Still going strong

December 1, 2019

Despite being ignored time and again by the selectors, Fawad Alam hasn’t lost hope and continues to score big on the domestic circuit

Normally the procedure of selecting the players for the national cricket team is based on the players' performance in domestic matches. But the selection of Pakistan national cricket team has always been controversial because it is not based on domestic performances.

Despite the presence of Azhar Ali, Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq the batting department looked shaky against Australia’s fast bowlers in the first Test at Gabba.

Fawad Alam, a prolific scorer in domestic circuit, was again ignored for the Australia tour. Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has said that Fawad was overlooked for the tour of Australia since Iftikhar Ahmed was chosen as the extra middle-order batsman in the side.

Misbah defended his decision saying that Iftikhar had a better average than Fawad last season. But selecting Iftikhar on the basis of performance in just one season was unjust with Fawad. Iftikhar has an overall average of 40.14 runs in first class matches. Fawad, who has played 163 first- class matches, has maintained an average of over 55 runs.

Fawad is one of the most talented but unfortunate players. Despite having enormous talent and excellent domestic record, he has failed to cement his place in the national team. Despite being treated so badly, he remains silent and lets his bat speak for him.

During Sindh’s recent Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match against Southern Punjab, he scored his 33rd first-class century. It was his third hundred in the season and eighth at National Stadium, Karachi. He also completed 12,000 runs in first-class cricket.

Fawad made his Test debut as an opener against Sri Lanka in Colombo in July 2009 and scored a century. He played his last Test the same year in November against New Zealand at Dunedin. His average in three Tests was 41.66. Since then he has not been considered for Test matches.

He has played 38 One-day Internationals for Pakistan, scoring 966 runs, averaging 40.25. He has hit one hundred and six fifties. He last played for Pakistan in 2015 in Dhaka against Bangladesh.

After his excellent domestic performance from September 2014 to August 2015 in which he made two centuries, 201 and 164, and five fifties in 14 innings, he was named in the 15-man squad for the home series against England in the UAE in October 2015, but he returned without playing a match.

Fawad is the second fastest to score 10,000 first-class runs in Pakistan. He did so in 189 innings. Mohammad Yousuf and Misbah achieved the landmark in their 219th and 221st innings, respectively.

He made his first-class debut in 2003 at the age of 17. Fawad is capable of playing at different positions. He is also a good fielder and handy slow left-arm orthodox bowler. His average in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in the past four years has been 40.71, 55.54, 56 and 71.90.

Ignoring Fawad proves that performance in domestic circuit is not the criteria for selection in the national team. Fawad has much better record than many players who have got chances regularly.

Former PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan during his tenure said that he was disappointed over Fawad's omission. "If it was up to me, Fawad would still be among our centrally contracted players, but now it would be difficult for him to make a comeback to the national side due to his age," he said.

But if age is the reason for not picking 34-year-old Fawad, how did Misbah and Younis Khan play at the age of 42 and 38, respectively? Shoaib Malik (37), Azhar Ali (34), Asad (33) Yasir Shah (33), and Wahab Riaz (34) have also been playing for Pakistan.

Last year during the camp for Ireland and England Test series at National Cricket Academy (NCA) in a Yo-Yo Endurance Test Fawad scored an impressive 19, proving that even at the age of 32 he was fitter than youngsters like Babar Azam, Hassan Ali and Fakhar Zaman who all managed 18 points on the fitness scale.

But the then chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq defended his decision to not pick Fawad Alam saying that he had seen better players than Fawad in the last three years.

Pakistan’s then captain Sarfraz Ahmed said that the decision to not select Fawad for the tour of Ireland and England was taken jointly.

Both Inzamam and Sarfraz said the national team's doors were not closed on Fawad. It was a funny thing to say. If a player is not getting chance in his best form, when will he?

Perhaps all these things are not enough. Despite being ignored time and again, Fawad has never blamed anyone. In an interview he said: "A player's job is to remain fit and keep on performing in whatever opportunities you get in the domestic circuit. These things pay off one day. As far as my selection is concerned, only the selection committee can answer that question. I'm trying my hardest to do whatever is expected of a player."

The luck is not in favour of Fawad and at the age of 34, there is very rear chance that he can wear the green cap again.

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Pakistan cricket team selection: Still going strong