Ashes 2013: Fawad Ahmed fast-tracked to boost Australia

Australia can select Pakistan-born spinner Fawad Ahmed from the start of the Ashes after his citizenship application was fast-tracked.

The 31-year-old would have become eligible for Australia on 18 August, but is now available for the start of the five-Test series on 10 July.

Continue reading the main story

I never even dreamed I would get the chance to play for Australia

Fawad Ahmed Leg-spinner

Fawad, who claimed asylum in 2010, is due to tour with Australia A but could now challenge off spinner Nathan Lyon.

"Now I want to give something back to Australia," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"It was a tough time and a hard chapter for me, but now I'm officially an Australian citizen which is great for me."

Australia have been struggling to find a top-class spinner since the retirement of Shane Warne in January 2007.

And last month Warne, who took 708 Test wickets in a stellar international career, backed fellow leg spinner Fawad to make an impact in the Ashes.

"I never even dreamed when I arrived that I would one day get the chance to play for Australia," admitted Fawad.

Australia's post-Warne spinners

  • Stuart McGill : Tests 44, wickets 208
  • Nathan Lyon: Tests 22, wickets 76
  • Nathan Hauritz: Tests 17, wickets 63
  • Brad Hogg: Tests 7, wickets 17
  • Jason Krejza: Tests 2, wickets 13
  • Glenn Maxwell: Tests 2, wickets 7
  • Xavier Doherty: Tests 4, wickets 7
  • Cameron White: Tests 4, wickets 5
  • Steve Smith: Tests 7, wickets 4
  • Beau Casson: Tests 1, wickets 3
  • Michael Beer: Tests 2, wickets 3
  • Bryce McGain: Tests 1, wickets 0

"I am not sure about it [the Ashes] at the moment. I am just concentrating on the 'A' tour which is a great opportunity for me.

"Hopefully I do well and there will be a chance for me sooner or later."

Fawad arrived in Australia on a short-term visa in 2010 and claimed asylum on the grounds he was persecuted by the Taliban in his native Pakistan.

The leg spinner, who played on Australia A's recent tour of the British Isles, has taken 41 wickets in 15 first-class matches.

He played 10 of those matches in Pakistan having made his debut for Abbottabad in October 2005 before he left for Australia.

Australia have tried a dozen slow bowlers with little success since Warne retired after helping the team whitewash England 5-0 in the 2006-07 Ashes series.

The Australian Senate recently passed legislation to fast-track citizenship in special cases enabling Fawad, who would otherwise have been unavailable for the first four Tests, to be in contention for all five matches.

England batting coach Graham Gooch says Fawad's performances for Australia A will be monitored in case of an Ashes call-up.

Gooch told BBC Sport: "We'll obviously have tabs on him to see what he does and how he performs because if he does make an appearance in the series, we need to be aware of that.

"If someone has qualified to live in the country and gets all the stamps in their passport, a naturalised Australian, he becomes just another opponent.

"It's certainly not been their preferred modus operandi in the past. I wouldn't pass judgement on it, but it's not a route that they have gone down before."