Tracing Sarfaraz Khan's controversial cricketing career

Jun 18, 2013, 00:27 IST | Harit N Joshi

Kurla teenager's progress to the India U-19 squad has been far from smooth with the youngster facing disciplinary action and overcoming a bout of depression

Sarfaraz Khan made it to the big league after getting a maiden call-up on Saturday to the India U-19 team for a triangular series in Australia. However, the immensely talented right-handed batsman’s meteoric rise hasn’t been a smooth one. 

Sarfaraz Khan
Sarfaraz Khan

At a tender age of 16, Sarfaraz has experienced it all — from overage allegations to being expelled from a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) camp. But the Kurla lad took everything in his stride, only to come out shining.

As much as his then record-breaking 439 in a Harris Shield inter-school match in 2009 that thrust him into the limelight, Sarfaraz has also been in the news for wrong reasons.

In 2011, a school team accused Sarfaraz of being overage. A bone test was conducted on him and the results did not match the date of birth registered with the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA).

According to the test, Sarfaraz’s age showed 15-years-and-eight months whereas, as per official records, he was 13-years-old at that time.

Not convinced with the bone test report, Sarfaraz’s father Naushad, who is also his coach, conducted another test. The results matched his original age, but the authorities rejected it. He then urged the MCA to conduct the test again. This time the results matched with his registered birth date.

Though he was immediately cleared of the overage issue, Sarfaraz had a tough time getting his focus back on cricket.  “It was a hell of a period for my son and everyone else in the family.

He had stopped practicing. His confidence was low. Everyone would make fun of him in cricketing circles. No one would talk to him,” Naushad recalled.

Sarfaraz had to seek a psychiatrist’s help to get over the episode, said his father. “He was slowly slipping into depression. He wouldn’t eat properly and would only cry. I was quite tense.

We consulted a psychiatrist, who helped him come out of it. It took nearly two to three months for him to enjoy his game again and build his confidence,” he said.

Sarfaraz steadily started to get over the ugly episode. He was amongst the three cricketers from the city selected for a month-long stint with Hull Cricket Club in the Yorkshire League in 2012. In the same year, he also made it to the prestigious Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack along with his younger brother Musheer.

Just when cricket was back in focus, Sarfaraz was booted out from a BCCI batting camp at the MCA indoor academy at Bandra Kurla Complex on
disciplinary grounds.

Naushad became philosophical when asked about the tough times. “Everything happens for the best. These setbacks made Sarfaraz more focused and determined to do well.

“They also made him serious about his game and more cautious in his approach. At a young age, he has gone through a lot. I just hope he makes the most out of every opportunity that comes his way,” the doting father concluded. 

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