2020 ADT10 January 28, 2021 to February 06, 2021
A legspinner who played ten first-class matches in Pakistan, Fawad Ahmed fled to Australia in 2010 as an asylum seeker. While living in Pakistan’s northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Ahmed had been involved with an NGO that aimed, among other things, to educate women, and he said this connection led to threats against him from extremists. Ahmed began playing for the Melbourne University club and worked in a warehouse while waiting for a verdict on his asylum claim. Initially, it 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. A regular bowler in the nets to Australia’s Test players that summer, Ahmed was quickly signed by the Melbourne Renegades in the BBL 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, 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. All the same, Ahmed was already one of Australian cricket’s most notable feel-good stories, and having turned 31 in early 2013, there was still plenty of time for him to push for higher honours.
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