Islamabad - It was about a year ago on 18th June when Pakistan defeated India in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 at the Mecca of Cricket, Lords, against all odds. Nobody was giving Pakistan the slightest chance of victory when the team arrived in England. On the match’s 1st anniversary, there were hardly any news reports and articles to glorify Pakistan’s, arguably, best ever victory!

The winning captain, Sarfraz Ahmed , was a child when Pakistan won the 1992 World Cup. Rising from a humble background in Karachi, he has already achieved in a couple of years what many legendary cricketers couldn’t in long careers spanning decades.

Sarfraz made headlines after winning ICC under 19 World Cup in 2006 where he led Pakistan to defeat India in a low scoring thriller. He continued impressing with top performances in the domestic circuit and got his Pakistan debut in 2007 tour of India. It took him long to cement his place as a regular in the team. Asia Cup Final at Dhaka versus Bangladesh in 2012 established his credentials as a big match player where he top scored with 46 not out. Pakistan managed to win the watch by a margin of just 2 runs. Critics doubted that his playing style might be suitable for test cricket, but he proved them all wrong.

Sarfraz was instrumental in Pakistan’s rise to number 1 position in test cricket with incredible performances.On the final day of a test match in Sharjah against Sri Lanka, he scored a quick fire 48 off 46 balls to set up the chase of 302 runs in 57overs. He actually changed the way the Pakistan team approached the game.

The 2015 World Cup in Australia/ New Zealand brought him to the headlines again. There were reports that the coach, Waqar Younis, didn’t want him in the team. Pakistan lost its earlier matches and it seemed they would get eliminated in the 1st round. Sarfraz was finally given a chance to play in Pakistan’s all important 7th game against the strong South African team. Sarfraz took a record 6 catches and scored a run a ball 49 as opener to be Man of the Match. In the next match against Ireland, he scored an unbeaten century in a chase to win another Man of the Match. That’s when the cricket experts predicting that he is next big thing from Pakistan.

After Misbah and Afridi hung up their boots, the captaincy in all formats eventually went to Sarfraz. This burden brought the best out of him. Pakistan’s limited overs performances were not something to be proud of before he took over. His passion lifted the young team and in no time, Pakistan achieved number 1 position in T20 World Cricket after consistent wins.

Sarfraz won the 1st test match he captained in England so convincingly with an inexperienced team.These are not small feats. And, yet he is not being given the due respect and recognition which Sarfraz so deserves. Instead, calls of dropping him from the team or stripping him of wicket keeping gloves are being propagated in the press.

What’s the qualification to become a national icon in Pakistan? Graduation from Oxford University? Social gatherings where you mix with the ‘elite’? Or simply looks? Sarfraz is the boy next door from the Karachi streets. He didn’t have any influential uncles and aunties to help him get where he is today. He takes pride in speaking his mother language, Urdu. He is not fluent in English. So what? Many football stars also don’t speak English. Does it make a difference to their stature? No

Saifee is a family man, his wife is simple and he brings his child out in the ground when he achieves a major victory. He doesn’t have the signature flamboyancy which we usually relate with star cricketers from Pakistan. He reminds much of the great Javed Miandad’s tenacious character who would never give up and tease the opposition with his guile. Somehow Miandad was also deprived of the glory. 1992 World Cup success is attributed to one person only. What were the other 10 doing on the ground?

Anyways it’s been more than 25 years. We need new heroes. Nothing to take away from the team which won the 1992 world cup. The win remains a sweet memory but with time, you grow. India didn’t stop at 1983 World Cup glory and kept on praising onlyKapil Dev. They moved ahead.New heroes were made. MS Dhoni won them the 2011 World Cup and now they are investing in new heroes.

Sarfraz must be cherished; he is Pakistan’s very own product.

–The writer is a performing artist, motivational speaker and social activist. He could be followed at https://twitter.com/BasitSubhani