Pakistan cricket was in the headlines for the all the wrong reasons this week when Umar Akmal accused head coach Mickey Arthur for insulting and abusing him in front of the national chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Akmal claimed that he was denied National Cricket Academy’s (NCA) facilities and no international coach was ready to work with him as they were only available to the centrally contracted players.
In the reply, the PCB issued the 27-year-old a show cause notice and when Akmal took to Twitter to tell his fans about Arthur’s ‘planned scheme to keep him out of the side’ the board issued a strongly-worded statement which unveiled that the head coach had made Akmal a part of his white ball plans and the batsman was given ‘repeated chances for redemption, unfortunately though the batsman remained incapable of reaching the requisite fitness level’.
As for the the national team’s support staff itself, they are awaiting the arrival of the national side at the NCA after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) called them back from the ongoing Caribbean Premier League and County season.
The cricket board had issued the No-objection Certificates to the 13 players participating in the aforementioned leagues subject to their recall if the World XI tour takes place in mid-September.
The Punjab government had suggested to the PCB to arrange the three-match series before a high-profile by-election in the city. Consequently, the World XI tour will take place from Sept 10 till Sept 16.
The verdict of the PSL spot-fixing case will be announced next week - AFP
The players were informed to report to Arthur on August 22 for a fitness test, their first since the Champions Trophy triumph in June. Their arrival is expected by August 20.
Given the impending return of the senior cricket team, the NCA then had to cut short a 10-week-long high performance camp, for 27 young cricketers under the guidance of Director Academies Mudassar Nazar and head coach Mickey Arthur.
Quite obviously, the changes have thrown the NCA into a flux. And on top of that you had Umar Akmal, who had his own grievances to air.
Pakistan’s former Test captain Salman Butt was also part of this camp as his struggle to complete his redemption continues. He ended the camp as the highest run-getter with 298 runs. The second best run-scorer, Sami Aslam, had piled up 228 runs.
Butt had supposedly been put on the verge of the national team since his reintegration in the domestic setup. Before Pakistan’s series against the West Indies in the UAE last year, he was told by the PCB to be ready for his Test return.
After a Butt-less squad was announced, he was informed that he would be boarding the plane headed Down Under in December. That also didn’t materialise.
After PSL spot-fixing controversy surfaced in February this year, plans to bring back the left-handed opener into the side were shelved altogether.
Speaking of spot-fixing, this week the PCB’s lawyer Taffazul Rizvi also told the media at the NCA that the verdict on the spot-fixing investigation will be announced by August 26th.
As for Butt, after leading Water and Power Development Authority to their maiden Quaid-e-Azam Trophy title in the last season, he will be leading Lahore Whites in the National T20 Cup which will be held after Eid-ul-Azha.
The tournament was originally scheduled to be held from the last week of August and stretch till the second week of September, and was one of the main reasons the players were recalled from their foreign duties. However, with the tournament now postponed, the players may be released by the NCA to join back their franchises and county teams.
And finally, on Monday the coaching staff celebrated Pakistan’s 70th independence day by being a part of the flag hoisting ceremony at the NCA and an iconic flag lowering ceremony at Wagha Border.
I leave you with a picture of a South African waving Pakistani flag.
Photo courtesy: PCB