x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Fawad Ahmed picked for Australia A cricket tour of Africa

Leg-spinner, who fled Pakistan three years ago, is still in contention for Ashes once his passport comes through.

Nathan Lyon currently spearheads Australia's spin attack.
Nathan Lyon currently spearheads Australia's spin attack.

Fawad Ahmed, the Pakistan-born leg-spinner who has been widely tipped to be added to Australia's Ashes squad, has been named in the party for next month's A tour of Africa.

The 31 year old claimed refuge in Australia three years ago after he fled his native Pakistan claiming he was being persecuted by the Taliban and has since gone on to forge a successful career in domestic cricket.

A recent amendment to the Citizenship Act meant that Fawad would be allowed to fast-track his passport application in time for the Ashes series, which begins on July 10, and national selector John Inverarity has hinted that the spinner is on course to receive a call-up.

He has now been named in the Australia A squad for the tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe, where the first match gets under way on July 18.

But that does not necessarily preclude him from featuring in the Ashes, with Inverarity saying: "Should replacements be required for the Ashes tour these players will be playing in a similar time zone during this time."

Although he is yet to be awarded an Australian passport, Fawad has played for Australia A in their tour match against Ireland in Belfast, where the spinner took one wicket in 17 overs.

Inverarity recently hinted Fawad could be added to the Ashes squad.

He told the BBC's Test Match Special programme: "It is likely that his passport will be through in time for him to be considered for the squad.

"Then he will be considered for selection. He is a very interesting story."

Currently, Nathan Lyon spearheads Australia's spin attack. But that could change if Fawad impresses at Test level. And there is every chance he will given the high praise he has received from none other than Shane Warne, Australia's most successful spin bowler.

"I think he [Fawad] could be a real surprise element for Australia," said Warne, who has taken 708 Test wickets. "He's got that surprise element and he doesn't get flustered about anything. I think he could be very good for Australia."

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