||13 January 1982
Kamran Akmal may well be the most emphatic proof of cricket's changed priorities post Adam Gilchrist. Sides now search for an explosive batsman who can change a day, an innings, a phase with the bat and so long as you can identify right wicketkeeping glove from left, the place is yours. There has been little doubt about Akmal's batting. The purity of his drives and the strength of his cutting and pulling, particularly on slower subcontinent surfaces, has always held a strong allure. And when it comes together as it did one January morning in Karachi against India - one of the Test innings of that decade - he makes it in the side as a batsman alone. But his glovework, which began so promisingly when he effectively ended the dogfight between Rashid Latif and Moin Khan in late 2004, has deteriorated alarmingly and few Pakistan matches are complete without a clumsy Akmal error. It wasn't always thus, for he was good when he began, good enough to impress Ian Healy. But non-stop cricket in all three formats have let technical errors creep in and critics and experts have long pushed for the need for him to take a break. To quality spin, he is often as lost as the batsmen and Danish Kaneria, over the years, has suffered in particular. In a string of error-ridden performances, the one nobody will forget will be the four dropped catches (and a missed run-out) in the Sydney Test of 2009-10, which allowed Australia to escape with a remarkable, traumatic win. Against this the memory of his Karachi hundred will always battle, with no clear winner ever likely to emerge. The tryst with controversy does his cause no good, with his refusal to accept his demotion from the side in the aftermath of a disastrous Sydney Test in 2009, eliciting a harsh fine and a disciplinary probation from the PCB.