Former refugee selected in Australian squad
Former refugee Fawad Ahmed will be hoping to make his Test cricket debut for Australia in the coming months after being named in the 17-man squad for the upcoming Ashes and West Indies tours.
Pakistan-born Ahmed sought asylum in Australia in 2010 after being persecuted by religious extremists for playing and coaching cricket in his home town in the strife torn north-west of Pakistan.
Ahmed was the Sheffield Shield competition’s leading wicket-taker last season, taking 48 wickets for Victoria at an average of 24.85. He produced a star performance in the final, claiming figures of 8 for 89 against Western Australia.
The 33-year-old was granted Australian citizenship in 2013 and has since played three one day internationals for Australia.
“It’s been an amazing 2015 for me,” said Ahmed in Melbourne.
“I’ve bowled with a big heart and a big chest in every situation.”
“Fawad has worked incredibly hard on his game and has demonstrated throughout the season that he can be a consistent wicket taker,” said national selector Rod Marsh.
Despite initially having his refugee application declined, he was granted permanent residency in November 2012.
Later that month, Fawad signed with the Melbourne Renegades, having been granted a special exemption to play in the Big Bash League.
He made his debut in the Big Bash League in January 2013, taking 0/34 on debut, and was subsequently selected in the Prime Minister’s XI to play against the West Indies.
In five one-day matches for Victoria in the Ryobi One Day Cup in 2012-13 he took 10 wickets at 18.00.
He also played in Victoria’s last three matches in the Sheffield Shield, taking 16 wickets at 28.37, including 2 for 79 and 5 for 83 against Queensland.
A devout Muslim, Ahmed has missed training sessions during Ramadan and is known to leave the field to pray during games. He has also requested that logos of sponsors whose activities he does not agree with be removed from his kit and in 2013; the logo of VB was removed from Ahmed’s shirt, due to the fact that Islam prohibits alcohol.
On 29 August 2013, Fawad made his Australian debut playing in a T20 international against England at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
AMES Senior Journalist