LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) came down hard on Umar Akmal on Friday for his latest outburst against head coach Mickey Arthur, going as far to name his actions as a ‘bogus attempt to deviate attention from his own failures.
The statement also made a startling revelation that Umar was handed seven attempts to improve his fitness and raise his standards up to the expected levels but he failed. The board has already served a show-cause notice to the batsman and expects a response within seven days.
“While making frivolous allegations against the national team management, Umar Akmal has made a bogus attempt to deviate attention from his own failures. He was given as many as seven chances to improve his fitness and match the standards of his teammates, laid out by the team management,” the PCB statement read.
In a press conference earlier on Wednesday, Umar made bold claims against coach Mickey Arthur, stating that the latter was abusive towards him and denied him entry into the National Cricket Academy (NCA). “I had gone to England for rehabilitation of my knee injury. 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.”
Umar went on to claim that he escalated the matter to chief selector Inzamam Ul Haq, but to no avail. “Arthur shouldn’t be swearing at me like that, it is like he’s abusing all of Pakistan,” Umar said. “You look at any cricket match, and you’ll see he’s swearing at one player or the other. I want to reveal this to the public and to all my fans. I request PCB chairman Najam Sethi to take this issue very seriously. When the head coach is allowed to swear at someone whenever they wish, that is unacceptable. As a Pakistani, I could not stomach it.” PCB, however, continued to berate at Umar’s repeated failure to pass fitness tests along the way. “Umar was given a program to improve his fitness like other players before the West Indies tour (held between March 26 and May 10) and after he failed the tests in Lahore, he was left out of the team,” the statement added.
Intriguingly, Umar had passed a fitness test before Pakistan departed for England for the Champions Trophy earlier this year, but had to be replaced – with Haris Sohail – in the 15-man squad, as he failed one in England. “After clearing another test before the squad selection on eve of the ICC Champions Trophy in England, Umar was included in the eventual 15 member squad.
The PCB wants to stress that the team trainer conducts fitness tests of squad members before each international assignment and the tests before the Champions Trophy were conducted as a continuation of the policy. Once again Umar failed to attain the desired level of fitness and the team management was left with no option but to drop him from the squad,” the statement claimed.
The PCB also said that Arthur had considered Umar in his white-ball format plans but the latter couldn’t quite nail down his place, primarily because of his dwindling fitness issues.
“Head coach Mickey Arthur had placed Umar in his white ball format plans and gave him repeated chances for redemption, unfortunately though the batsman remained incapable of reaching the requisite fitness level. The PCB awaits his response to the show cause issued to him yesterday and hopes that in the meantime, the batsman will refrain from making baseless allegations,” said the statement.
SHOAIB AKHTAR WEIGHS IN ON AKMAL-ARTHUR SPAT
Former speedster Shoaib Akhtar has thrown in his own two cents on the war of words between Umar Akmal and head coach Mickey Arthur. Taking to Twitter on Friday, the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ urged the middle-order batsman to respond to his critics through his performance on the field.
He also suggested to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) that a “friendly dialogue” would have been better than a show-cause notice. “I hope cooler heads prevail in #UmarAkmal #MickyArthur & #PCB saga. We are one team people. Let’s stand united!” he tweeted. “@Umar96Akmal best response to critics is on the filed @TheRealPCB a friendly dialogue is always better than a show cause notice,” the former fast bowler added.