted players to prepare them ahead of their domestic and international assignments.
“I had gone to England for rehabilitation of my knee injury,” Akmal said. “After I recovered, I went to the NCA to start working on my fitness and training. But the coaching staff doesn’t want to work with me at all. When I asked why all those international coaches didn’t want to work with me, they responded that they wanted to prioritise working with players who had central contracts. I said that I too am an international Pakistan cricketer, and if my fitness is lacking – and I admit that along the way my fitness has been found wanting – they should help me.
“I then went to talk to the chief selector (Inzamam), but he referred me to Mickey Arthur. Arthur took me back to Inzi bhai’s room and started scolding me and using bad language in front of Inzi bhai, which I found demeaning and insulting.
“It’s not even my fault, and I find it painful that anyone should be allowed to swear at me. I accept my fitness isn’t up to the mark, and I am trying to work on it, and I asked to be allowed a trainer to help me. But Mickey said I shouldn’t even have come to the NCA, and should be playing club cricket instead.”