Regarded as a promising batting talent when he made his international debut in a One-day international against Sri Lanka in 2010, Umar Amin has so far struggled to find a regular place in the Pakistan side playing just 4 Tests, 16 ODIs and 14 T20Is. Whilst his performances last season at the domestic level may have been below par, he has scored 8462 runs at the First-class level at an average just under 40, since his debut in 2007.
In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Umar Amin spoke about his impressions of the changes made to the domestic system by the PCB, the disappointment of playing just one match in PSL 5, why he has not managed to establish himself at the international level and his hopes of making a comeback to the Pakistan side.
By Amir Husain (18th July, 2020)
PakPassion.net: Are you concerned by the fact that you struggled to perform in the 2019/20 domestic season?
Umar Amin: Yes, it is true that I did not perform according to my own expectations in the previous domestic season where I scored 612 runs. Whilst I would have loved to score more runs during this period, one cannot call this season a failure by any means. Of course, I do realize that to make a comeback to the Pakistan team, I would have had to have scored over 800 runs which I did not, but then again, it’s a little unfair to judge my ability based on just one season. In fact, if we consider the 2015-2019 period, I am amongst the top 5 batsmen in terms of runs scored in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, which does speak volumes about my capabilities.
PakPassion.net: What are the positives of the new 6-team domestic system introduced in the 2019/20 season?
Umar Amin: I feel that the reduction of the number of sides has resulted in a much more competitive brand of cricket and the PCB has preferred quality over quantity which will greatly benefit Pakistan cricket. The use of the Kookaburra ball for domestic games was needed to ensure that the gap between domestic and international cricket was reduced as much as possible and that is what’s happened during this season. Apart from that, a lot of emphasis has been put on improving the quality of pitches to bring them as close as possible to international standards. All of these measures have resulted in a much better quality of competition in domestic cricket.
PakPassion.net: Are you concerned about the number of domestic players who may have lost their jobs due to the abolition of departmental cricket?
Umar Amin: The simple answer is that like every change that is made in any sphere of life, we need to allow some time for this new system to settle down and for all pros and cons to be analysed, before being too critical. PCB to its immense credit has put in a lot of effort to accommodate some of the senior players who have served their departmental teams with distinction for many years and they have been given bowling and batting coach roles or appointed as mentors. Let’s give the new system some time to take shape before we make any judgements about its utility to Pakistan cricket.
PakPassion.net: Were you disappointed playing just one game in the 2020 edition of the PSL?
Umar Amin: It goes without saying that I was disappointed. I had done reasonably well in PSL 4 and was expecting to be given some more chances in front of home crowds, but that did not happen. It was possibly a case of the team management coming to the conclusion that I was unsuitable for the team combination. So, they had to juggle with the requirement of playing 4 overseas players, had to accommodate Shoaib Malik and they also could not ignore the talent of Haider Ali. All this meant that not only I but even Imam-ul-Haq did not get much game-time.
PakPassion.net: You looked very good on Test debut in 2010 but have only played 4 Tests so far. Why do you think you’ve not had more chances?
Umar Amin: This question really needs to be directed to people who are responsible for selection as this is something I cannot answer. All I can say is that I did what was in my hands which was to perform well in domestic cricket and on ‘A’ team tours but failed to get opportunities to play more than 4 Tests. There was a glimmer of hope in the series against South Africa in 2013 where it seemed I would get a chance for a comeback but that did not happen and I suppose that is part and parcel of cricket.
PakPassion.net: Do you feel that you have missed out on chances to represent Pakistan simply due to bad luck?
Umar Amin: I do feel that luck plays an important part in how one's career moves forward at the international level. Some cricketers have been lucky enough to have progressed in international cricket very quickly but others like me have had to wait. Misbah-ul-Haq is a good example of such a player who had to wait for a long time to establish himself in the national side. I feel that I still have time left in my career to make a comeback and am putting all my energies towards this goal.
PakPassion.net: It must have been demotivating that despite being classed as a future Test captain, you have not played many times in this format for Pakistan?
Umar Amin: There is always disappointment when you are unable to reach the goals and aims that you set for yourself at the start of your career. But this is where the people around you, such as friends and family, have a positive effect on you by supporting you and lifting you. I would like to thank my family who were there at difficult times and it's due to their efforts that I have been able to lift myself after a few disappointments in my career.
It's easy to say that one feels disappointed after being dropped from the Pakistan side after being labelled as a future captain for the national side, but the fact is that it is absolutely devastating for a player when he goes through this situation in his career. But it's also a fact that in order to become a great player, one has to go through such adversities and still keep a positive mindset, and this is also how I wish to conduct myself.
PakPassion.net: Do you accept that your batting may have deficiencies that have prevented your selection?
Umar Amin: The fact is that no one is perfect and every player has some deficiencies which he needs to overcome. If you were to ask the top names in cricket, they would all say that they are not perfect and still have a great deal to learn to improve their skills further. If I had deficiencies that were so critical to my progress then I would never have been asked to play for Pakistan 34 times. I do accept that I still have a lot to learn but to say that I haven’t progressed in international cricket due to deficiencies will be wrong and to prove that, I will once again refer you to my overall record since 2015 which shows that I have improved a lot and my performances have been consistently good.
PakPassion.net: Do you believe that you were asked to play in formats which did not really suit your game?
Umar Amin: I do not agree with this assessment as I feel that whilst my style of play may be distinctive, I have no issues in playing all formats. If we look at my record from 2015 onwards, there is no doubt that I am equally comfortable in red-ball and white-ball cricket. If I had one weakness in my game, it would probably be that I was less consistent in the early part my career but that is all history now.
PakPassion.net: Why do you think you lacked that consistency and how have you gone about fixing that problem?
Umar Amin: I have worked very hard to improve this problem of inconsistent performances and have tried to enhance my concentration levels as before I was lacking in this area. The idea was to work on my consistency so that I would be able to follow up on a good performance with another good performance and so on and my recent record shows that I have been successful in that endeavour. I think there is an impression of my suitability for Test match cricket only based upon my performances in the early part of my international career. But since then, I have worked on my fitness and my power game to bring it in line with the demands of the modern game where aggression is needed during certain match situations. Put simply, there is a huge difference in the Umar Amin of 2010 with the one of today.
PakPassion.net: Are orthodox batsmen not the flavour of the month in cricket anymore?
Umar Amin: In terms of providing entertainment for the audiences and what it means to make the game more useful in financial terms for players and teams, a hard-hitting batsman is much more attractive than a batsman who plays proper shots. The entertainment aspect of cricket seems to be given a lot of importance as we see in the way new T20 and T10 leagues have sprung up in recent times. But for people who truly love and understand the game, the only real format is Test cricket. This is the only format which brings the sort of intensity that does not exist elsewhere in cricket. True fans will appreciate a match situation more where a team has 2 wickets remaining and needs 15 runs to win, with the close of play on the 5th day fast approaching, compared to a situation where 3 balls are left and 6 runs needed to win in a T20 game. Is it, therefore, any surprise that the world’s top Test batsman, Steve Smith, has such a large fan following?
PakPassion.net: At 30 years of age, how hopeful are you of making a comeback in international cricket?
Umar Amin: I am totally optimistic about my future in international cricket and God Willing, I will soon make a comeback for my country. It is my aim to play as much as possible for Pakistan rather than spend the rest of my career playing just domestic cricket and hopefully. I will be successful in my goals.