Karachi - Karachi-born Faisal Iqbal has said that the political interference has caused harm to his international career and has had a negative effect on his progress.

Faisal is a middle-order batsman and nephew of Pakistan’s legendary batsman Javed Miandad. He made his Test debut against New Zealand at Auckland in March 2001. He has played 26 Tests, scoring 1124 runs at an average of 26.76. His highest score of 139 came against India in Karachi. Faisal made his One-Day International (ODI) debut against Sri Lanka in Lahore in February 2000 and in 18 ODIs, he has managed 314 runs at an average of 22.42.

Despite a first-class average of 40.33, he has never really lived up to his potential and as a young player, was never able to displace the likes of Inzamam-ul-Haq, M Yousuf and Younus Khan. However many years later and at the age of 32, he still harbours ambitions to make yet another comeback into the national team.

Talking to PakPassion.net, Faisal said: “Let me start by saying that it’s a huge honour to be part of a sporting family. When you have inherited the game and its in your blood, it’s always an honour. Same was the case with me. My father was a professional hockey player. My uncle, Javed Miandad, was a legendary batsman for Pakistan. Similarly, representing Pakistan at the highest level, starting from the U15 World Cup till international cricket, has been an honour for me.”

“However, I must add that political interference has caused harm to my international career. This kind of interference is totally unexpected and has had a negative effect on my progress. As a player, all I wanted to do was to be part of the glory my family had achieved. My only desire was to make a name for myself like players have done in the past. Whereas it has been an honour for me to be part of such a family, this association has also been a great disadvantage for me when I stepped into the highly competitive world of professional cricket,” he added.

“A negative image of mine was portrayed by people who were against Javed Miandad since his playing days. For me, those people have always created problems for me. I felt the people who disliked Miandad for whatever reason, tried to use me as a means of getting back at one of Pakistan’s greatest batsmen. They dropped me, portrayed a negative image of me and labelled me as a player selected due to connections, rather than merit. This type of propaganda has always been in place against me. But, I want to change all that. I want my image as a Pakistan Test player and as a son of M Iqbal to be highlighted rather than any negative image,” he stated.

“My records depict my hard work and talent. I have proved my credentials whenever I could, in domestic cricket and in international cricket. Why not simply appreciate my performances and back me? Don’t credit Miandad for my inclusion and don’t blame him for my exclusion. This kind of negativity against my name should end now. My performance is for all to see and I should be allowed to play cricket for Pakistan on my own merit. These political hurdles should not be placed in my way. As someone who has played Test cricket for Pakistan, all I am asking for is respect and a fair chance to prove myself,” he added.

“Lastly, I would like to add that during Javed Miandad’s six year tenure as Director General of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), I was not selected for the national side even though I had played a lot of international cricket by that time. If he really wanted to put me in the side then I am sure, no one would have questioned his judgment,” he said.

To a query regarding no central contract for him this year as well, he said: “I was saddened and hurt by that decision. You can see my performance in domestic cricket where I didn’t miss any match last season. I proved my form and fitness there. I scored 1100 plus runs and was the second highest scorer in the ODI format. For four successive years, I have been very consistent and have been among the top performers. I am doing my job and have performed to the maximum. After all that it was heart-breaking not to be awarded a central contract. What more should I do to retain my central contract? I was really disappointed. If your domestic performance is not considered, then which performance will be considered for awarding these contracts? It’s very unfair and it’s almost a crime in my eyes.”

“My career has been threatened and a lot of people want to end it. It’s my mental and physical strength that I have been able to resist it. In the recently-concluded summer camp, I came up with a new and positive mindset. I am ready to perform again in domestic cricket and to earn my place in the side. But it seems that my performance has once again been put under the carpet, which has really wasted 2-3 years of my playing career,” he said.

To another query regarding standard of domestic cricket in Pakistan, he replied: “There is always room for improvement. The more it will improve, the better for the players. It still needs a vast improvement to meet the standards of domestic cricket abroad. The PCB has to lay a platform for the players, so that they can improve. It’s very important for domestic cricket to be strong as it helps to produce better players in international cricket.”

When asked did he think he could make a comeback to the Pakistan team, he said: “I’m still surprised that I will be making, yet, another comeback when comebacks are for those players who have been dropped for not performing. I am mentally strong and determined as ever. My performances in domestic cricket are because I want to regain my position in the national side. In the recently concluded games to help IDPs in Pakistan, I lead the Pakistan “A” team from the front with excellent captaincy, batting and fielding which was appreciated by all present. This is once again, proof of my suitability as player for the national team. I should be given a proper chance and I should not be played as a replacement player in future. I am a solid middle order batsman. I’m mature now and I have waited a lot for my turn.”