Biased treatment and lack of support in the domestic circles on his return from a year-long ban from cricket has forced Pakistan's Umar Akmal to leave the country and look for opportunities in the USA, ESPNCricinfo reported on Monday. Akmal, 31, was banned for three years from all forms of cricket by the PCB after failing to report spot-fixing approaches before 2020 Pakistan Super League.
The ban was slashed to 18-months after he admitted part of the charges and then got it shortened to a year by the Court of Arbitration for Sports. Following his return, the keeper-batter hasn't found takers in Pakistan's domestic circuit and has been playing for Central Punjab's second XI in the ongoing PCB Cricket Associations T20 tournament instead of the top-tier National T20 Cup.
A family member of Akmal confirmed that he had left for America to play for California Zalmi in the ongoing season of the Premier C league. He has signed a short-term contract with Northern California Cricket Association and is weighing his options to sever ties with Pakistan cricket. It is unclear whether Akmal will return to the country for the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy scheduled to begin later this month.
"There are a few others who were banned with bigger charges but given unprecedented support to make a comeback. The system was never fair to Umar. There were blatant compromises made to select a few players with poor fitness, but the benchmark was made tighter for him [Umar] to make sure keep him out," the family member told ESPNCricinfo.
In recent years, there has been an influx of sub-continent players to America for a revival of their cricketing career. Former India U-19 captain Unmukt Chand, Gujarat players Smit Patel and Siddharth Trivedi and former Pakistan opener Sami Aslam were among those who had cut ties with their national boards to move to USA.
Akmal, who made his international debut in 2009, played 16 Tests, 121 ODIs and 84 T20Is for Pakistan.