Umar Akmal is likely to find himself in hot water with the PCB once more after he is said to have misbehaved with staff during a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy (NCA). The junior Akmal is believed to have exposed himself in frustration during one test, and now finds himself facing the prospect of being kicked out of the next domestic tournament.
Akmal’s elder brother Kamran is also expected to land in trouble after both brothers failed their fitness tests by significant margins. Salman Butt, too, could be in trouble with the authorities, after he stormed out of a fitness test when his request to have it rescheduled was denied.
The shortcomings of the Akmal brothers around their fitness regimes has been a talking point for several years now, with Umar last falling foul of the PCB management on this count under former head coach Mickey Arthur; he was sent home on the eve of the Champions Trophy in 2017 after a failed fitness test. Kamran, meanwhile, has not played for Pakistan since 2017, with his lack of athleticism in the outfield a major reason for his prolonged exclusion.
The perception that the Akmal brothers have never quite bought into the importance of maintaining rigorous fitness standards hasn’t helped their chances, and for all the changes that Misbah-ul-Haq has sought to bring since taking over from Arthur, the management’s commitment to high fitness standards remains undiluted. Misbah has sought to impose the same high standards in domestic cricket, with each provincial side required to regulate fitness tests on a quarterly basis.
ESPNcricinfo understands Umar’s behavior fell short of the mark during the skin-fold test, when he exposed himself completely in front of the trainer and is said to have asked him “Where is the fat?” According to Kamran, Umar did it in mischief and said it was simply a “misunderstanding”. The PCB confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that they were fully aware of the matter, and looking at potential punishments in the context of bringing the game into disrepute. Umar could potentially be axed from the upcoming domestic one-day cup.
Kamran, meanwhile, skipped two fitness tests, before ending up failing in nearly all departments when he finally did take one. Central Punjab’s squad was called up at the NCA in batches, with Kamran scheduled to appear for his test on January 11. He skipped that test, purportedly because he had a photoshoot with Peshawar Zalmi. His test was then pushed back to January 20, only for him to opt out, informing the management he was suffering from a bout of fever. He would undertake his test on January 28, alongside his brother, with both falling well short of the required benchmarks.
“I had informed the management each time I didn’t come,” Kamran told ESPNcricinfo. “I had reasons and I came on January 28 for the test. As far result is concerned, you will see an improvement in the next test after the PSL.”
Misbah has been repeatedly asked about Kamran’s absence from the national side, most recently for the Test squad to face Bangladesh in the first Test at Rawalpindi Stadium on Saturday. “Both of our openers have scored runs, and obviously you only recall a player when there is a place for him,” Misbah had responded. “Certain players are performing so you have to wait.”
Both Akmal brothers and Butt have not signed any contracts with their provincial teams, nor with the PCB, and were playing domestic cricket without any contractual obligation.