Born in the small village of Katlang near Mardan, Zaman would often daydream of becoming Pakistan`s Adam Gilchrist. He was a dashing left-handed batsman too, like his ideal, Zaman would dream of opening the innings and hit the ball out of the park. But before he could pursue his dreams, family compulsions came calling.
He was just 17 years old when the fate thrust him into the responsibility of becoming a breadwinner. It was 2007 and his family were in dire financial crisis. An able-bodied young man, Fakhar was forced to take an induction test to join the Pakistan Navy as a sailor. Although he passed the test and bagged a decent-paying job, young Fakhar wasn`t too happy. “I didn`t want to do what I was doing,” he narrates, writes Dawn’s, Arslan Sheikh.
He did the hard training in the Navy for one year, waking up before dawn, going on miles-long runs, then going to school and later playing a sport in the evening.
At PNS Karsaz, Fakhar ran into Nazim Khan, coach of the Pakistan Naval Cricket Academy. Fakhar expressed his desire to play cricket and Nazim welcomed him to the fold.
Fakhar didn`t take long to impress Azam either as he scored a half-century in the first interdistrict U-19 game played at the Asghar Ali Shah Stadium His knock included four sixes.
Nazim Khan was convinced that Fakhar’s future lay in sports rather than in service. He lodged an application to release Fakhar as a sailor but to re-induct him into the Navy as a professional sportsman. Fakhar`s family were apprehensive but Nazim swayed their opinion. The application was approved and Fakhar joined the Navy as a professional sportsman in 2008. A special clause was inserted into his contract: he could be rehired as a sailor if he failed to make the grade in cricket. Fakhar went on to represent Karachi U-19 and Karachi U-23 before making it to the first class level.
“But financial insecurities at home and some failures on the field often made Fakhar doubt himself. Was it worth it? Was he chasing a pipe-dream? What if he failed? What if he couldn’t make a living out of cricket? It was during those difficult times that his mentor Azam Khan cajoled him, motivated him and kept pushing him something that Fakhar remains eternally grateful for,” Arslan Sheikh writes.
“There have been a number of times when I thought of quitting cricket.”
“One of them came when I was playing a senior district tournament and could only score 25 runs in the first three games,” he recalls. “Azam Bhai told me, ‘whether you score a duck or a century, I won`t drop you.’ I scored three consecutive 150 in the next three outings and topped the Karachi district for runs scored. It was the last time I thought of leaving cricket.
Despite the support of Azam Khan, Fakhar soon became impatient about playing first-class cricket. He tried to find an easier way to advance in the domestic circuit a mistake that landed him back in Mardan.
Fakhar’s Pakistan Cup performance even drew praise from his Navy trainer and coach. Nazim had wanted to mould Fakhar into a silky smooth timer of the ball à la Saeed Anwar but ran out of time as Fakhar left the Navy. But his former coach was pleasantly surprised at the poise with which Fakhar constructed his innings in the Pakistan Cup final.
Source: Dawn Sunday Magazine