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Cricket Australia drops Ahmed Ashes hint

Published Jun 18, 2013 05:02pm


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“He is a fine young man who has handled himself extremely well.” -Photo by AFP
“He is a fine young man who has handled himself extremely well.” -Photo by AFP

LONDON: John Inverarity, Australia's chairman of selectors, indicated Monday that Pakistan-born leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed could yet be called into the Ashes squad.

The chances of Ahmed, who took one for 25 in six overs on Monday in Australia A's 93-run win over Ireland in Belfast, featuring in the Ashes improved dramatically when a bill to amend the Citizenship Act, which will help fast-track his application, passed through Australia's lower house of parliament earlier this month.

Cricket Australia said that if the bill became law, and Ahmed obtains citizenship and an Australian passport, he will immediately be available for the national side.

Australia currently have only one specialist spinner in their Ashes squad in off-break bowler Nathan Lyon.

Ahmed played three Sheffield Shield games for Victoria late last season and took 16 wickets at 28.37, bringing him to the notice of Australian selectors.

The 31-year-old, who fled Pakistan claiming persecution, has also won plaudits from retired Australia leg-spin great Shane Warne.

“It is likely that his passport will be through in time for him to be considered for the squad,” Inverarity told BBC Radio's Test Match Special on Monday.

“Then he will be considered for selection.

“He is a very interesting story. He is a young man who felt he was being persecuted in Pakistan and sought refuge in Australia.

“He came and joined an ethnic community there, played some cricket at a southern district level, was noticed as a good leg-spinner, then he went down to state practice and its gone from there.”

Inverarity added: “He is a fine young man who has handled himself extremely well so it's a very interesting story, especially in the diversity context so we will just have to wait and see what happens. He is a very good leg-spin bowler.”

Australian cricket has faced accusations of insularity in the past but Inverarity said the prospect of Ahmed playing in the Ashes had been broadly welcomed by the country's cricket fans.

“I think the response (of the Australian public) has been overwhelmingly positive,” the 69-year-old insisted.

“The vast majority are very supportive of it.

“It's important for our Australian community that there is that sort of integration.

“He has got on well with the Victoria players, he has arrived with the Australia A and he has fitted in well. He is a lovely lad.”

Inverarity said Ahmed was likely to remain with Australia A for their next game against Gloucestershire on Friday and could even be called up for the full side's Ashes warm-up games against Somerset and Worcestershire.

However, he played down talk of Ahmed featuring in next month's first Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, the opening match of Australia's bid to regain the Ashes from England, saying this would subject him to “extraordinary” pressure.

“It's going to be very difficult for him,” Inverarity said.

“If we select him for the Test team and he plays, with his unusual circumstances, the pressure on him will be extraordinary.

“I think as a unit we need to protect him as much as we can from those distractions.”

Comments (3) Closed

Yusuf Jun 18, 2013 07:08pm

He got unfair treat due to religion....all the best young player for future

John Jun 19, 2013 05:31am

Another loss to Pakistan. After Kaneria, there is no leg spinner left. Since he is 31, he must have played cricket in Pakistan but obviously only Fast bowlers are sought after and he went unnoticed. Pakistan's fascination with fast bowling is evident by recent camp run by Wasim via PCB only focusing on bowlers who can bowl at 140 miles. Pakistan forgotten what happened to 150 miles per hour Rawalpindi Express who was dispatched to boundaries at 240 miles by Aussies, Indians, South Africans and the only countries made him famous were Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, yet Pace is everything for PCB. Sad really.

WOOLONGONG Jun 19, 2013 06:26am

Cheers for Fawad Ahmed, hope he blends it into Australian society as much as he has into Aussie cricket. Unlike Yousef Youhanna , who betrayed his faith to be included in the Pakistani Team, only to be dropped shortly after " conversion"... you can be yourself and play CRICKET... no religion involved. Anil Dalpat ( Hindu) was a Pakistani lad working for Pak Airlines, coached Australian kids ... but did not forsake his religion when the national side dropped him due to pressure from fanatics. Play cricket, not politics and religion! We will watch you! Hope you do not come out in a fit of rage like the 2 lads in UK.. who killed a British soldier. I rest my case