The title of this thread must be the story of Fawad Alam’s career.
In the T20 match against Australia, Fawad Alam took 2 catches quite safely which was a complete contrast to how Salman Butt and Misbah fielded. Then, he came into bat when 71 runs were needed off 30 balls and managed 16 runs from 11 balls including one sixer. He came into bat at no 8, just before the tailenders, Sami, Aamer and Ajmal.
Generally some regional-minded/biased people accuse Fawad Alam of being a usless batsman because of his so-called inability to hit boundaries and inability to “win matches”. Yet, all logic, reason, fairness is swept under the carpet in his criticism. Whereas I ignore the biased representations of these people who want to see more of Malik, Misbah and Butt and less of Alam, Afridi and Younis etc, it is quite concerning that some fairer and more educated people have started losing patience with Fawad Alam. This thread is aimed at them.
In ODI’s, Alam has played 459 deliveries in 15 innings. That is an average of under 31 balls per match. It must be noted that Alam does not play as a pinch hitter, but as a run accumulator and facilitator. If we compare the balls Alam has faced to the balls other batsmen have faced per match, this is what we get:
Butt- 46 balls/match, Umer Akmal- 40 balls/match, Misbah- 38 balls/match, Malik-38 balls/match, Younis-39 balls/match, Yousuf- 48 balls/match…
In T20’s, the comparison is thus:
Butt- 23 balls, U Akmal- 24 balls, Misbah- 22, Younis- 17, Malik- 18, F Alam- 10
So, we have now established that Alam plays less balls per match than all of Pakistan’s main batsmen.
In 15 ODI innings, Alam has played at the batting position no 6 or below, 12 times. In T20’s he has played 13 innings and has batted at no 6 or below, 11 times. So it is established that Alam is usually sent to bat lower down the order and does not get the opportunity to face many balls, yet why is so much expected of him? Why is he expected to create miracles when no one is bothered to respect his abilities first? This applies not only to the team management, but also to commentators and bloggers.
In terms of what Fawad Alam has done in his very short career:
1) He hit 3 sixes in 5 balls and played a match winning knock against Sri Lanka in Canada
2) He hit 168 in a debut knock on a seaming track, the next highest score in the match from Pakistan was 82 by Younis and then barely anyone else could reach 25 on that pitch. He hit a six when he was on 92, he played that knock with a strike rate of 66.
3) He played valuable T20 and ODI knocks against Sri Lanka and India, assisting players like Malik, Misbah and Akmal on at least 1 occasion each in finishing matches
4) He played a determined knock against England, complementing Razzaq very well. Those who saw the match knew Pakistan could not have won without his contribution.
5) He took an excellent catch off Umer Gul, and then effected a brilliant run out in a recent match which changed momentum for Pakistan in that game (I forget who the opposition was). After his spirited effort Pakistani bowlers and fielders looked rejuvenated and performed well.
The above is not a comprehensive list by any means. The point is that in his relatively short career he has already shone on a few occasions, but why don’t people recognise this? I can’t remember 5 occasions when Butt, Malik or Misbah did something amazing in their long careers. Not only have these 3 failed miserably as batsmen most of the times, they have also let the team down by virtue of their fielding. Somehow critics expect Alam to achieve feats even Tendulkar and Lara and incapable of achieving, but at the same time find Butt, Misbah and Malik’s constant selection (Malik’s, until very recently) understandable?
It was clear that Pakistan lost this match against Australia because of Misbah’s and Butt’s fielding, yet why did people have to question Fawad’s handling of this period when 70+ runs were needed of 30 balls and no other recognised batsman was there to support him?
Fawad Alam is an asset for the team because of a number of reasons:
1) He can play under pressure
2) He keeps the strike rotating
3) He is an excellent fielder
4) He plays with determination, he appears modest and does not have a big mouth or ego
Every player in international limited overs cricket must be assessed on a “net utility” basis. The player’s all round capabilities must be observed simply because international cricket has become a high stakes and competitive game. If a player makes 35 runs regularly, but then gives away 10 runs because of his poor fielding, then that player’s worth to the team is really only 25 runs. In my mind given the chance Alam is capable of batting better than players like Misbah and Malik. That coupled with his fielding, makes his net utility very high, and as such a very valuable player for the team.
Amidst the pinch hitters (Afridi, Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Akmal, Razzaq) , slow players (Butt) and selfish players (Misbah, Malik) you need to have someone who can rotate the strike and occasionally put the bad ball away for a boundary, someone who can take pressure off by taking quick singles and doubles etc. If Alam is properly utilised he can become a great player- the problem is that due to policies of bias and favouritism he is not getting chances to perform.
The travesty is that, we expect Alam to do something which is his weakest point- hit 4s and 6s regularly and convert losing causes into winning results. It is this travesty that is destroying the career of a potentially great cricketer for Pakistan.