Ahmed surges into calculations
Cricket Australia is seeking clarification on International Cricket Council eligibility rules as refugee Fawad Ahmed's bid for national selection gathers momentum.
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The leg-spinner snared match figures of seven for 162 to bowl the Bushrangers to an outright victory over Queensland that sent them to the top of the Sheffield Shield table.
"I'm pretty hopeful I am not far away from a baggy green. It would be great, amazing, unbelievable," the 30-year-old said after the match at the MCG.
Victorian captain Cameron White and Queensland counterpart James Hopes both labelled Ahmed the best wrist spinner in Australia following today's performance.
"I think when he's qualified he'll probably play for Australia pretty quickly, I'd imagine," White said.
"It's pretty simple - he's one of the better, if not the best, leg-spinners I've seen in first-class cricket outside (Stuart) MacGill and (Shane) Warne. I never saw (Peter) McIntyre or the other guys."
Hopes said Ahmed's strength was his ability to maintain control over batsmen during long spells.
"In my eyes he's the best wrist spinner in the competition. That's no surprise. He's been plying his trade for a while now," Hopes said.
"He's got very good control, which is a good sign for a leg-spinner, he's got good variation. He never really gives you a break and on that kind of pitch, which is a wearing pitch, he's hard to keep out.
"He's a match-winner. He would hold his own at the top level, comfortably."
A spokesman confirmed Cricket Australia was waiting on further information about eligibility laws from the ICC.
The worst-case scenario would see Ahmed, who arrived in Australia in early 2010, forced to wait until next summer to fit the criteria.
But, should he be granted citizenship in the same way the country's overseas-born Olympians have in the past, he could be handed a baggy green the next day.
"There is a window and I'm pretty hopeful we will get through that soon. The process will take some time, so I am pretty hopeful that as soon as possible I will get it," Ahmed said.
"Otherwise I am going to wait until the end of this year."
Ahmed played 10 first-class matches in his native country before fleeing Pakistan as a political refugee in February 2010.
He resumed his cricket career with Melbourne suburban side Hoppers Crossing until his dominant performances there won him selection for Victorian Premier Cricket club Melbourne University.
In November last year he was awarded a Big Bash League contract with Melbourne Renegades.
He was called up for the Prime Minister's XI match against the West Indies in Canberra last month, where national team head selector John Inverarity sang his praises.