LAHORE: Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq has broken silence over the deluge of criticism that has followed Fawad Alam’s exclusion, yet again, from the Pakistan squad despite his consistently high batting average in domestic cricket.
Fawad, whose first-class average hovers at more than 55, has been overlooked for Tests by various selection committees and captains over the past eight years – a mystery that has left fans baffled and angrier with each passing season.
Despite being called up for the fitness camp for next month’s Ireland and England tours, Fawad was left out of the 16-member squad that named five uncapped players ahead of him.
“Fawad Alam is an outstanding player but in the last three years there are others at the top of the list,” Inzamam said in an interview to ESPNcricinfo. “We got him here in the nets but we found Saad Ali to be better, and the decision to prefer Saad was unanimous, with input from all the coaching staff and captain.
“Fawad is a good player and we obviously can’t ignore his career average; that is why he was brought into the camp. During my tenure, I have given 12 to 14 players an opportunity and none of them have disappointed us. If you look back in the past three seasons, there are players who have scored more runs than Fawad Alam.”
Pointing out that “dropping any player doesn’t mean we are disregarding them,” Inzamam said there are “many more things we take into consideration.”
“I am not sure why Fawad wasn’t picked in the past before me but if you ask me about my tenure as chief selector, I have seen better players.”
Fawad made his Test debut in 2009. In the only three Tests he has played, he scored 250 runs at an average of 41.66 with one century.
“I am not taking away anything from Fawad, as he has scored a lot of runs in domestic cricket at a great average. When there is a competition, some players get left out, but that doesn’t mean their career ends there,” Inzamam continued. “We haven’t ignored him, we have actually given an opportunity to a few others we thought were more suited to English conditions. Last season, we had tough bowling conditions in the QeA, and Saad Ali was a stand-out performer, and that is why he was preferred. I have spoken to Fawad on many occasions and given him the confidence to keep on working hard.
“I know people are very critical about his non-selection but we need to see things in perspective. People have expectations and they want to see their team win every game which brings a lot of responsibility on us. I have nothing against any player. We have a responsibility and what is important is we do not fail it. We must select players on merit. I am lucky that most of my picks so far are paying off well, and we now have a bigger pool of players.”
The chief selector also defended the selection of his nephew, Imam-ul-Haq, saying it was a group decision, not his.
“Picking Imam is a tough decision but this is one decision I didn’t take,” he said. “People might be cynical about this but the head coach [Mickey Arthur], batting coach [Grant Flower] and other selectors made the decision to select Imam. I am the part of the discussion group, but I didn’t say anything about it.
“The report given by trainers and coaches about him showed a significant improvement in his skill and fitness levels. He was already in the system even before my becoming selector, so associating me shouldn’t be a point of discussion.”