The inclusion of Faiz Fazal in the Zimbabwe tour must have surprised most cricket lovers. The 30-year-old Vidharba opener had been in cold storage for the last 13 years, without even playing the IPL or a single match for Team India at any level. While more illustrious compatriots were displaying their wares at the IPL, the soft spoken left handed opener Fazal was content playing for a non descript club called Hetton Lyons in the North East Premier League in Durham, UK. But then Faiz did his bat do the talking with some solid knocks in the premier tournaments of domestic cricket which earned him the India colours.
For someone who made his first class debut in 2003, and finally making it to Team India, it is evident that patience is the corner stone of Faiz’s character. “Frankly speaking it had never occurred to me that I would get the chance to play for Team India. But one thing is for sure. I had faith in my abilities and never lost the belief in myself,” Faiz said.
Faiz was candid to admit that he wasn’t expecting a Team India call. “Earlier, I used to expect a lot of things but past disappointments taught me to be a little indifferent. Playing for India was always my aim but it has been a tough journey. This is a fantastic opportunity but once again, it would be about remaining consistent at the top level,” he added.
It’s ironical that Faiz finally got his chance to represent Team India after 13 long years. When queried whether he had given up hope of representing the country, Faiz said, “I wanted to keep on playing and see what happens. Honestly speaking, I never thought of playing for Team India. All I wanted was to keep playing and enjoy the game myself.”
Faiz also said that he was so much used to disappointments in his life that he had even stopped thinking positive for sometime. “I remember one of the biggest disappointments in my life was when I was selected to play in the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh in 2004. But a couple of days before the tournament started, I suffered a freak injury and had to miss out the tournament. Till date that remains one of the biggest disappointments of my life as I felt that I could have impressed all with my batting,” he said.
But one thing Faiz did not lose was his self belief. “I told myself that no matter what happens I will continue to play the game and try to impress the selectors with my performances at the domestic level. I never felt demoralised or short of confidence and I proceeded to work harder on certain aspects of my batting. In fact I was waiting for that one career-defining knock,” he said.
That career defining knock was to come in the final of the Irani Cup as he helped Rest of India win against Ranji Trorphy champions Mumbai in February. He scored a superb knock of 127 and stole the limelight and had the national selectors looking at him closely. “I think that knock of 127 was the one knock which sort of announced my presence. I felt a sense of relief and achievement after hitting that ton,” said Faiz. Faiz went on to consolidate his position when he scored a century in the Deodhar Trophy final. “That ton gave me the confidence that I had it in me to bat well at the highest level,” he added..
When asked whom he credited for his inclusion into Team India, Faiz said it was his father Yakub. “My father Yakub has been a big motivator for me. He himself was a cricketer and was always there to encourage me and give me useful tips. It was he who taught me the virtues of patience and hard work. I owe a lot to him,” said Faiz.