x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Fawad Ahmed named Australian citizen, eligible for Ashes selection

Delighted Pakistan-born leg-spinner, whose focus is on the Australia A tour of Africa, wants to "give something back" to adopted country.

Fawad Ahmed, left, speaking with Brendan O'Connor, a senior Australian government official, will be in action for Australia A. Quinn Rooney / Getty Images
Fawad Ahmed, left, speaking with Brendan O'Connor, a senior Australian government official, will be in action for Australia A. Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

Fawad Ahmed, the Pakistan-born leg-spinner, was named an Australian citizen on Tuesday, clearing the final procedural hurdle for his selection for the Ashes series against England starting on July 10.

Brendan O'Connor, the former federal minister for immigration, made the announcement within a fortnight of the Australian senate passing legislation to fast-track citizenship in special cases.

"It's a long journey and it was a long struggle," said Ahmed, who arrived in Australia on a short-term visa in 2010 and claimed asylum on the grounds of receiving death threats from Islamic extremists for being involved with a Pakistani NGO promoting women's rights.

"I just can't wait to be a citizen. Especially in the field of cricket, I just want to give back something to this country," added the 31 year old, who Australia hope can fill the huge void left by Shane Warne.

Australia have tried a dozen slow bowlers with little success (see gallery) since spin great Warne retired with a Test haul of 708 wickets after helping the team whitewash England 5-0 in the 2006/07 Ashes series.

England have won both series since and Australia included just one spinner, Nathan Lyon, in their squad as they renew the rivalry with the first Test in Nottingham next week.

Ahmed said his immediate goal was to do well for Australia A in Zimbabwe and South Africa without bothering about a much-anticipated Ashes selection.

"I will try my best to perform well in those two tours and it depends on the selections," said the spinner, who has 41 wickets from 15 first-class matches.

"It will be an honour to represent Australia in the Ashes or maybe other tournaments."

Rogers to open with Watson

Chris Rogers will open for Australia in the first Ashes Test, coach Darren Lehmann said on Monday.

The 35 year old has only played one Test, scoring 19 runs in two innings against India at Perth in January 2008.

"I've dreamt about this but I didn't necessarily believe it would ever come true," Rogers told the BBC. "This opportunity is one that is not going to come too often.

"I have nothing to lose and hopefully I can take that attitude into the test match. It's going to be about managing my emotions."

Rogers will partner Shane Watson at the top of the order but first the untried pairing will team up in Australia's final warm-up match against Worcestershire that starts on Tuesday.

Rogers may be a Test novice but he has plenty of experience in English conditions. He is the captain of county side Middlesex and has also played for Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Northants.

He averages 50.38 from 239 first-class matches.

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