DateLine: 9th June 2010
Faisal Iqbal has represented Pakistan on 44 occasions without ever cementing his place in the Pakistan middle order. A test batting average of 26.16 and a one day batting average of 22.42 is his record so far.
PakPassion caught up with Faisal shortly before he went for Umrah, and this is what he had to say :-
PakPassion.Net: How many of years of first class experience do you think a player should have before coming on to the international scene?
Faisal Iqbal: A player must have at least five years of experience, plenty of runs and good performances, speaking from an overall experience of playing domestic and international cricket, I feel that I am now mature enough in my batting at the age of 27-28. A batsman needs to play at least five years to show maturity in his batting and and usually takes 6 or 7 years to each the level of maturity. It all depends when one starts playing cricket.
PakPassion.Net: Who has been your favorite player?
Faisal Iqbal: My uncle (Javed Miandad) has always been my favorite player and other then him itís Steve Waugh.
PakPassion.Net: How much role has Javed Miandad played in your cricketing career?
Faisal Iqbal: He has always helped me polish up my skills. He started helping me after 1996 after I came through the junior platform. He has helped me tremendously. I received a lot of support when he was coach of the national team. I also had the chance to get advice from various legends such as Viv Richards. I met lot of these players over the years and received valuable advice many times related to my batting. My uncleís main role has been to polish up my talent.
PakPassion.Net: Who other than Javed Miandad has influenced your cricket?
Faisal Iqbal: The biggest credit goes to Mr. Ahmed Mustafa whose cricket academy I had joined since the age of 4 in Karachi. He started the academy free of cost on an individual basis. Dr Muhammad Ali Shah also played a big influence in my career and he also used to provide us with cricket balls. They have played an important role in developing me as a character; itís one of those things that stay with a cricketer forever.
PakPassion.Net: Has there been extra pressure on you being the nephew of Javed Miandad?
Faisal Iqbal: Ever since I started playing cricket I had realized that playing cricket in Pakistan will not be an easy job given the set up and system of the country where personalism thrives. I have experienced the criteria of liking and disliking over the past 12-14 years due to which I have faced very difficult times and it is the reality of our system. In any case, I have always had support of my uncle as a batting and cricket coach and his advisors are always with me.
There is a question for the public: If a top player of Pakistan was not allowed to complete his 10, 000 runs and went through various ups and downs throughout the career, how was his nephew expected to play with ease in current Pakistani system? I have realized how difficult my 14 year career has been but I greatly thank Allah, I always asked Him for support and it was He who gave me the strength to face the difficulties. Looking back I still donít believe how I was able to withstand the difficulties I have faced in the past. It only motivated me to become an even better and highly skilled cricket player. I used to always instill self confidence in me. Since I didnít get the required support from any quarter and I have played my cricket only due to my own self belief. You can realize why my international career has been so short in the past 10 years. At my age, players have played more than 50 tests and 200 ODIs. I have only played 26 tests and 18 ODIs in 10 in such a long career and am nowhere near the 20-20 debut.
PakPassion.Net: You have played 26 test matches and your average is only 26 despite the fact you posses great talent. What do you think is the reason the low average given the fact you were given the chance in 4 tests in England in 2006 and recently in Australia as well.
Faisal Iqbal: The answer is very simple if you look at the number of times I have batted in various positions and when. Secondly, at the international level the batsman does not know whether or not he is going play the next match or if he is going to play despite giving a strong performance in the previous match because he only comes in as a replacement. The players come back I have to again sit on the bench for 6-9 months.
In the Indian tour of 2007 I had scored a 50 in the last test match and there was no test cricket in 2008 and only ODIs. During that time I was never called up as part a 30 player camp. All of these things point to the fact that what difficult times I have faced. You will see in how many years I have played my last 5 test matches and you will find back to back 50s in each of those matches except the last two in Australia one of which I also scored 48. I also scored 50s in New Zealand. My point is that you will see a big gap in the matches that I have played and the fact that I was never a regular but only a replacement and never played at a fixed position. If a world class batsman went through the same situation, I think even he would find it difficult to perform but I am thankful that I was till able to score 50s.
PakPassion.Net: You have got out many times after you were set at the crease. For example in New Zealand you scored 18, 22, 27.
Faisal Iqbal: I have never been a number 3 batsman. If you look at my career, you will see that I have batted number 3 when someone was not available or when someone did not want to bat at 3. No one wanted to bat at number 3 in New Zealand or Australia. There are player who are regulars that donít want to bat at 3 and then there is a player who only plays a test match after 9 months and still manages to score 40 or 60 runs, it is a big achievement. It is wrong to expect a 100 from such a batsman.
PakPassion.Net: Donít you think that once a player has scored 40 or 60, he should go on to score big runs?
Faisal Iqbal: I had only just come into the team and I was only being tried at the number 3 position. I should be appreciated for the fact that I chose to bat at number 3 when no one else wanted to do it. I took a big gamble on my career by choosing to bat at number 3. If I had scored ducks in New Zealand and Australia then I would have been dropped and probably no one would ask about me again.
Muhammad Yousaf had appreciated me on TV by saying that many say of serving their country but it Faisal who chose to stand up and serve the team by taking a gamble with his career. Such players should be very much appreciated who forget about their career just to serve the team.
PakPassion.Net: We had recently interviewed Younis Khan in the US and he told us that Woolmer had offered him the number 3 position and told him that it will make or break his career.
Faisal Iqbal: This is what I meant before as well that a player should have a discussion regarding this position and boosted with confidence and support. We need guys who are true to their words. Are we to strengthen the talent of our players or waste them for life? If you remember, in Sydney I got out on 28 and 7 but I had also taken all 4 slip catches.
The criteria of selection should be the same for everyone. There should be no aspect of revenge against anyone just because they are a nephew of someone.
PakPassion.Net: You have spent a lot of time playing alongside with Younis and Yousaf. To what extent did they help you?
Faisal Iqbal: Of course. I always tried to consult them as much as possible whenever I needed some advice. As for my career, it is correct to say that I am a self made cricketer and I have always batted in different matches sometimes even in the same match. For instance, in the Bangalore test of 2007, I came in at number 4 in the first innings and at number 6 in the second innings. I scored a quick 50 in very difficult conditions.
PakPassion.Net: Would it be correct to say that you are more comfortable against spin bowling than fast bowling?
Faisal Iqbal: No, I can play all kinds of bowlers with ease. However, generally the players from Karachi are better players of spin bowling due to a big number of spin wickets.
PakPassion.Net: Is there any player in domestic cricket that you feel was very talented but did not the get the chance to pay in the national team?
Faisal Iqbal: The answer is easily me as I have been in and out of the team over the years.Our system needs to be improved and become more transparent in the future. When a player will get rewarded for his good performances, it will increase the confidence in other players as well.
PakPassion.Net: You recently took part in the Pentangular tournament and the domestic T20. Which new and young players do you think can make it to the national team in the future?
Faisal Iqbal: I canít mention any specific names. There are many players who are performing regularly, are seen on TV and I am sure they will make it to the national team in the future. I have full confidence in the new selection committee and I am also hopeful that I will get many chances again based on my merit irrespective of my past. I believe I can perform very well and I have shown my experience and talent on certain occasions.
PakPassion.Net: Have you considered playing in England or Australia such as league or country cricket?
Faisal Iqbal: I have the desire to play county cricket and I am confident I will get the chance soon. I played in Bangladesh and Sharjah ad it gave me a lot of confidence. It is my wish to play in more international leagues. I also got an offer to play in Australia but unfortunately I was not permitted to go. I have performed wherever I have played.
PakPassion.Net: Sindh performed very well in the Pentangular Cup. What was the secret to success and what role did Tariq Muhammad play?
Faisal Iqbal: Sadiq Muhammad shared his whole experience with us and we devised our strategies from match to match and we responded well to various match situations in bowling and batting, which allowed us to win the matches. Everyone was given their roles in the team according to their positions and I played my part as the captain of the team. I hope my performances will be considered in the future.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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