There are some enduring mysteries in international cricket, those that produce no satisfactory answer. Why the Lord’s ground slopes precipitously from north to south, whether WG Grace was a deity or a dirtbag, and how cricket can claim to be a global sport when next year’s World Cup will have fewer participants than its kabaddi counterpart.
One to add to that catalogue of conundrums is the continued non-selection of Fawad Alam in the Pakistan Test side. There have been numerous changes of coaching staff, selection committees, and board chairman who have disagreed on whether it was sunny or cloudy. But one issue that has united all since 2009 was that Fawad does not deserve a place in the country’s Test side. Is it because he wasn’t batting well enough? No, his domestic average is among the highest in Pakistan history. Would he unbalance the side? Unlikely, given his left-arm spin makes him an all-round option. Fitness issues? None whatsoever, he has consistently been among the fittest of his compatriots.
Here, we look at what has happened to the 32-year old since he last played a red-ball international for Pakistan, almost nine years ago.
Fawad plays his third Test. It is at Dunedin, the first of a two-match Test series. Pakistan lose by 32 runs, Fawad scores 29 and 5. He is dropped for the second Test, which Pakistan win. He is yet to play another Test.
Pakistan chief selector Mohsin Khan calls for the T20 team to be entirely separate from the other two formats, apart from “outstanding players like Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Fawad Alam Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul, who fit into every format”.
For all of 2010, Fawad is a regular in the ODI team. In 13 games, he scores 532 runs at an average of 35.72. This comprises three ODIs against Australia, and five against each of England and South Africa. During this time, he is the third-highest run-scorer for Pakistan with 393 runs, behind only Afridi and Umar Akmal. He is also a regular in the T20I side, despite scoring just 98 runs at an average of 12.25.
He doesn’t play any more international cricket till 2014.
Fawad says it is beyond him why he is “nowhere in the scene” for national selection. In the previous Quaid-e-Azam trophy season, he averaged over 66, and in the President’s One-Day Cup, over 71.
He plays an ODI for the first time since 2010, scoring 74 off 70 balls in an Asia Cup game against Bangladesh, helping Pakistan to victory off the penultimate delivery. He is a regular in the ODI side that year, but is dropped for the 2015 World Cup squad after a poor showing against Australia as Pakistan suffer a 3-0 whitewash. Even so, he averages 69 with the bat for the year.
Fawad is called up for the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh immediately following the World Cup. He scores 14, 0, and 4 as Pakistan suffer a historic whitewash. Fawad is dropped, perhaps for the last time.
Fawad is called up for the remainder of the tour of Sri Lanka, having recently enjoyed a prolific tour while captain of the Pakistan A side. He was the second-highest scorer in the unofficial ODI series, averaging 99.5, and averaged just under 50 in the unofficial Test series.
He doesn’t play any game on the tour.
Fawad is called up for Pakistan’s three-Test series in the UAE against England. He has enjoyed a brilliant domestic season, amassing 719 runs at an average of 71.9
He plays no part in the series.
Fawad Alam is left out of a 22-man probable camp for the tour of England. He topped the fitness tests, and domestically tallied 672 runs at an average of 56.
In a season where the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy pitches gain notoriety for being minefields for batsmen, Fawad is the sixth-highest runscorer over the season. He is called up for a 25-man training camp ahead of a tour to Ireland and England.
But he doesn’t make the 16-man squad.