Australian chance: Asylum seeker could play in the Ashes

Fawad Ahmed has been hailed as the best leg-spinner to play first-class cricket in Australia since Shane Warne.  He has played only 11 games, but his recent performances have caught the eye of Australian selectors.

Ahmed, an asylum seeker from Pakistan who arrived in 2010, was working in a warehouse when he gained his permanent residency on January 29, 2013.

He made his Sheffield Shield debut as a Victorian Bushranger and took an impressive 7-162. This latest sensation has caused a ripple in Australian cricketing circles. Immigration officials are considering fast tracking Ahmed’s citizenship, which would mean that Ahmed would be eligible to represent Australia immediately.

Ahmed grew up in Pakistan’s northern province of Khyber, Pakhtunkhwa, where he supporterd NGOs,  worked for women’s rights, and played and coached cricket. Asked whether he misses Pakistan, he replies; “Definitely. Pakistan is my country. My heart and mind is always with Pakistan and I still feel sad when I hear the negative news coming out of Pakistan from the various news channels.”

His performance in over the past year has excited fans, selectors and cricketers alike.  While comparisons to Shane Warne are a bit early, South African spinner, Johan Botha and Victorian captain, Cameron White both regard him as the best leggie they’ve seen since Warne and McGill.

“I’ve met Shane Warne a couple of times and I bowled with him in the nets at the MCG at the beginning of last year’s training in the BBL. He appreciated me quite  a bit and he gave me plenty of advice. I didn’t think he would be so approachable and appreciative since he is a legend and such a big player, but it was not like that at all. When he saw me bowling, he was bowling in the same net as me and he gave me quite a few tips and a lot of advice which was a great gesture from him.” Ahmed said.

Originally Ahmed thought he was born in 1980, but he has found that he was  born in 1982, which would make him 31. The Australian team would pick Ahmed up as a mature aged player.  It’s not often the clock gets turned back!

Whatever his age, we wish Ahmed a super season, and reckon he will inspire a new generation of cricketers, and help shape how multicultural Australia plays and watches sport.