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Finding Neverland Blog Archive

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Dream of Pakistan's Cap (Part 11)

Ahmedis in Pakistan


But after the tournament, there was silence. Faisal is reluctant to go into further detail or assign blame for his not being picked. Perhaps, he says, it is because he is from Bahawalpur and not a major city like Karachi or Lahore. Haye and the others insist it is because Faisal is Ahmadi. He has not hidden his faith. His family are prominent members of the community in Bahawalpur, and many of his team-mates over the years have found out because he has had to bow out of praying with them.

"Some people do discriminate, but I don't feel it," Faisal says, demonstrating a sense of patience far beyond his years. "When there's a water break, if I drink water first, then I can tell that some people won't drink it then. So there are these small differences that keep cropping up. Anyway, you can guess what's going on. I try to drink water right at the end."

He is not sure whether anyone in the PCB is aware of his faith. When I asked Rasheed whether or not Faisal's faith had played a role in his non-selection, he said: "I can say for myself and for the selectors that we do not think of this. As national selectors we are not representing a particular place. Our thought process has to be 'national' for us to pick a national team."

One problem, as another selector, the former fast bowler Saleem Jaffar, pointed out is that Faisal is not yet part of a big-name department side. He signed on with State Bank of Pakistan (where his father works) just before the T20 Cup, but they are a Grade II side and not yet playing first-class cricket. "The quality is better than that of regional cricket, and the boys play with Test cricketers," Jaffar explained. "If a boy plays well in a region, a department will pick him right away, and that's where he's made."

Cricket is very much part of Faisal's family. As well as Rafay, his oldest brother, Muneeb, played and looked destined to do so professionally. "Our father had given him permission," Faisal says, pausing to sip his tea. But Muneeb's career was cut short, Faisal says, because it was difficult at the time for boys from small-town Bahawalpur to make it into a regional team. Muneeb now lives in Germany. Aqeel Anjum, an older cousin, has also forged an accomplished first-class career as a batsman.


Mubashir Ahmad, the father of the boys, is to be credited for encouraging the three to play cricket. "There are very few parents like ours, who give the kind of support our father has given us," Faisal says. "Parents tell their children to become doctors and engineers. But our father said, 'Fine, study, but if you want to play cricket, do it properly. Make a name for yourself.' People would ask him what his children did, and he'd say, 'They play cricket.'"

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