Sarfaraz Khan’s mountain of runs in domestic cricket has not resulted in India selection, but he is not giving up.
Sometime you fall, sometimes you get up, it’s better to keep walking than to remain motionless. Relying on others will not bring you there; you must walk alone to your goal.
Sarfaraz Khan opens the talk by describing his circumstances through shayari (Urdu poetry). Sarfaraz Khan, like a UPSC applicant who studies day and night to pass the exam, has scored a tonne of runs but has yet to pass his mains test, denying him selection to the national squad. His name was not on the roster for the upcoming home series against Australia. Instead, his close buddy Suryakumar Yadav was chosen ahead of him by the screening committee. Three years of rigorous hard effort have yet to be rewarded.
A buddy texted him a dramatic exchange, to which Sarfaraz Khan replied that they only look nice in movies, not in real life. Needless to say, he is disappointed, but he has not given up hope.
“Everywhere I go, I hear whispers that he will play for India soon. Thousands of messages concerning my expulsion have been sent to me on social media. tera moment aayega sab bolte hain (everyone says your time will come). I flew from Assam to Delhi the day after the selection and couldn’t sleep the entire night. I kept wondering why I wasn’t there. But now that I’ve spoken with my father, I’m back to normal. I will never stop practising, and I will not succumb to depression. “Don’t worry, I’ll try again”.
Sarfaraz Khan’s distress is understandable. In 22 innings since 2019, the Mumbai batsman has scored 2,289 runs at an average of 134.64, including nine hundreds, five fifties, two double hundreds, and a triple tonne. No surprise his pals nickname him ‘India ka Bradman’.
“I did get harmed somewhere,” he regularly adds. His coach father, Naushad, posted his son’s accomplishments on social media in the hopes that someone would notice. But he, too, was disheartened. Sarfaraz Khan senior travelled to Delhi, where Mumbai’s next Ranji Trophy game is due.
“I felt absolutely depressed. It’s normal for everyone, especially after scoring so many runs. I’m also a person, not a machine. I, too, have feelings. I called my father, and he flew to Delhi. I just had a practise session with him in Delhi. I’ve received texts and heard that I should have been there. My father walked in and told me that our duty is to score runs, and that one day I will play for India. So we must maintain that faith and let fate determine the rest,” Sarfaraz Khan says.
Based on his local results, Sarfaraz Khan has been hearing that he will be picked for the Test series against Bangladesh.
Chetan Sharma, the chief selector, met with him two weeks ago and told him that while all good things take time, time is of the importance in cricket.
Sarfaraz Khan is 26 years old. He says that he visualises his name in the Indian team before every selection meeting, but he was stunned the other day when his name was missing from the BCCI’s Twitter handle.
“I was disappointed not to see the name. But I don’t have control over it. I’ve done everything I could. Din ko din nahi samjha aur raat ko raat nahi samjha (I have been working day and night). I’m just practising day after day. When I was younger, we wondered if I would ever make the Mumbai Ranji squad. We’re now discussing when I’ll be able to join the Indian squad. So I’ve made progress.”
Naushad, a former club player who now coaches his sons Sarfaraz and Musheer, is continuously teaching his boys life lessons. He has given them several examples of athletes suffering from depression and being psychologically exhausted before taking the stage.
“I’ve had more downs than ups in my life, so I won’t hang on to this rejection for long,” Sarfaraz Khan adds.
Was his non-selection due to his performance in India A? Or was it his physical condition?
Such conjecture is dismissed by Sarfaraz Khan. Instead, he inquires as to what else he has do to be considered for an India call-up. In the Ranji Trophy, he bats for two days and fields for the following two. He also passed the yo-yo test. If India A performance was a selection factor, Prithvi Shaw was chosen for the India T20 team despite not playing any India A games. In the past, selectors have created room for outstanding players without taking into account their India A performances.
“Aisa nahi hai (it’s not like that), there are many players who haven’t played for India A squad and have found a spot on the Indian team. As a result, I feel that apna time aayega (my time will come). Why is it only the red ball? I’ve also done well in white-ball cricket. I was hospitalised during the Vijay Hazare Trophy, but I returned to score hundreds of points in two games. I even maintained wickets for Mumbai in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy. “Regardless of what anyone thinks, I believe I can play for India in white-ball matches as well,” Sarfaraz Khan concludes.