Fawad Alam: A long wait for the selectors to give him justice

Fawad Alam © Getty Images

By Amir Husain 

Amongst the many cricketers who have played for Pakistan in the past but have never quite made it to the pantheon of the regulars to have represented the national side, no one name ignites more debate than Fawad Alam — the Karachi-based southpaw.

The 28-year-old stylish left-hander made his Test debut against Sri Lanka in 2009 and last played in this format in the same year against New Zealand. With some solid batting performances to his name at international level and the hue and cry raised about the decline in Pakistani batting standards, it is no wonder that like many observers of the game, Alam is unable to comprehend the reasons for his exclusion from the national team.

In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Alam spoke about his disappointment at being overlooked for international duty and his determination to make his way back on the basis of hard work at the domestic level.

Alam’s Test batting average for the three matches he has played stands at a very respectable 41.66 which includes a very impressive 168 (out of a team total of 320) in his debut game against Sri Lanka. Given that his performances in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) are also more than useful, where he averages 37.68 in 27 games with four half centuries to his name, he is quite understandably perplexed about his inability to make his way back into the national team. 

“I’m waiting for that opportunity, that golden chance from the selectors to re-establish myself in international cricket. Playing for Pakistan has always been a dream of mine and I’m not done with international cricket. The hunger to play for Pakistan has always been there and my ambitions have not wavered despite not playing for Pakistan for three years. Being away from international cricket isn’t easy and it’s difficult not being part of the Pakistan team, but I’m not one to give up easily.”

“My record of three Tests makes for painful reading. No cricketer has a God-given right to play for his country, but to only have played three Tests for Pakistan is frustrating and disappointing. You cannot judge a player’s capabilities in just three Tests. You have to allow that player a decent run of matches. Let’s hope that if I get another chance to play Test cricket for Pakistan in future, I’m given a decent run of matches.”

Like many other cricketers who are looking to re-establish themselves in the national team, Alam realises that the only real chance of making it back to the fold is via headline worthy domestic performances. There is no doubt that his career First-Class and List A batting averages place him amongst the top performers in the domestic scene and to continue to stay in contention for a berth in the national squad. He is also currently taking part in Pakistan’s premier first-class President’s Trophy tournament where he is representing National Bank of Pakistan (NBP). In this tournament so far, he has scores of 29 and 19* in the first-class version and 40* in the List A game against PIA — performances which are yet another indication of his form.

“I want to have another successful domestic season and try to catch the eye of the selectors once again. I appreciate there is a lot of competition for places in the Pakistan middle order in all three formats, but I believe that I am no lesser player than some others who have been given opportunities. I just want to score lots of runs in domestic cricket this season, as I have in the last couple of seasons and hopefully my chance will come.”

Pakistan’s Test debacle in the second Test against South Africa made headlines for all the wrong reasons with copious amounts of criticism being dumped on the state of affairs of the batting unit. Whilst Alam probably feels that Pakistan could have done better if they had employed his services, he also understands that the below-par performances do happen and the Pakistan team does deserve our sympathy.

“You cannot be overly critical of the Pakistani batsmen in the recent Test series in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Teams have batting collapses, these things happen. Even South Africa collapsed in Abu Dhabi in the first Test match. It would be wrong to chastise any individual Pakistani batsmen or to lay the blame for the defeat at the hands of any individuals.”

Whilst Alam is naturally elated with his domestic performance and can look back with pride at his nascent Test career, he is also concerned about the reasons for his exclusion from the national squad and feels that critics have been unfair in their judgment about his abilities. Pakistan’s next major assignment at the end of this year will be a “home” series in the UAE against Sri Lanka, the same team against which Alam made his dream debut in 2009 and Alam is looking forward to a return to International cricket. But will the selectors oblige? 

“I’ve heard some say that I’ve had my chance and didn’t succeed or perform to the best of my ability in international cricket. I think that’s harsh especially as I made 168 in my first Test and then after another two Tests I was dropped. You can only win over your critics by performing, by scoring runs and taking wickets. I’ve always backed myself as someone who has what is needed in international cricket; it’s now just a case of waiting for the right time and the chance. I’m certain that if I get another opportunity in international cricket I will not let anyone down.”

(Amir Husain is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net)