There have been many cricketers that have never gotten the respect that they deserve from the fans, Umar Gul is one of them.
Gul made his international debut in 2003 against Zimbabwe in and ODI, at the age of 18. He was in and out of the Pakistani side till 2007, he showed what he was capable of when he demolished the Star studded Indian top order in Lahore in 2004.
It was his performances in the inaugural T20 WC and the T20 WC in 2009, which brought him to the limelight. Pakistan reached the final of the Inaugural T20, but they lost the final although Gul was very good throughout the tournament. The next T20 world cup was won by Pakistan and it would be fair to say that they would not have been able to accomplish that without Gul, he was outstanding throughout the tournament making full use of reverse swing, bowling Yorkers consistently at the death overs and also taking wickets while being economical, during that WC he took 5 wickets giving away only 6 runs in a high pressure match against New Zealand thus becoming the first player to take 5 wickets in a T20i match.
These performances resulted in Gul being acknowledged across the entire cricketing world. 2009 was a great year for Gul not only did he help Pakistan win the World Cup he also provided support to the new ball pair of Asif and Amir. 2010 proved to be a year that would effect Guls performances for the next couple of years, the spot fixing scandal resulted in Amir and Asif being banned and suddenly all the burden of carrying the attack in T20s, ODIs and Tests was put on the shoulders of Gul.
Gul did not complain of being given this responsibility, he opened the bowling in this period with many different partners, including Akhtar, Razzaq, Tanvir, Hafeez and Tanvir Ahmed. Sometimes he was not given the new ball and was asked to take the old ball. In these 2 years it seemed that the management had given Gul the responsibility of leading the attack but the leader of the attack did not even know what his role was in the team, but Gul did not complain he was never the bowler they wanted him to be but he did his best without criticizing anyone even though his performance declined and he was dropped from the team he still did not complain.
The Decline in his performances resulted in huge criticism from the fans and critics, but Gul never complained and continued to do whatever was asked form him, he did the job that he couldn't have ever done only because Pakistan Cricket was facing a crisis and he himself knew that and his patience will pay off one day.
Gul's patience paid with the emergence of Junaid and Irfan, two excellent new ball bowlers,
In the India series Irfan and Junaid opened the bowling and Gul was given the Old Ball even though he only managed 3 Wickets in 3 Matches his overall economy was under 5 and he did a decent job as the 3rd Seamer as the wickets were already taken by Junaid and Irfan, he even managed to take 2 very important wickets of Sehwag and Yuvraj when India were chasing a target of 275 and also kept things very tight his contribution were very handy as Pakistan won that match, in the 2nd T20i Match when Irfan and Junaid opened the bowling, Gul picked up 5 wickets giving away only 6 runs.
But after the India series Irfan and Junaid were not able to play 1 single Test Match together because of Irfan not being played in the only Test Junaid played due to his injure, Gul was asked to open the bowling in 2 Tests and his performance was not very good, although it should not be forgotten that Smith and Devilliers were dropped of Gul's bowling. In the 1st ODI Irfan was again not played and Gul was asked to open the bowling he started well but couldn't pick up a wicket and was taken for some runs in his next spell, he played the Next ODI and this time he was given the old ball as both Irfan and Junaid were playing but he was only given 5 overs.
One thing seems to be certain after the SA series and that is that Gul will not have to open the bowling in the coming years as Junaid and Irfan have established themselves as the opening bowlers, this will allow Gul to take back his old 3rd seamer role and hopefully he will not disappoint.
No matter what the future holds for him Gul’s efforts in the past Couple of years cannot be ignored he did what was asked for him served Pakistan always gave his 100% and was not involved in any controversy, and also his contribution in the 2009 WC can not be ignored, that WC following the attack on the Srilankan team was very important to the entire nation.