Akmal promises to bounce back into the national side with good performances and maturity © Getty Images (file photo)
Akmal promises to bounce back into the national side with good performances and maturity © Getty Images (file photo)

Pakistan cricket team’s discarded player and wicket-keeper, Umar Akmal, has been left out of the 17-men squad announced for their hectic tour of England, starting this July. The team is slated to play 4 Tests, 5 One Day Internationals (ODIs) and a single T20. The new selection panel, headed by former skipper, Inzamam-ul-Haq, made changes in the team keeping in mind the performance of their current crop of players and discipline. Discipline has been an issue for Pakistan players and for this reason they dropped Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal. Akmal had a disastrous Asia Cup and ICC World T20, held in India and paid the price for his behavior on and off the field as well. Full Cricket Scorecard: England vs Pakistan, 1st Test match

After being dropped from the national team, Akmal is back for some County cricket with his team, Leicestershire. Speaking about his aims with the team, he stated, “A big thank you to Leicestershire for giving me the opportunity to return and play for them again. I had a great time last season playing for Leicestershire and my aims this season are to play well and score plenty of runs in each match for Leicestershire and to help them have a successful season in the Natwest T20 Blast tournament”, told the middle-order batsman in an exclusive interview with Pakpassion.net.

Famous for being indiscipline both on and off the field, a confident Akmal said, “I think I have improved a lot when it comes to maturity both on the cricket field and off it. I feel that in the coming months and years everyone will see a more mature Umar Akmal. I particularly need to bat according to the situation more than I have in the past and that is definitely something I am focusing on.”

Eager to prove his doubters wrong, Akmal replied,” My aim is to make lots of runs for Leicestershire, then in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and then back home in Pakistan I need to make sure I get off to a flying start in domestic cricket for Sui Gas. I am aware that I need a strong domestic season behind me to impress the selectors.”

Speaking about his fitness which has declined according to the tests held in National Cricket Academy (NCA), he said, “Unfortunately, some quarters have insinuated that I am extremely unfit and not ready to play. This is obviously untrue. However, as a professional athlete, I will continue to work hard on my fitness.

Starting off his career by a sparkling 129 on Test debut, his batting has not been consistent. He answered, on what has gone wrong for the right-hander, he told,” I was full of confidence back then and perhaps that is what has been lacking and why I have not been able to kick on as much as I would have liked regarding my performances for Pakistan. A lot of people had high hopes for me and I do not want to let those people down in the future.”

Pakistan cricket team recently appointed Mickey Arthur has their head coach ahead of a packed schedule in 2016. This gives a fresh opportunity for Akmal to impress the new coach and comeback into the team. On this, he stated, “I wish Mickey all the best in his new role and I hope his stint as head coach is a very successful one. Whoever the selectors and head coach pick to play for Pakistan, there will be no hard feelings from me and I wish all of them the very best.”

On his awaited comeback, he looked confident and hopeful that he will learn a lot now and feature in Pakistan colours soon. “I’d love to be in Pakistan’s whites and be playing Test cricket as that’s the format that I really want to play for Pakistan again. I’m desperate to play Test cricket again for Pakistan, but if I don’t get the opportunity to play Test cricket then limited overs cricket for my country would be fine. I just want another chance to perform and to show people that I am still capable of performing in international cricket, concluded the wicket-keeper.