“They always wanted me to fail”

Published Sep 02, 2013 02:26pm
"Only when I fail in the middle should people point fingers. I am shocked when I hear that I don’t deserve to be selected."
"Only when I fail in the middle should people point fingers. I am shocked when I hear that I don’t deserve to be selected."

It was at the C.C.C nets behind Nishat cinema when I saw Javed Miandad’s nephew for the first time. The 13-year-old boy rode on the reputation of his maternal uncle. He seemed to possess talent but so did others, though, what made him exceptional were the genes of the greatest batting icon Pakistan had ever produced. Due to his pedigree, Faisal Iqbal was special from day one.

The first major opportunity that came for boys his age was the 1996 U15 World Cup. Extensive trials were held across all provinces and the team selected showcased some of the best adolescent talent in the country.

Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Arafat, Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik came through the talent hunt while Bazid Khan s/o Majid Khan and Imran Qadir s/o Abdul Qadir also made it to the fray. From Karachi emerged the highly gifted Hasan Raza and team captain Faisal Iqbal. At first glance, Faisal appeared to be an astute leader with a good cricketing brain. The young team performed well, but eventually lost in the final at Lords to arch rivals, India.

From an early age kids understand how the parchee (recommendation) system works in Pakistan and embrace the dynamics of provincial and personal biases, it is an integral part of cricket’s sociopolitical culture that stretches across all levels of the sport in the country. The Pakistani youth is cultivated in this environment, while some manipulate and benefit from the prevalent climate, others just learn to live under it without much choice.

Faisal always came across as a bloke who had gotten a head start.

On his debut in New Zealand at the age of 19 he met with immediate success, scoring 42 in the first innings and 52 not out in the second. He followed that up with a 63 in his next innings but more importantly he had spent almost 10 hours at the crease in his first three Test innings, showing stomach for the big stage.

His dream start in international cricket did not last very long as his average quickly fell below par. Yet, he remained on the fringes of national selection through domestic success. Though, given his lineage, one usually assumed nepotism.

When there is a tough series, Faisal goes to bat at three. When there is an easy series, Faisal is the 12th man. It has always been this way.

He averaged in the mid twenties yet made it to the squad regularly. He appeared as excess baggage that Pakistan carried around, usually only sighted on tour at short leg or carrying drinks. It is baffling that he has been on the squad for most part of the last decade, but has played only 26 games.

With a decent young crop of middle-order batsmen recently unearthed in Pakistan, why do we still see Faisal’s name on the squad? If he was getting special treatment, why wasn’t he getting any games? His consistent selection and even more consistently being kept on the back burner displays an odd strategy adopted by Pakistan cricket, that is, if they have any.

So what’s Faisal’s side of the story? The 31-year-old batsmen tells all in an exclusive interview with Dawn.com

Hi Faisal, I hope it is not too late for you?

FI: Its 1:30 in the morning (in Lahore) but it is okay. When I am going on an assignment I try to adjust my biological clock according to the country I am touring. (It was 10:30 pm in Harare, Zimbabwe)

It is a very short tour with back to back games.

FI: Yes, that is how cricket has become. (For Pakistan)

You have been in and out of the team for almost 13 years; it’s a long time.

FI: The only reason I have been able to survive in this set up is my mental strength. I have put my head down and kept scoring in domestic cricket to keep my career alive. (Scoring 15,000 runs averaging over 40 in first class and List-A cricket)

Do you think you have done justice to your talent?

FI: Since I have made my debut, I have been kept as a replacement player. Usually been given single games in between long gaps; sometimes one game in 12 months. Plus, they played me at different batting positions all the time, how is a player meant to perform or settle? (Played in positions 3,4,5,6 and 7 in 26 games)

Why do you think you have not been given an extended run in the team?

FI: It has been a 99.9 % disadvantage in my career to be the nephew of Javed Miandad. There has been a lobby that has been against him from his playing and then his coaching days and continues to be so. I have just been an easy target and have gotten caught in political cross fire.

But there is a public perception that Faisal is selected because of Javed Miandad.

FI: Public follows the direction of the wind and maybe do not know that the poor guy has scored up to the throat in domestic cricket so he can be selected. I have been labeled all my life and it’s a tag difficult to get rid of. (Branding)

Does being from Karachi also affect you?

FI: Ninety per cent being Miandad’s nephew and 10% being from Karachi. Historically, every player from Karachi is affected, you know how it is, this is normal. (The provincial bias)

In so many years of international cricket, which has been your favourite innings?

FI: Surely the one against India, it was in Karachi and my century helped Pakistan win the Test match and the series, it is what is most important, for the team to win. It was also my comeback game after a break of three years. (His comeback ended during the series in England, his return lasted only eleven innings; 139, 2, 60, 5, 0, 48, 3, 29, 0, 11 and 58*)

My personal favourite was the courageous one against Australia, or Shane Warne rather. (This one)

FI: That is the innings after which the lobby started working against me, instead of encouraging young cricketers, methods are used to suppress them.

Hasn’t time broken your resolve?

FI: I take things positively; maybe I would not have become as good a player as I am today if I had not gone through the process. Scenarios create a person and mine has made me into the cricketer I am today. It has only made me work harder and improve my game.

But you are not 22 anymore, time is running out.

FI: The advantage that I got was that I started very early. Now I can use a lot of that experience.

You shouldn’t lose hope. Misbah and Hussey are prime examples of careers that took off very late.

FI: I never lose heart.

How can you justify your poor Test average?

FI: The normal thing is when you fail you go back to domestic, improve and make a comeback. Then you improve your average. There are a lot of examples like Hafeez and Misbah that have made comebacks and have improved their averages. My domestic performance shows that I am a better player than I used to be but I cannot improve my average sitting on the toilet seat. (Mathew Hayden averaged 26.4 in his first 20 innings played between 1994 – 2000, though, Misbah and Hafeez might be better examples in Faisal’s case)

Some people feel that Faisal does not have a place in the squad.

FI: Only when I fail in the middle should people point fingers. I am shocked when I hear that I don’t deserve to be selected. What have I done wrong in the last couple of years not to be selected? (He has not played a Test match in three and half years but has been a part of the squad for a year and a half)

You sound like a victim.

FI: After I retire, I will write an autobiography with the title ‘victimized’ or something. (He better make some international runs if he wants to sell his book)

But you have been given so many chances.

FI: There has always been propaganda and a plan to destroy my career. If you carefully study my career, they always wanted me to fail. I have gotten chances but they have not been fair. (Every third game has been a comeback game for Faisal)

Your wife is a South African, ever thought of settling in South Africa and playing in the leagues there.

FI: I am a nationalist and have never thought about anything but Pakistan. My heart has always been in Pakistan. The prime example is when I rejected my contract with the ICL, only because I wanted to play for Pakistan. The rest of them went for the money, I did not. (Integrity seems intact)

Do you have any regrets?

FI: I have only two regrets, once I got out on 48 at Lord’s and once on 48 in Melbourne. I really wanted to score big in those innings.

You were dropped after that series in Australia, maybe not being able to convert that 48 was a part of the reason.

FI: I made a comeback by scoring in the middle-order but I was forced to go one down. I only failed in that one match in Sydney and I was dropped again. Playing Australia in their den at their peak was difficult and I thought I did okay at a batting position that was not even mine. I was shocked when they ousted me. (Faisal’s last comeback in 2009 lasted for only 7 innings in alien conditions; 57, 6, 67, 15, 48, 27 and 7).

When the public sees you score in international cricket maybe the perception will change.

FI: People who follow cricket have seen me do well domestically, even in the T20 final recently. I was the mainstay of my team’s middle-order. It is all I can show, I cannot take my clothes off and show them. (Can only score where he plays)

It already seems very crowded in the Pakistani middle-order, do you see yourself getting a go in Zimbabwe?

FI: I always prepare myself 100% when I go for an assignment for Pakistan, my job is to keep myself fit and give my best shot. I can only do what is in my control. I cannot worry about what is not in my hands.

The selection committee’s job is to select the team; they cannot select the playing XI. They have been picking you for the last 10 years but you have very little game time to show for it. You cannot blame PCB for this.

FI: It is a question for people to analyze and answer, I never take any names that this one or that one did not play me for this reason. I can only say that I am in the team because I have runs (domestic) behind me to merit selection. It is the job of the journalist or the media; I will look like a fool if I start name dropping. (Silence says a thousand words)

In a tour like Zimbabwe, if Pakistan wins the first Test maybe the bench strength will be tested.

FI: Yaar (friend), the biggest question is, who will want to sit out? (laughs) Nobody will!

Pakistan plays such little Test cricket that everyone is as it is usually well rested.

FI: When there is a tough series, Faisal goes to bat at three. When there is an easy series, Faisal is the 12th man. It has always been this way. (Played 5 Test matches at home and 21 abroad, averages 43.50 at home)

How long have you been on a central contract?

FI: I was off it from 2010 to 2012 but earned it back by scoring heavily in the domestic. I have not been given the chance to use my good form at international cricket even though I have been a part of the squad. (In 2012/2013 season, he has averaged 60 in Presidents cup, 82.33 in Faysal Bank ODI cup and 42.6 in Presidents Trophy)

If PCB pays you then shouldn’t it also play you? Why are you on Pakistan’s payroll if you are not being utilized?

FI: I keep waiting for my chance. There are other contracted players also who are not getting a chance; Abdul Rehman is a good example. You have to understand that only XI can play and no one wants to sit out for even one game (If you pay them, play them)

You think it is because of insecurity?

FI: Yes, insecure of their place in the team and also financially insecurity. You lose money when you don’t play and it is important for everyone to get maximum financial benefit. (Cut throat competition)

You are now almost 32; have you set yourself any targets?

FI: My target is to play for Pakistan in all three formats; the reason is that I am performing in all three formats in domestic cricket. I would love to serve Pakistan rather than play league cricket and waste my energy.

I hope you do well in Zimbabwe if you get the chance to play, good luck.

FI: Insha’Allah (If God will’s it)

Faisal has played 26 Test matches with ‘EIGHT’ staggering comebacks, usually in unconducive conditions. He has been shuffled in the batting order every time he plays. It has been a recipe for failure.

With a batting average of 26.76, he should never have played 26 Tests or been in national contention for so long. But with the way he has been handled, it would have taken extra ordinary brilliance from Faisal to better his average. Unfortunately, only glimpses of such excellence can be seen in his career.

Whether Faisal benefited from the politically plagued system or has been victimized by it will always be argued upon. There might be some truth on both sides of the coin, like there usually is.

However, one thing is established for certain. The rotten system robs the country in more ways than one.
Faisal was definitely more talented than his numbers reflect. When a youngster is given a chance, an environment should be created for him to flourish in. Instead, far too often in Pakistan it is designed for him to perish under. In addition, Faisal might have been given far too many opportunities to make comebacks, at the cost of a younger talent missing out. In the process, Faisal, his possible replacement and the national cricket team, all have been deprived of realising their true potential.

Mismanagement of talent has ruined many batsmen in the recent past, Mohammad Wasim, Hasan Raza, Asim Kamal and Fawad Alam could possibly have served Pakistan a lot more than they were allowed to.

When a cricket board backs a player, it has to put its faith in him and let him give his best shot. When it drops one, it should look elsewhere to find a replacement rather than exercise the same options year after year.

In the words of Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

More chances are that the trend of Faisal’s career will continue on the same path and he will warm the bench with little space for him in the Pakistani middle-order, barring injury to the others.

At this stage of Faisal’s career, the mantra should be pretty simple; use his experience and current form and play him. Or, select someone who is the future of Pakistan cricket and give him exposure. Faisal has been a leisure tourist on PCB’s tab for way too long and he could live without another African Safari.

Tragically, after eighteen years from when I saw Faisal for the first time at late Ahmed Mustafa’s coaching clinic, he still lives in the large shadow of his uncle Javed Miandad. While some think it is his blessing, according to Faisal’s own assessment, it has been his biggest curse. Either way, it has been a case of human resource mismanagement by the authorities that run cricket in Pakistan.


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Comments (41) Closed


Ray
Sep 02, 2013 03:12pm

Another victim of Inzamam's cricket brains! This list includes, Asim Kamal, Yasir Hameed, Muhammad Waseem, and on and on and on.

Saad
Sep 02, 2013 03:38pm

Sarfaraz is going to be the next victim in this list.

imtiaz Hydari
Sep 02, 2013 03:56pm

It is always someone else to blame! if Faisal was or is such a great talent then he would have performed under the so called "un-conducive conditions" meaning be judged by his record under difficult or tough conditions. Now who would you have Faisal replace at this time? Misbah, Younis, Azhar or Asad Shafiq? leave out Haris, Amin, Shoaib Maqsood and other youngsters knocking for recognition. I do not know if he really gets a raw deal because of Javed Miandad connection but i honestly do not see a position for him in the test side unless Misbah and Younis say good bye.

Ahmad Farooq
Sep 02, 2013 04:03pm

A typical Loser - blaming everything except his own failures in performances.

Syed
Sep 02, 2013 06:57pm

A person who has achieved nothing can only fail. SO what's the fuzz all about? Being Miandats implacement to represent his "blood" on international platform or for being Karachian and not being given a place when there was nothing (statistically) to prove otherwise. Let's be honest without the 90% this guy would not even be 3rd or 12th man. Thank you for your crying Faisal. Please change your field of work. How about Hockey? We desperately need some hockey players. Thank you!

Anon
Sep 02, 2013 07:28pm

@ Faisal Iqbal People wanted you to fail, like they always do, but the difference between the other emerging players and you is while others proved people wrong and you could not. As much as I believe in the provincial bias, you have to accede to the fact that averaging at a paltry 27/Test Match and 22/ODI just goes on to show that you weren't ready to take on the international challenge yet and that may be should have payed your dues well enough!

AJ
Sep 02, 2013 09:36pm

Nothing but lame excuses. I am from Karachi too and can say that when there were quality player coming from Karachi, all of them played as first choices. Fact is, Karachi hasn't produced a single international quality batsman in 2

AJ
Sep 02, 2013 09:37pm

Lucky that he got 50 international matches just because of Miandad. He did play some full series too and also against weaker sides. What did he want? to let him in on regular basis may be? yes yes with an average of 20 he should have been regular instead of Yousef Youhana, Younis or Inzimam. Lot of laughs..... throw him out for God sake, some bowlers are better bats than him.

Iftikhar khan
Sep 02, 2013 09:43pm

What a sad storey ,once again a real talent is destroyed by provincial politics , I feel very sorry to say this,after reading so much about the career of great cricketers like Hanif brothers, Haseeb Ehsan, Jawaid Mian Dad and list goes on , they were all victimised because these players were from Karachi. We should change the name of PCB from PAKISTAN CRICKET BOARD TO" PUNJAB CRICKET BOARD "LIKE PIA ,PUNJAB INTERNATIONAL AIR LINE.I do not want to write this but after reading an interview of Faisal Iqbal I am hurt so deeply that I could not resist my self.

Amir Cheema
Sep 02, 2013 10:17pm

26 test matches with an average of 26.7 and 18 ODI with an average of 22.4. Still he feels that he has not had enough chances and he has been served injustice. I wonder who else has gotton so many chances. Shoaib Malik and Imran Frahat being the exceptions for the obvious reasons everybody knows. Shahid Afridi has test average of 36.5 in 27 matches and he quit test cricket. I believe the selectors have not done a decent job in keeping him in the team for the last few series but I think new players should have been given a chance rather than persisting with Faisal Iqbal.

Jaan
Sep 02, 2013 10:36pm

@Ray: Inzi was a legendary batsman but the dumbest captain. Inzi mishandled Akhter and never used his potential and his golden years.

Shiraz
Sep 02, 2013 10:37pm

Great Article, all the best Faisal and i hope u can prove all your critics wrong.

amir
Sep 02, 2013 10:46pm

@Ray: He is a middle order batsmen and so was asim kamal and pakistan had the strongest middle order at the time, he did not deserve a spot ahead of yousuf youhana(mohd yousuf) younis khan, inzimam. No middle order batsmen could crack a spot and a classic example is misbah ul haq who only got in after that lot left the team!

Pakistani
Sep 03, 2013 01:31am

@Ray: How did Inzamam do it ???? look at their record all them have limitte talent and their record shows that ....so stop this mindless blames or put some number here

Arshad
Sep 03, 2013 02:56am

@Ray: B.S. He averaged 26.76 with one hundred in 26 games, He doesn't deserve to be in the test team. Yasir Hameed 32.42 in 25 matches with 2 hundreds (both against Bangladesh), Mohammad Wasim 30.11 from 25. All three hardly test match material. Its easy to blame the 'other' province but make sure you have done your research.

Imran
Sep 03, 2013 05:13am

Naach na janay aangan tehra!!! averaging around 40 in domestic cricket does not make him great batsman. For the likes of Virat Kohli who has averaged around 40 in ODI's against world class bowlers in all playing conditions. Is FI a better batsman than Mansoor Akhter or Shaifq papa?? the answer is a big no!

There have been politics in cricket but in Faisal Iqbal's case his performance is to be blamed solely.

Mr. Haq
Sep 03, 2013 07:23am

Faisal, I am from Karachi. I am not talking about ethnic bias when I say you don't deserve to be an international player. "If they wanted you to fail", you got 26 test matches and 44 innings to prove them wrong. Your average is under 29 runs for a middle order test batsmen and your scored 1 century in 44 innings. You decide, if you were the selector and with the talent pool in Pakistan, do you really think you would have gotten another chance if you were "not" Miandad's nephew? I think you're lucky to be included again and again and now you are on the wrong side of age 30 and back in the test team only because you are related to Miandad. This is my opinion and I am from Karachi.

kamran
Sep 03, 2013 07:56am

Faisal Iqbal shutup you played 26test matches and your average is only 26. and you played 18 ODI matches and your avg is 22. what else you want from selectors.

Mohsin
Sep 03, 2013 10:31am

@Ahmad Farooq Itis true.can you justify akmal brotheraan selection in the team?

Mohsin mahmood
Sep 03, 2013 10:30am

This article is 100% correct.can anyone justify akmal bratoraans selection in the team?

Khan
Sep 03, 2013 10:55am

Provincial bias against Karachi is a fact same as Punjabi Taliban, the sooner we accept it the better. Each and every institution of Pakistan has been destroyed due to bias hiring instead of merit.

Sayyar
Sep 03, 2013 11:18am

faisal
Sep 03, 2013 12:12pm

go get a lahore's nationality faisal. may be, your 20s (avg) prove to be better than akmal's 20s.

faisal
Sep 03, 2013 12:11pm

@Ray: Misbah was also part of that list sometime back. look, when he started to get some change in the 11, only after inzi retired.

ali
Sep 03, 2013 01:00pm

thanks

Ali Khan
Sep 03, 2013 01:30pm

If this batsmen was scoring 50 and 100 and 150 on every outing then he would as revered as Misbah-ul-Haq.The fact is that he has played a memorable inning?But then again Batsmen in Pak team are not their for merit or their reputation,I mean look at Umer Akmal,nothing to show for in the 4 years that he has been playing and yet he continues to play.really?

Ali Khan
Sep 03, 2013 01:33pm

@faisal: True, i dont understand why Umer Akmal is playing cricket after 4 years of successive failures.

Ali Khan
Sep 03, 2013 01:37pm

@Khan: There is corruption in Pakistan but then there is also NEPOTISM.The reason everyone is upset about this man is because he Miandad's nephew.

Akram
Sep 03, 2013 01:36pm

I have always been a Miandad fan, undoubtedly the best batsmen by miles Pakistan ever produced. However Faisal Iqbal is showing a bad Pakistani trait, blame everyone else for his failures. If there was a conspiracy to destroy him he would have not spent years on the sidelines of the national side whilst others never got a look in.

Its quite clear he is simply not good enough for the top level. Forget who his uncle is. Better to give more deserving guys who have never had a chance to have a chance. There is no shortage of batsmen in Pakistan, the shortage is in the disorganized selection set up.

Ali Khan
Sep 03, 2013 01:38pm

@Mr. Haq: Very true, there are certain cricketers who are picked again and again despite failing again and again,like Umer and Kamran AKmal,Imran Farhat,Taufeeq Umer,Imran Nazeer and one should say even Afridi is living a charmed life. Stop NEPOTISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ali Khan
Sep 03, 2013 01:41pm

Stop blaming and start scoring 100s and no one will ever be able throw you out of the team.

Ali Khan
Sep 03, 2013 01:43pm

@Jaan: Not that Akhter had other plans too.All he wanted was fun,fun,and some more fun,not a hint of professionalism about him or sacrificing for the country.

a
Sep 03, 2013 07:27pm

This guy may be right that other people claim that his selection is based on him being Miandad's nephew. BUT THEN, he can silence them all by actually scoring and performing at the international level whenever he got a chance. I don't remember ANY of his innings for Pakistan in which he actually 'scored'.

Atif
Sep 03, 2013 08:37pm

Wow what a joke! Faisal Iqbal record is very poor. Played 26test matches, average is only 26. and played 18 ODI matches, avg is 22. You should be thankful for still getting selected. And please stop dividing the nation. All his answers are so bias and factless

khan
Sep 03, 2013 10:05pm

"With a decent young crop of middle-order batsmen recently unearthed in Pakistan" Like who?

Amjad
Sep 04, 2013 12:48am

Dear Faisal Have you thought about taking up hockey instead of cricket ? clearly you are not cut out for cricket and in fact would not get into any other cricketing nationS batting line up that includes KENYA.. your record proves this!!

Its a great shame that you have taken someone elses place who deserves to play simply because Miandad is Uncle. Please do everyone a favour and say goodbye

conspirashidulrehman
Sep 04, 2013 02:16am

Sai to Sai , sai ka ''bhanja'' bhi sai.

AK
Sep 04, 2013 08:24am

@Atif: Really how about Hafeez, Younus, I am sure he can bat better than these two jokers If given same number of chances everybody else got.

shuaib
Sep 04, 2013 10:18am

The caption should have been: "They always wanted me to fail and I failed each and every time, miserably"

Mr. Haq
Sep 04, 2013 12:11pm

@a: I remember only 1 innings which he scored 100. That's 1 out of 44 innings. Quite a pathetic record, if you ask me, for an international middle order batsmen.

Sarah
Sep 05, 2013 02:09am

@Mohsin: Here is the justification for Akmal brothers: UMAR AKMAL: Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St Tests 16 30 2 1003 129 35.82 1520 65.98 1 6 117 17 12 0 ODIs
76 67 11 2176 102* 38.85 2538 85.73 1 17 179 35 39 4

Kamran Akmal: Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St Tests
53 92 6 2648 158* 30.79 4196 63.10 6 12 372 14 184 22 ODIs
154 135 14 3168 124 26.18 3779 83.83 5 10 371 34 156 31

So do you still think they don't justify selection.Jump in the well if you don't understand these numbers and records.