Faiz Fazal: "The goal is still to play Test cricket"

Despite totalling 1001 and 942 first-class runs in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons respectively, Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal has found an India call-up hard to come by.

Faiz Fazal has won five domestic titles in the last two years -- two Ranji trophies, two Irani trophies and a Duleep Trophy, all as captain.   -  special arrangement

Faiz Fazal made his India debut much before his title-winning exploits as captain of the Vidarbha team. It was back in 2016 that he was picked for a limited-overs tour to Zimbabwe, on the back of an excellent domestic run during which the left-hander made 714 first-class runs at 44.62, including a match-winning 127 in Rest of India's chase of 480 in the Irani Cup.

In Zimbabwe, he did himself no harm by scoring an unbeaten half-century on debut. But he hasn’t played for India since. This despite winning five domestic titles in the last two years -- two Ranji trophies, two Irani trophies and a Duleep Trophy, all as captain -- and totalling 1001 and 942 first-class runs in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons respectively.

Scoring runs

“You definitely get disappointed if you don’t get picked,” Fazal said during the ongoing Duleep Trophy here. “I am disappointed that I couldn't play again. But the feeling is temporary. I am back again this season. I have worked really hard in the off-season and am raring to go.”

“Winning Ranji and Irani back to back was great. Such wins give you a sense of finality to all the hard work put in. But as an individual too I expected something and it didn’t work out. See, I can only score runs. The rest of the things are not in my hands.”

Even other Vidarbha players have found it tough to breakthrough. In recent times, not many apart from speedster Rajneesh Gurbani have made the cut even for India-A.

Making a mark

“As individuals, after winning, we all expect to play cricket at a higher level, like playing for India and India-A. But hopefully, with another good season, we can see more of them playing. We at Vidarbha aren’t big names. But we are making a mark and aspiring to play higher.”

Staying motivated though hasn’t been difficult, at least for him. “The game itself does that to me,” the 33-year-old stated. “My father, who is also my coach, has always told me to respect and enjoy the sport wherever I play.”

“That is why I go to England in the summer. I played in the Northeast Premier League (2016 during the India call) and this time I was in Northern Ireland. During summers, Nagpur gets very hot. But I cannot sit indoors and stay idle. Playing and winning matches away in England motivates me.”

It is this passion that’s driving him forward. “We want to win Ranji and Irani again. It will be tough but we are up for it. The ultimate goal for me is to play Tests. Never compromised on that. The aim is still there.”