Representing Pakistan is a dream of every young cricketer but there are very few who achieve this feat. There are a lot of cricketers, who played a few Test matches for Pakistan and disappeared. They include such players as Ijaz Faqih, Rashid Khan, Zakir Khan, Shahid Mahboob, Nadeem Ghauri, Zahoor Elahi and Naved Anjum.
Fawad Alam is one of the unfortunate players who despite having enormous talent and excellent domestic record has failed to cement his place in the national team.
Fawad made his Test debut as an opener against Sri Lanka in Colombo in July 2009 and scored 184 runs in his first Test. 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, though, 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 being dropped from all formats for around three years after debut, he earned a deserved recall for the Asia Cup in 2014. Against hosts Bangladesh, he scored a match-winning 74 off 70 balls while chasing.
In the next match, the final against Sri Lanka, he scored his maiden ODI century (114 not out), taking his side from 18-3 to 260-5.
Despite his remarkable average of 69 in eight ODIs in 2014, he was not considered for World Cup 2015.
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 getting any chance.
Earlier this month, during the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match against SSGC in Sialkot, Fawad scored 108 runs and completed his 10,000 runs in first-class cricket.
He reached the milestone during his 211th innings and became the second fastest after legendary Hanif Mohammad who completed 10,000 first-class runs in 189 innings. Mohammad Yousuf and Misbah-ul-Haq achieved the landmark in their 219th and 221st innings, respectively.
He made his first-class debut in 2003 at the age of 17 and during his 13 years first class career, Fawad has played 132 matches and managed an excellent average of 56.93. He has scored 24 centuries and 53 fifties. Batting average wise, he is the only Pakistani in all-time 20 great batsmen of first class cricket.
Fawad was the fifth highest run-getter in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2006–07 domestic season. He took five wickets in the Twenty20 Cup final for which he got Man-of-the-Match award. He was also declared Man-of-the-Series.
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.
Despite many controversies and inconsistent performances, Umar Akmal played 16 Test matches for Pakistan in which he scored 1003 runs, averaging 35.82.
Last month when PCB announced new central contract list, Fawad was cut from the contracted list of players along with Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan. Fawad had a category-C contract last year.
Realising the consisting performance of Fawad, PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan earlier this month said that he was disappointed about middle-order batsman Fawad’s omission from the list of centrally contracted players released last month. “If it was up to me, Fawad would still be among our centrally contracted players,” he said.
He said it would be difficult for him to make a comeback to the national side due to his age. But if age is the reason for not picking 31-year-old Fawad, why are Misbah-ul-Haq (42) and Younis Khan (38) in the team?, Azhar Ali (31), Asad Shafiq (30) Yasir Shah (30), Wahab Riaz (31) and Sohail Khan (32) are also playing for Pakistan.
Fawad is capable of playing on different positions. He is also a good fielder and handy slow left-arm orthodox bowler.
With his super fitness and consecutive outstanding domestic performances, Fawad was hopeful for England tour, but he was axed for reasons known only to Inzamam and company.
Before the England tour PCB arranged a fitness camp at PMA Kakul where Fawad, Misbah, Younis and Shan Masood were declared the fittest cricketer.
On not being selected for England tour, dejected Fawad said: “I am used to this treatment. This is nothing new for me. Everything happens according to Allah’s will. My faith is strong. If I say I’m not disheartened I’d be lying to myself, I am disheartened and why shouldn’t I be?”
Pakistan Test team under Misbah is settled, but Fawad can provide useful support for our fragile ODI and T20 batting lineup.