Akram Raza was a victim of the match-fixing episode of 1994-95. Which first had the then-Pakistan captain Saleem Malik at the center of a storm. And then he lost his place in the national side to the up-and-coming young off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq. It is believed to be one of Saleem Malik’s inner coterie of friends. Akram Raza was also among those slapped with a fine by Justice Abdul Qayyum Commission. That was perhaps the main reason why he was excluded from the Pakistan squad.
That was of course 20 years ago when Commission recommendations came much later. Akram Raza, in any case, hadn’t fulfilled his early promise at least in the Test Cricket arena. In his one-day international career, he played 49 matches. Though he was reasonably successful, conceding only 3.71 runs per over with his accurate but not very penetrative off-spin bowling.
He made his last national-level appearance back in 1994-95. Akram Raza may have found domestic cricket over the years less fulfilling. He has continued to pursue it with the same zeal and enthusiasm as always. He made his mark on the first-class circuit in 1981-82. The spindly thin Akram Raza Test match career has not been quite impressive.
A mere 13 wickets in nine Tests at an average of 56.30 runs apiece. He doesn’t place him in the category of great bowlers by any stretch of the imagination. But he was extremely stingy with giving away runs. His economy rate in the Tests was a mere 2.87 runs per over. Wickets were hard to come by though.
After a prosperous stint in first-class cricket at home. Raza was chosen in the Pakistan Under-23 side that toured Sri Lanka in 1984-85. At that time, he was just 20 years old. It was not until five years later though that he got elevated to the senior national level, playing for both the Test and One-day International teams.
Before he made his farewell appearance in 1994-95. He had toured Sharjah with Pakistan teams on three occasions and once been to India in 1989-90. Where he played in the Nehru Cup competition in which Pakistan beat West Indies in the Final to win the cup.
His major Test plying trips abroad were to New Zealand in 1993-94, Sri Lanka in 1994-95, and to South Africa and Zimbabwe in 1994-95. It was 1989-90 when he made his Test debut in the third Test match of the four-Test home series against India. After losing his place to more experienced Tauseef Ahmad. When he returned some two years later in the 1990-91 rubber against West Indies for a solitary Test and took two wickets to open his account.
He continued to get an odd Test match in subsequent series, but he remained away from the scene for about three years. And he didn’t have a satisfying bowling return until August 1994 when in the Colombo Test against Sri Lanka Pakistan won by 301 runs. He took three wickets in either innings 3 for 46 and 3 for 83. His Test career ended in February 1995, as he toiled for 34 overs in a Zimbabwe inning of 544-4 declared with a return of 0 for 112. Pakistan lost that match in Harare by an innings and 64 runs.
Akram Raza has played league cricket in England for two decades. In 2012, he helped the Read club with the Ribblesdale League title for the first time in 23 years. Where he made 531 runs and 61 wickets in the season. Unfortunately, he had already been told that he was not being retained, as Australian Peter Sleep is returning to Read as a professional that year.
In his 49 One Day International matches, he scored 193 runs at 17.54 with the highest score of 33 not out and held 19 catches. While in bowling he captured 38 wickets at 42.39 each with the best of 3 for 18. In all Limited over’s matches in figures, he played 185 games and scored 1,048 runs with the highest score of 52 not out at a 15.87 average with two fifties, and 88 catches. He took 200 wickets at 28.93 with the best of 5 for 27.
Overall, in his First-Class career, in which he had played 215 matches, scored 5,971 runs at 26.42 with the highest score of 145 not out with three hundred and 28 half-centuries. As a useful fieldsman, he has made 176 catches and taken 649 wickets with his off-spin bowling at an average of 25.45.
His best figures are 7 for 65, and he has bagged five or more wickets in an innings 32 times and 10 wickets in a match on three occasions. After retiring from cricket he took up umpiring, reaching a domestic level in 2008. Akram Raza was reinstated by PCB umpiring panel, following his suspension for his alleged involvement in betting.