NCA’s fitness methods, Umar Akmal dropped failing fitness tests

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NCA’s fitness methods,  Umar Akmal dropped failing fitness tests

LAHORE: Doubts are being raised over the standard of fitness tests conducted at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in the wake of the abrupt return of temperamental batsman Umar Akmal who has been sent back from England after failing the fitness requirements.

The controversial decision by the team management in England has created differences between the national selection committee headed by Inzamam-ul-Haq and Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur as the team management has requested for replacement before the start of the ICC Champions Trophy.

Umar had been picked in the 15-man squad for the 50-over competition which begins at three venues in England from June 1. But having failed the test carried out during Pakistan’s training session in Birmingham, the selectors have asked ever reliable Haris Sohail, young Umar Amin and Asif Zakir to report at the NCA to prove their fitness.

Umar had initially failed the fitness during the short conditioning camp in Lahore and was not considered for the West Indies tour which followed. However, the controversial player was declared fit by Dr Saboor at the NCA and the selectors promptly recalled him for the Champions Trophy.

But Dawn learnt that Arthur, who was in the Caribbean when the tests were conducted at the NCA, expressed his dissatisfaction when heard that Umar had cleared the tests and ordered Grant Luden, the Pakistan team trainer, to take a second fitness test after Umar arrived in England.

According to insiders, Dr Saboor conducted in presence of chief selector Inzamam, who was keen to pick Umar for the Champions Trophy regardless of his modest returns in the recent Pakistan Cup held at Rawalpindi during which Umar mustered 113 runs.

Moreover, Umar found embroiled in unnecessary controversy while leading Punjab when he told a TV anchor that he had no idea why fast bowler Junaid Khan was absent from a Pakistan Cup fixture. Hearing this Junaid, who revealed in a tweet that food poisoning confined him to the team’s hotel, expressed his displeasure over Umar’s remarks.

After an inquiry, both Umar and Junaid, who is also member of the Champions Trophy squad, were put on probation and warned to behave or face a month-long ban.

The latest Umar Akmal episode could lead to direct confrontation between Inzamam and Arthur.


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