OpinionFawad Alam’s Homecoming

Fawad Alam’s Homecoming

A Second Test Debut: Fawad Alam’s Homecoming

A young boy of Karachi had aimed to play for Pakistan, but he never knew that his patience would be tested forever. He played his 1st Test match for the country when he was 24 years old but was dropped after just three appearances. Then, he had to wait for 11 long years until his next appearance for the national side in late-2019. He is none other than Fawad Alam. Scoring a century in his first Test match against a spin-dominant Sri Lankan side, he showed a lot of promise, but then, he was sidelined after just a couple of poor matches. Opening is a difficult task in a Test match, especially in recent times, and Fawad was given the task of becoming an opening batsman in his debut series when he was a prolific middle-order batsman.

The left-hander made his debut in 2009 after a few years of domestic cricket. By then, he had compiled more than 3,500 runs in First Class cricket at an average of almost 57, with five hundreds and 26 fifties. More importantly, he was selected in the Test team based on his regular run in white-ball cricket as he was a consistent member of Pakistan’s limited-overs sides (by then, he had played 11 ODIs and 13 T20Is). After being dropped from the Test team, he came back to Pakistan’s domestic cricket system. There, he piled on the runs season after season in the 2010s.

Season Innings Runs Highest Average 100s 50s
2010-11 15 832 196 64.00 4 3
2011-12 21 1062 157* 62.47 3 2
2012-13 25 1069 153* 48.59 4 4
2013-14 14 658 112* 54.83 2 4
2014-15 11 719 201 71.90 2 3
2015-16 14 672 224* 56.00 1 4
2016-17 11 499 108 55.44 1 3
2017-18 17 570 124 40.71 2 3
2018-19 13 699 170* 69.90 3 1
2019-20 13 781 211 71.00 4 2
Overall 154 7561 224* 58.16 26 29

The stats show that the lowest average Fawad had during a domestic season in the 2010s was 40.71, not bad at all, as averages in the same season were very low. He scored runs at crucial stages for the National Bank of Pakistan and Karachi Region. All the numbers he put up were outstanding, more than enough for him to be considered for Pakistan again. But he wasn’t considered for a long time, and only the Almighty knows why.

Fawad Alam’s overall First Class record shows a career average of 56.12 with 37 centuries and 61 fifties to date. He has more than 12,000 runs, far beyond most of his peers. However, Fawad has never been given a chance to play on Pakistani soil at the international level, and he’s now 35 years old. At last, after toiling hard for a long time, he finally has the chance to play at home against South Africa. It is a much-deserved homecoming for Fawad Alam, as he is likely to be part of the playing XI for the first Test. Finally, he will play not only in home conditions, but also at his home ground at National Stadium in Karachi.

The two Test venues where South Africa has to play are Karachi and Rawalpindi. Fawad has had success at both of them. He averages 68.82 at National Stadium, Karachi (NSK) across 26 matches with 10 centuries and 8 fifties. His record at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium is outstanding too, with an average of 63.83 in 9 games, with 2 centuries and 4 half-centuries. Rawalpindi has been a bowling-friendly ground, but Fawad is one of the few batsmen to have tasted success there.

Despite talks of spin-friendly pitches, South Africa is likely to opt for a strong pace attack in the Test matches, especially in Rawalpindi. Pakistan’s pitches usually offer support for the faster men. Unlike India, Sri Lanka, or Bangladesh, Pakistan’s pitches rarely turn square on Day 4 or 5 of Tests. Faster bowlers have often dismissed Fawad, but he has also scored most of his runs against them. His recent century against a pace attack of top quality in New Zealand showed the veteran’s batting’s quality and character. Perhaps the time has arrived for Fawad to firmly establish himself in the Test team, as he is finally an automatic selection for the first time.

People can now move on from the technique and stance debate, as no one with substantial flaws can achieve what Fawad has. This series can be a career-changing moment for Fawad; generally, people are discussing the future of young players picked for this series, but it is equally important for Fawad. He can probably serve Pakistan for the next 3-4 years if he remains fit and consistently performs. It is also a big moment for him, as he’s waited for a very long time to finally play a Test match in Pakistan, and that, too, at NSK. His friends, family, fellow players, coaches, and most importantly, Fawad himself will be delighted to be wearing the green cap on home turf at last. Hence, let us wish the best of luck to Fawad Alam for the series against South Africa, as this is his much-awaited homecoming.

The opinions expressed solely belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Grassroots Cricket.

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