A tale of two cricketers


The ongoing Pakistan-Sri Lanka ODI series has witnessed several Pakistani cricketers and Shahid Afridi making their comebacks into the national team after a spell on the sidelines. Afridi has predictably hogged the limelight but it is the quiet and unassuming (mostly) Razzaq, who presents us with an interesting proposition. It would be fairly reasonable to divide Razzaq’s career into two distinct periods. While he has done well with both bat and ball, often at the same time, Razzaq was at his most effective with the ball between the years 1999-2002.
In the subsequent years, his bowling figures suffered but on the upside, Razzaq’s batting blossomed and he soon become one of the most feared strikers in the game. Whether this change was conscious and on his own or it was brought about by the management at the time is a mystery, but it was clear that Razzaq, with his nip gone, could not be relied upon with the ball, especially in adverse circumstances.
As a result, the last few years have seen Razzaq being employed only when the ball is new and/or seaming around which is why the recent ruling regarding two new balls from each end may provide a new lease of life to Razzaq the bowler.
With the ball now staying new for a longer period of time and the current bowling lineup dominated by spinners, Razzaq’s role as the third seamer gains significance. The pace may be gone but the guile is still there as Sangakarra found out in the first two ODIs. Razzaq has never been the most ambitious or flamboyant character in the Pakistani team and it may require some cajoling on the part of the team management to make him aware of his new responsibility in order to turn him into an asset with the bowl much like when he is finishing off the innings with the bat. Speaking of finishing, Umar Akmal could perhaps learn a thing or two from Razzaq. Akmal’s comeback knock on Tuesday night perfectly summed up his brief career: moments of sheer brilliance overshadowed by moments of immense buffoonery. With the finish in sight, Akmal went for glory and holed out at mid-on after smashing three consecutive boundaries of Fernando. He only needs to look across the border towards Virat Kohli, another talented player who at one point played against Akmal at the ICC U-19 World Cup. Kohli is now more or less an established international in the shorter format while Akmal is still being talked about as a prospect. He was recently dropped from the Test side on account of poor form and his inability to play longer innings. While the idea in principle is not bad one is not sure if playing on the domestic circuit will do him much good. A stint at the English county level, where the conditions are more demanding could however prove to be useful. But with his surname becoming somewhat of a slur owing to suspicions quite serious in nature on his elder sibling, whether such an offer materialises is a point of conjecture.
There is no denying the talent that Akmal possesses but talent alone gets you nowhere. Experts harp on about how he should not change his natural aggression and he does not have to. It is more a case of channelling that aggression and talent into something meaningful and substantial for him and for the team.
Akmal’s character came under scrutiny on the Australian tour when he brazenly feigned an injury so that his elder brother, Kamran, would not be axed from the playing eleven. Brotherly love is sweet but the junior Akmal should look to steer clear from such controversies and concentrate on his own performances rather than looking out for his brother, who at this point is under the spot fixing scanner. Pakistan has already lost one exceptionally talented youngster in Mohammad Amir to the spot fixing menace and it would be a real shame if we were to lose another.


  1. somebody should teach mr akmal that after having hit 3 fours, he could have taken a single on the last ball to face the next over. this is the difference between professionalism and talent. our cricketers are immensly talented but lack the mental application

  2. i would love to read an article on why pakistan cannot chase evern totals of around 200. it would be fun if you could dig up some statistical data. i do remember that pakistan were better chasers when miandad and salim malik were around

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