An article was composed today on Cricinfo commemorating Fawad Alam’s century titled, “A tale of two prophecies”, highlighting how Alam’s father and Younis Khan had predicted Fawad would score a century in his debut Test. No other cricket blog has supported Alam so much as Legslip, and if one were to read about Alam on this blog, it would be reasonable to say that Alam’s fairytale has been pinned on more than just two prophecies.
I have narrated the following incident more than once, but for those not aware of it yet, I will do so again. Here I don’t want to take credit for “spotting talent” and neither am I trying to give Javed A Khan and Awas credit for believing in Fawad Alam. But, the first time I noticed something different about Alam was in the final of the ABN AMRO T20 Cup 2006. Karachi lost the final to Sialkot, but Alam went down fighting. The biggest problem with Pakistan cricket of late has been that Pakistan tends to lose humiliatingly very often and shows no fighting spirit. In that match I saw fighting spirit, class, passion and a certain genius. It was not the Tendulkaresque or Yousufesque genius of creating super strokes. It was the genius of ticking the scorecard, rotating strike, punishing the bad ball for the boundary and playing with a big heart. Verily, Sialkot players stood in one line and appluaded this 20 year old as he left the ground injured, for he was the only barrier between Sialkot and that Cup. Never before had I witnessed such a sight in any kind of cricket.
After that as I relayed the domestic performances of Fawad Alam, the other Legslip managers supported him. We spoke about where he would suitably bat in the line up, whom he would replace, and who was playing politics against him. None of us could imagine that Alam would be made to open the innings. It could be Younis’s surprising masterstroke, or it could be a sinister trick contrived by someone with an agenda against Alam. Yet, whatever it was, it worked wonders as Alam became the only Pakistani to score a century on debut outside of Pakistan.
Perhaps Man makes his own destiny, or perhaps it is created for him. What else can explain the singular events
culminating in one of the best knocks by an opener seen in recent times? Perhaps having such resilience, passion for the country and honesty within oneself, is bound to pay dividends. The formula seems simple, but it takes a man and a half for execution. Fawad Alam’s name was on the cards for two years. Despite repeated batting debacles, Fawad was not experimented with. Average players like Malik were preferred and during Malik’s time as captain, Fawad was sidelined so much, as to bat in the line up after the likes of Sohail Tanvir. Yet, he did not lose hope. Sometimes the difference between the winner and the loser is one who sees the glass half full rather than half empty. Fawad emerged as the winner.
No young cricketer has suffered and been made to suffer so much in recent times. And no young cricketer has come out on top like this either in recent times. The scenes we witnessed today as Fawad performed the “sajda” after getting his 50, and then a very long sajda after getting his hundred, signify what he has gone through. When Younis embraced him after his milestone, he was seen wiping tears off his cheeks. Fawad is actually not “young” when you consider the age he has made his Test debut- 23. Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Aamer, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul, Khurram Manzoor- all these players debuted before they were 23. In fact one could say according to Pakistani standards, his entry into international cricket has been at a relatively ripe age.
Pakistan cricket has found a hero. This has been a journey of a fighter, of someone who has strived to look at the bright side of things in times of despair. It has been nothing short of a fairytale, or a rags to riches story. Fawad was right when he said that if you have what it takes mentally, then it does not matter what number you bat on- you are bound to succeed. One would hope future selection of players is based on this criterion, and not other criteria. Today Fawad silenced all critics who thought he was too short, too young, too meek, too modest and who just did not like him for his looks or background.
The premise of the much acclaimed movie, “Slumdog Millionaire”, is that God works in mysterious ways and sometimes, unexpected success and glory is written in destiny, and hence unavoidable. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. This is not to say Alam is a “good person” per se, but something about Alam’s success makes me feel it can teach an invaluable lesson in life. The moral of the story is never to look back in times of adversity, even when you know there is injustice against you. It is a simple formula, but it produces spectacular, unbelievable results.