Saturday Jun 17, 2017
The men were glued to the television screen at Faqir Gul’s house in the Katlang area of Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Soon it was clear. Pakistan’s victory over England was quickly becoming a reality. The crowd broke out in jubilation. After the cricket match was over, families in the neighbourhood emerged from their homes to distribut sweets. Mardan was celebrating the win. But more than that they were celebrating the performance of one of their own, Fakhar Zaman.
“He was once only the fakhar, the pride, of Katlang,” Faqir Gul, his father, told Geo.tv, “Now he is the fakhar of Pakistan.”
Back when Zaman was still a child his family discouraged him from playing cricket in school. They complained that he spent too much time out on the fields, and not much studying. There rarely was a day when he did not get into trouble for coming home late, covered in dirt.
In those days, Gul was working as an official with the wild life and animal protection agency in the province. On his days off he would write poetry and recite it to Zaman to get his mind off cricket. His father feared that if he did not abandon his love for the sport he would not be able to finish his education and get a proper job. But nothing, it seemed, could dissuade the young boy.
After completing his matriculation from the Government High Secondary School Mardan, Zaman joined the Pakistan Navy as a sailor in 2007. During his time with the Navy he would occasionally play inter-departmental cricket matches.
Azam Khan, the coach at the Navy’s cricket academy, noticed his talent. He then advised Zaman to apply for the position of a physical training instructor with the force, which he did.
In 2013, Zaman left the Navy. Thereafter he met Pakistan’s cricket star, Younis Khan, who advised him to play from his own region. Zaman, then moved back to Mardan, and represented Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Abbottabad Falcons and Balochistan in inter-region cricket tournaments. In 2016, he was selected to play in the second edition of the Pakistan Super League.
To this day, Zaman remains indebted to his coach Khan. He has even named his cricket academy in Mardan after his coach.
“I hope he will continue to excel,” says his father, “Especially in the final match against India.”