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Skills more important than fitness: Akmal

The 29-year-old also lamented lack of enough chances to represent national side

PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan’s middle order batsman Umar Akmal has claimed that the skills of a player are more important as compared to fitness standards. 

While talking in an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, the 29-year-old stated that he had not received enough chances and hoped the new system would rectify the situation.

“I have not received enough chances. Now the new system is in place, my best wishes are with them [PCB]. I am hopeful they will now give me a chance. I will deliver my skill work for Pakistan,” Akmal said.

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Akmal stated that a lot of emphasis was being put on fitness rather than skills, which the middle order batsman claimed was the wrong strategy.

“Skills should be seen first. Fitness comes along with it. No one can say that I am unfit. I am playing a lot of cricket around the world. I am also playing a lot of first-class cricket and performing well. Skills therefore should be given priority,” he said.

Akmal revealed that he was a changed man and claimed that fans would see a new Umar Akmal when they witness him on and off the field in the future.

“I have changed myself a lot. My family has a big role to play in this. I have not appeared in headlines or social media for the past three to four years. I am trying to focus on my training and cricket now. That is why my focus has shifted from other irrelevant things,” he said. “You can say that you will see a new Umar Akaml the next time my fans see me. I am trying very hard to curtail my off field activities. I plan on giving more time to my cricket and training.”

The middle-order batsman believed that the appointment of Misbahul Haq as the new head coach of Pakistan would be beneficial for the players in the team.

“This would be very beneficial for the players. I have played a lot of departmental cricket with him [Misbah]. When I started department cricket my role models were Misbah and Hafeez. They were leading the side in that time,” he said. “They led very well and we won various trophies under them for SNGPL. My best wishes are with Misbah to become the new head coach. I am hopeful that he will play a good role in the Pakistan team.”

Akmal stated that he was available for Pakistan in all formats of the game and claimed that Pakistan was his first priority.

“I am available for all three formats of cricket. My first priority is Pakistan and then other leagues. If you are playing for Pakistan and performing well, then all the leagues come to you. Being part of the Pakistan team sends a good message for all the leagues that this is the player to look out for,” he said.

When asked about his career comparisons with Indian skipper Virat Kohli, the middle-order batsman claimed that the difference came down to the support provided by the two boards for their respective players.

“His [Kohli’s] cricket board gave him a lot of support. They guided him and continue to guide him even now. I am not saying that I was not given support. But you know very well who the cricket board backs and doesn’t back. I would request the cricket board to support its players. If you invest in a player, than don’t drop him before big tournaments,” he concluded.