LAHORE: Pakistan cricket’s ‘enfant terrible’ Umar Akmal has left Pakistan mid-season to try and explore opportunities playing league cricket in the USA. He has signed a short-term contract with the Northern California Cricket Association but is open to weighing up his options including a long-term deal severing his allegiances with Pakistan cricket. He is representing California Zalmi in the ongoing season of the Premier C league. Akmal was recently reintegrated into cricket after completing his ban for breaching the PCB’s anti-corruption code, but his comeback wasn’t well-received within the circuit. The PCB helped him follow his rehabilitation program, but his selection for the top domestic teams remained on hold. He was asked to play for a second XI team instead of a first XI team, and therefore hasn’t been involved in the ongoing National T20 Cup, which clashed with his expectation that he would come back where he left off, at the top level. After scoring 0, 14, 7, 16 and 29 for the Central Punjab Second XI in the PCB Cricket Associations T20 tournament, he decided to move away from domestic cricket — at least for the time being. It isn’t clear if Akmal will miss the entire season, with the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy set to start from October 20 and the One-day Cup from February 25. But with his future uncertain and no buyers among the six provincial associations, he has decided to pursue his ambitions elsewhere. His family has confirmed he has left for the USA, but maintain that his older brother Kamran — three of the Akmal siblings have played Test cricket for Pakistan — was not involved in his decision-making. One family member expressed the view that Akmal had been subject to biased treatment. Akmal, 31, has coughed up plenty of fines over his career but the recent ban has hit him the hardest. After a lengthy legal battle with the PCB, his 18-month ban was slashed by six months by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), making him eligible for an early return to representative cricket. He had originally been banned for three years for not reporting spot-fixing approaches made to him before the start of the 2020 PSL. He admitted a part of the charges but never accepted the length of the sanction, with lawyer citing similar cases from the past to build a case that others facing similar charges had been banned for less time. Following two appeals, one before the PCB arbitrator and one with the CAS, his ban was first cut down to a year-and-a-half and later by another six months. Akmal’s career has been beset by several discipline issues, which have often overshadowed his cricket. He burst onto the international arena in 2009 as 19-year-old with huge promise, scoring 129 and 75 on Test debut in New Zealand. But his inconsistency and his troubled relationship with the PCB and the team management gradually led his career to slump. After 16 Tests from 2009 to 2011, he never wore Pakistan’s whites again, and though he went on to play 121 ODIs and 84 T20Is, his career seemingly ground to a halt in 2017.