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December 9, 2019

It’s like a debut: Fawad


December 9, 2019

KARACHI: Middle order batsman Fawad Alam, who has been recalled to Pakistan’s Test squad for the series against Sri Lank, has said he felt as if he was making his international debut once again.

“It will almost feel like a debut, and that is because it has been such a long time since I last played,” Fawad told reporters in Karachi on Sunday. “Whether I get a game or not depends on the management and the selection committee. I am happy that I have made it to the final 15. Where they feel I can deliver, they’ll give me a chance and I’m confident I’ll perform. The way the conditions and wickets shape up will determine whether I get a chance or not,” he added.

It has been more than ten years since he played the last of his three Tests — at Dunedin in November 2009, and almost five years since he played any international cricket.

He has continued to pile runs in domestic cricket, particularly in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. No player has scored more runs in the tournament than Fawad’s 3105, which have been achieved at an average of 56.45. He was called up to a training camp ahead of the tour of England in 2018 and named in a couple of squads but failed to get a start. But his chances of being in the playing XI are higher this time because he scored a double century only two weeks ago and Pakistan’s batting line failed in Australia recently.

He shrugged off suggestions that he would be under pressure when playing at home — the second Test will be played in Karachi, his hometown. “When a player is playing a club match or a domestic game, there’s still pressure on you. The pressure of performance always remains with you so it is nothing new. That will be there but my job is to overcome it and try to deliver.

“I should try and enjoy the opportunity I’ve been given right now and think positively. If I allow negative thoughts to cloud my mind my focus will be adversely affected. My aim is to make the most of this opportunity,” said Fawad, now 34 years old.

Selectors may have had their reasons, but when players with significantly inferior records were called up and given repeated runs in the side as Fawad sat out, there were suspicions there was something less honest than cricketing strategy behind Fawad’s continued exile.

Fawad, however, chose not to be negative. “If you surround yourself with people who tell you you have been badly treated and fill your mind with negative stuff, then you may feel that sense of injustice. But that’s not what my friends and family were like; they motivated me to perform year after year after year,” he said. “They kept me going and urged me to continue knocking at selectors’ doors. My father always said I must not be upset, to act like a fighter and continue to fight for my place in the side,” he said.

Asked how he felt when former chief selecor Inzamamul Haq compared him to former English batsman Mark Ramprakash, who failed to do well in international cricket despite having a glittering first class career, Fawad said it was a “matter of honour” to be compared to a “great” like Ramprakash.

“It’s a matter of honour for me to have my name tied to Mark Ramprakash. He is just a great player and done so much for his country. The number of runs I have scored is puny compared to how many he has scored. He has scored over one hundred centuries [114] and I am nowhere close to that either. I intend to prove the doubters wrong.

“As for Inzi bhai, he is a legend of ours; I’m nowhere near him,” he said. “I’m not worthy of snapping back at Inzamam in anyway, and that is not the way I was brought up. I was taught to respect my elders, and Inzi bhai is entitled to his own viewpoint. I don’t feel it is appropriate to respond to him because I have too much respect for him.”

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