“I’ve bowled well and it’s paid off” ”“ Fawad Ahmed

 Fawad Ahmed


Fawad Ahmed an exceptional leg-spinner chosen to play for Australia in the coming  Ashes test with England  

By Kersi Meher-Homji

What an inspirational journey; an asylum seeker one day, an Australian leg-spinner a few years later!

There is hope for all of us; if you are talented, put in hard work and never say never, sky is the limit in Australia.

Fawad Ahmed was on the cusp of greatness and would have remained there but for his exceptional performance in the Sheffield Shield final recently. For Victoria against Western Australia he took 8 for 89 at Hobart on 21 March this year.

His figures were the best ever claimed in a Sheffield Shield final. Also his 8 for 89 are the best figures for a Sheffield Shield spinner in more than 20 years.

This led to his inclusion in the Australian squads for the upcoming two-Test series in the West Indies and subsequently for the all important Ashes in England.

A leg-spinner who played ten first-class matches in Pakistan, Fawad fled to Australia in 2010 as an asylum seeker. While living in Pakistan’s northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he was involved with an organisation that aimed, among other things, to educate women. He said that this led to threats against him from extremists.

Fawad Ahmed began playing for the Melbourne University club and worked in a warehouse while waiting for a verdict on his asylum claim. According to Brydon Coverdale of CricInfo, “Initially, it [his plea] was rejected, which left ministerial intervention as his only hope. Cricket Australia weighed in with support for Ahmed’s claim and he was granted permanent residency in late 2012.”

That summer he was a regular net bowler for Australia’s Test batsmen. He was soon signed by the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League and played three Sheffield Shield games late in the season for Victoria.

“A sharp turner of the ball who works from a short run-up”, writes Coverdale, “he collected 16 wickets at 28.37 and impressed observers all over the country. Stuart MacGill said Ahmed was biomechanically similar to Anil Kumble but imparted far greater spin.

“The retired batsman Damien Martyn faced Ahmed in the nets and declared him the best spinner in Australia since Shane Warne. But any thoughts of rushing Ahmed into the Test side had to be put on hold, for under ICC regulations he was not due to qualify for Australian selection until August 18, 2013, unless he was granted an Australian passport prior to that.”

His Australian citizenship was rushed through in 2013 to have him available for the Ashes but he was not chosen for that tour. He had to settle for debuts in ODI and Twenty20 international cricket. However, his leg-spin has puzzled batsmen all over Australia this summer and he topped the Shield tally with 48 victims at 24.85.

Born on 5 February 1982 in Marghuz, North-West Frontier Province he has represented Pakistan Customs, Abbottabad (Pakistan), Melbourne Renegades, Victoria, Australia A and Australia. He has represented Australia in three One Day Internationals and 11 Twenty20 matches without impressive figures. But in 36 first-class matches, mostly Sheffield Shield, he has shone out, capturing 125 wickets at an average of 29.56.

Fawad’s credentials this summer have been too strong to ignore.

“Forty-eight wickets is a pretty good season, and it wasn’t only the fact he got 48 wickets, it was the way he bowled,” national selector Rod Marsh commented. “He bowled beautifully all summer and him being a leg-spinner as opposed to a finger spinner probably also gave him a slight advantage because, believe it or not, Australia’s always looking for leg-spinners. We have a proud history of leg-spinning in this country, and we want that to continue.

“He doesn’t bowl too much rubbish, and he creates a lot of pressure. He’s able to have men around the bat in most instances and he keeps asking the batsmen questions. That’s what most good spinners do, you need to be able to remain on as a leg-spinners. It is all very well ripping the ball, but if you bowl two full tosses, two long hops, it’s very hard for the captain to keep you on. He maintains good economy and he asks many questions of both left and right-handed batsmen.”

Let us hear what Fawad has to say, “I changed my mind, I took the pressure off [myself] and I wasn’t looking to play for Australia so soon, rather playing more for Victoria and performing well at Shield level. That was the most important thing for me. And at that time it was a lot of things happening off the field, and this time things are happening off the field but on the cricket ground I’m performing well, so it’s a completely different thing and I’m looking forward to it.”

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