Fawad Ahmed gets Cricket Australia call up

Australian chief selector John Inverarity said Fawad Ahmed’s (above) citizenship would be fast-tracked © Getty Images

Sydney: Jun 6, 2013

Former Pakistan asylum-seeker Fawad Ahmed moved a step closer to playing in the Ashes against England after being rushed into the Australia A squad for their tour of Britain Thursday.

“Fawad is a spin bowler of interest and we look forward to seeing how he performs for Australia A,” chief selector John Inverarity said, expressing confidence his citizenship would be fast-tracked.

A bill to amend the Citizenship Act, which will help fast-track his citizenship, passed through Australia’s lower house of parliament on Wednesday.

While the legislation still needs to go through the upper house, Cricket Australia said it appeared there was enough support for it to become law.

Currently, according to the International Cricket Council’s Player Eligibility Criteria, Ahmed will only become eligible for national selection on August 18.

But CA said should the bill become law, and Ahmed obtains Australian citizenship and an Australian passport before that date, he will immediately be eligible for national selection.

The International Cricket Council‘s Player Eligibility Criteria does not apply to being picked for A teams, so Ahmed is able to join the Australia A’s current tour, CA said.

Ahmed, 31, will leave for Britain this weekend and be available for the Australia A tour matches against Ireland (14-17 June) and Gloucestershire (21-23 June).

“I am very happy. It is a great opportunity for me to prove myself for Australia A in overseas conditions. I am grateful to Cricket Australia and the national selection panel for this chance, and I will do my best to repay their faith in me,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed was handed a permanent visa to remain in Australia in November after leaving his home in the border region near Afghanistan, where he said he was targeted by Muslim extremists.

He 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.