Fawad Alam, made his ODI debut for Pakistan in May 2007  ©  AFP
Fawad Alam, made his ODI debut for Pakistan in May 2007 © AFP

Known for his dogged determination at the batting crease and his distinctive batting style, twenty-nine year old Fawad Alam, made his One-Day International (ODI) debut for Pakistan in May 2007. Despite having played a total of 3 Test matches with a highest score of 168 and 38 ODIs in which he has scored 966 runs with a highest total of 114, Alam has struggled to establish himself in the Pakistan batting line-up. In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net Fawad Alam, who is in England to play in cricket games to support charity work, spoke about the anguish of not being selected for the ICC World Cup 2015, the disappointment of not establishing himself in the Pakistan team despite numerous comebacks, and also answered some of the criticisms leveled against his style of batting.

Excerpts from the interview:

PakPassion (PP) : How has the experience been of playing in these charity games in England?

Fawad Alam (FA) : Its simply been a tremendous experience. As you know we are all here to play these games for charity and for a noble cause. This does give us a lot of satisfaction and something every player should also consider doing. Apart from that, it is a great place to meet up with other players and to provide entertainment to the audience.

For instance, if you look at the first game that we played at Lord’s, it had everything in the right proportion. It was competitive and also had light-hearted moments as well. Of course as professional cricketers we do take games seriously so as you know in this game we made 263 and they replied with 225 which is pretty impressive. As far as the crowd is concerned, they were fantastic and enjoyed the day and we had good interaction with them throughout the game.

PP: How difficult was it to handle the disappointment of not being selected for the 2015 World Cup squad?

FA : As a player I know that these things are not in one’s control. However, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t saddened by my exclusion, especially when I did feel that I had made a good case for being part of that squad. Ever since that time, I have been waiting for another opportunity to represent my country. These are life’s tough lessons that one has to learn. I suppose one can say that this is my fate and move on.

PP : During the 2015 World Cup, you were commentating on Pakistan games so it must have felt strange to be watching and not playing alongside your colleagues?

FA : You have to accept reality and take stock of the situation. Yes, I was excluded from the team but there was no point imagining myself in the team. That would be completely counterproductive. Once your name is not in the list for the squad and the team departs for foreign shores then that is the point you stop thinking about yourself and start hoping the best for the team. In fact, throughout the tournament, the Pakistan team had my best wishes and I was hoping for them to succeed and progress into the final stages of the tournament.

PP : Do you think that your below par performances against Australia in October last year was the reason why you were not selected for the 2015 World Cup squad?

FA : I am afraid, I really don’t know what was the real reason. I had pretty solid performances in the bag before those two ODI games in the UAE against Australia so to that couldn’t have been the reason. If you recall, I had scores of 38, 30, 62, 114* and 74 before these games so in my view, my performance was fine. However, these things happen in the lives of cricketers and one has to deal with them.

PP : But is it possible that the selector’s took the view that your batting was not suitable for pitches in Australia?

FA: I can’t see why that would be the case. I played in three ODI games in Australia in January 2010 where I scored 117 runs in total and had a very healthy strike rate as well. I suppose anyone can make a claim about my not being suitable for those pitches but the evidence as shown from my past record in those conditions does point to the contrary. Once again we are down to the what-ifs and I’d rather not venture into that territory and want to look ahead rather than the past.

PP : Given that you are more than a handy bowler, do you think that bowling regularly would make it easier to be selected ?

FA: That may be true and yes I do bowl but I can only prove my worth to the team as a bowling option if I am asked to bowl in the first place. Just talking about and claiming to be a bowler doesn’t help much. The same applies to batting as well. I can only prove myself when given ample chances. As in most things in life, one just needs an opportunity to prove oneself. Similarly in cricket, there really is no other way to judge any player at the international level apart from giving him consistent chances to prove himself.

PP : How important is technique for the success of batsmen at any level of cricket? Is it overrated?

FA : Technique is the most important aspect of a batsman’s skill set. This is what differentiates between an ordinary batsman, someone who can score once in a while and a true great of the game. You do not become a great batsman like Younis Khan who has over 8,000 runs in Test matches and 7,000 runs in ODIs without having technique. Sadly speaking, we don’t have too many batsmen with good technique. If this was the case then Pakistan would have had 10 batsmen with over 20,000 runs in international cricket. I am a firm believer in working and improving one’s technique as a batsman and don’t see any shortcuts to achieving this goal other than hard work.

PP: There seems to be an impression that you are more suited for Test cricket rather than the limited overs format. How do you answer that?

FA : The answer to such criticism is to simply look at my record in List A games (50 over) where I currently play for National Bank of Pakistan (NBP). I have an average of 48.1 and a strike rate of above 80 which speaks volumes for my abilities in the shorter formats of the game. I have scored these runs while batting at number four for NBP, whereas in international level if you are asked to bat at number seven with a few over remaining then chances of putting in a satisfactory performance are pretty low. People seem to ignore this fact and then point to those two matches against Australia and forget my past record or they talk about my performance in the Bangladesh series as if I was the only one who did not play well, which is very painful. It is a bit of a no-win situation for me as who is to say that similar type of unreasonable criticisms will not be leveled at me when I play in Test cricket thus leaving me in no-man’s land.

PP: How demoralizing is it to make so many comebacks in the international team and then not feature again for a while?

FA: It is heart-breaking to still be out of the team after making so many comebacks. There really is no other way to describe that feeling. As you know, one has to work very hard to get into reckoning for selection in the national squad and then to be back to square one because you didn’t perform in a few games does hurt. But this is part and parcel of being an international sportsman. This is my profession and I have a family to feed so I cannot let such setbacks affect my drive to work hard to improve and come back stronger. I just hope and wish that people would look at my overall career before passing judgement on my ability to represent Pakistan. I do believe that I will succeed in establishing myself in the international team eventually but the road to success appears to be a difficult one and my work is cut out in that respect.

PP: What does the future hold for Fawad Alam? The England and possibly the Zimbabwe series are Pakistan’s next international assignments. Are you hopeful of a chance to play in these series?

FA: Yes, I am looking forward to these series with the hope that I will be able to make the squads based upon my performances. I don’t want to worry about the what-ifs and what the future can bring but I am convinced that the Almighty will reward me for my hard work. Apart from these series, I am also interested in playing cricket in domestic leagues and tournaments around the world as they can also help in my career development.

(Amir Husain is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net. The above article is reproduced with permission from Pakpassion.net)