Fawad Alam's continued non-selection for Pakistan continues to baffle fans and media alike. Currently playing for Clitheroe in the Lancashire League in England, Alam, in a special interview, opened up about how he remains positive about his chances of a Pakistan comeback, the reasons behind him playing for Clitheroe, his admiration for Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq and how he hopes the selectors will give him a proper chance for Pakistan. Excerpts:
You're playing in the Lancashire League for Clitheroe, what are your aims and hopes for this opportunity?
This league has a good standard of cricket and participating in it gives me an excellent chance to gain some experience in different conditions. It's an opportunity to learn at a time when there is very little cricket going on back home in Pakistan. It's also a chance to improve and mature and enhance yourself as a cricketer.
There are many people who felt you should have been part of the Pakistan Test squad that toured the West Indies...
I want to thank all my supporters and fans. I really appreciate their kind words and support for me. I appreciate their love and prayers and always have done so. I cannot really comment on why I was not selected and what the thoughts of the selectors are, but I am happy with my recent form and performances and perhaps it's not in my destiny to play for Pakistan. Let's see, all I can do is hope and stay positive.
Your statistics in domestic cricket are excellent. Do you think the selectors are ignoring those players who perform consistently in domestic cricket?
There are obviously some reasons why I am not being given another chance, despite performing consistently in domestic cricket. I guess this could simply be a case of 'liking' and 'disliking', but I cannot say for sure. In the past, when the selectors recalled me, I performed and then I was dropped again without any reason. You don't make players by continually picking them and then dropping them. You shatter the confidence of players if you keep ignoring their performances. If you perform for your country and do well and then get dropped, well that is just confusing and demoralising.
You mention likings and disliking, can you elaborate on this point?
I know what is going on and I would land in a lot of trouble if I spilled the beans. I know what is going on behind the scenes and if I tell the truth then there will be a huge storm and backlash so I guess it's best to keep quiet on this topic.
How do you cope with the continuous disappointments?
The fact is that a player can only develop if he is given chances on a consistent basis, not dropped, picked and then dropped again after a few matches. If you pick a player and give him a proper chance then that player will perform and repay the trust in him. You have to give players some leeway when it comes to performing well straight away when they are new to international cricket or when they are making a comeback. I just have to keep on making runs and performing in domestic cricket for SSGC and stay strong and positive and ensure that when I do get another chance for Pakistan, I am on solid ground and cannot be dropped. I've sort of got used to the disappointments now as they have been so regular. My family plays an important part as they help me remain positive and back me all the way. I just feel like I have been the fall-guy for the selectors, the man they drop as soon as something goes wrong or when there is one bad result.
You are 31 now, is time running out for that international recall?
I think if you stay fit then age is just a number. Look at the many Australian players who have made their international debuts at the age of 31. I take my levels of fitness very seriously and I believe that as long as you are fit and performing, you will always be in the eye of the selectors. I feel that whatever is written for me in the stars will happen eventually. Who knows, maybe I will get recalled for Pakistan at the age of 35 or even older, let's see how this plays but I will never give up.
Many feel that you struggle to play the big shots when needed. What's your response to that accusation?
Any player can power-hit when needed. You only have to look at my performances in domestic limited-overs tournaments where I have hit many sixes. You don't get any extra runs if the ball goes out of the stadium. If power-hitting is about hitting sixes, well I can hit sixes and have done so on many occasions. My theory is that you have to build an innings, you have to mix it up with singles and doubles and then hit sixes also. You have to mix it up, no player can hit sixes off every ball. I have faith in my ability and I don't really worry about those who say I cannot power-hit. I think some people just need an excuse to find faults in my batting.
Your thoughts on the careers of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan?
My words are not enough to praise these two legends. They served Pakistan cricket with pride and dignity. Misbah's achievements as Pakistan captain are historic. To take Pakistan to number one position in Tests was just incredible. Not only did he lead the team well but his own performances were exceptional.
Regarding Younis Khan, I dream of performing like he did for Pakistan. His career has been fantastic and what he has achieved is just incredible. The records he has broken are eye-opening and to score 10,000 Test runs is just amazing. He has performed brilliantly all around the world and he has been a role-model for so many of us. He was a hero to so many of us players and an inspiration to us.
The Pakistan team has relied on both of them for so long and when those two were in the Pakistan middle-order anything was possible and the opposition always knew that these two were the key wickets. The other batsmen played and improved around Misbah and Younis and Pakistan will badly miss both of them. Hopefully Pakistan will find good replacements for both of them very soon. I thank them both for their services to cricket and we will all miss them. I really enjoyed watching them bat and it was an honour to play alongside both of them. I learnt a lot from both of them, especially Younis. both men were always so positive, mentally tough and great fighters.
Two spots will now become available in the Pakistan middle-order following the retirements of Misbah and Younis. Can you fill one of those spots?
Look, spots have become available in the past as well but I was ignored so the omens don't look too good. I was ignored when spots were available in the One-Day team not so long ago as well as when spots became available in the Test side. I'm hopeful, but let's see as nothing is predictable.
Do you think your First-class average of over 56 is being ignored and taken for granted by the selectors?
I think my performances in First-class cricket are irrelevant when it comes to my selection. It seems to me that other players’ runs in domestic cricket are of a greater importance and more relevant to the selectors. Maybe my domestic runs are being scored in Bangladesh or Kenya or elsewhere and not in Pakistan, so that's why they are not important and are being totally ignored.
What do you feel the future holds for you, more frustration and agony or a turnaround in fortunes?
I have to stay positive as cricket is my profession and my honour. My well-wishers say that there has been injustice against me and that is an honour for them to say this. I have earned a lot of respect in my career and that is something that I will not throw away. My father has always taught me to earn respect and to respect the game of cricket. My father has always been a staunch supporter of me and I don't want to ever let him or my fans down. My uncle who also played cricket has been a huge help and a supporter as well. I would never dream of letting these people down and they are why I am still positive and have the hunger to perform well and play for my country. If I don't do well, or get dropped, my family is always very hurt, but that acts as a motivator for me to do even better and to make my family and fans happy. My philosophy is simple: to not worry about the critics, to just remain positive and patient and my chance will eventually come.