He doesn’t even have a picture on his ESPNcricinfo page – that’s how unknown he is. That’s like having a Wikipedia page full of ‘citation needed’, or a pictureless IMDB page. All the same, the leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed has swiftly become Australia’s new Golden Boy and the frantic scrambling to get him a passport so that he can play for Australia is almost cinematic in its ridiculousness. Fawad Ahmed: The Hunt for the Visa anyone?
After playing First Class cricket for Abbottabad in Pakistan, he moved to Australia in 2010 because of Pakistan’s internal instability. Furthermore, he was receiving death threats for apparently ‘promoting Western values’ due to his coaching of Women’s cricket. Applying for refugee status, he settled in Melbourne and started playing firstly for Hoppers Crossing then for Melbourne University in Victorian Premier Cricket. And despite the refusal of his refugee application, he was granted permanent residency in November of last year.
He made his proper Australian domestic debut in January 2013, in a Big Bash match bowling 4 overs for 34 runs and not taking a wicket. An inauspicious debut. Since then he has played 5 List A matches, with best figures of 3-47 against South Australia. His one First Class match yielded a better return though, as he took five of Queensland’s second innings wickets to finish with figures of 7/162.
Set the world alight he has not done, though he has received heaps of praise – Cameron White said that he’s the best leg-spinner he’s seen aside from Warne and MacGill.
If he is to qualify for the Ashes, it will be the culmination of an incredible journey. He has stated that although he is proudly Pakistani, playing in the Ashes would be a dream come true. There are hardly Australian spinners with as big a reputation as Ahmed on the circuit right now, so more power to him. Australia will simply be ruing the fact that he was not eligible for the Test series against India, where they are paying for their lack of depth in their spin department. Currently with Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell as their two spinners, the increasingly awesome Cheteshwar Pujara punished them to reach a brilliant 204 whilst Murali Vijay helped himself to 167. The partnership was with 370. Not surprisingly, of the 19 wickets to have fallen this Test match, 13 have been taken by spinners. Australia failed to load their team with half decent spinners and now they are paying for it.
Will Ahmed get his Visa and be their saviour?