Fawad Ahmed named in Prime Minister's XI
Fawad Ahmed, the Pakistan-born legspinner who was granted asylum to live in Australia last year, has been named in the Prime Minister's XI to take on West Indies in Canberra on January 29. Ahmed, who made his Big Bash League debut for the Melbourne Renegades on Wednesday, was initially denied asylum but that decision was overturned late last year.
He is part of what Australia's national selector John Inverarity called a side that reflected the cultural diversity in Australia's cricket pathways, with the fast bowler* Gurinder Sandhu, and the Pakistani-born Usman Khawaja also in the team. Ricky Ponting will captain the side with Brad Haddin as vice-captain.
"The PM's XI game is a special fixture on the Australian cricketing calendar," Inverarity said. "It provides a unique opportunity for many of our most talented and promising cricketers to showcase their skills. Captain Ricky Ponting and vice-captain Brad Haddin are two players who bring with them leadership and enormous experience on the international stage, and will be excellent drawcards.
"Usman Khawaja has been in great form this summer and James Faulkner, who made his international Twenty20 debut for Australia against India last year, will also be keen to make his mark.
"The team also features emerging leg spin bowler Fawad Ahmed, who was born and raised in Pakistan. Fawad is playing for the Melbourne Renegades in the KFC T20 Big Bash League and grade club Melbourne University, and we are encouraged by his ongoing development.
"We have also been very pleased with the progress of ... fast bowler Gurinder Sandhu, who has performed well for the Sydney Thunder following strong performances for Australia in last year's Under 19 World Cup. With two Pakistani-born and one Indian-born player in the team, these talented players reflect the cultural diversity that exists within our pathway systems."
Prime Minister's XI Ricky Ponting (capt), Brad Haddin (vc, wk), Fawad Ahmed, Jono Dean, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Kane Richardson, Gurinder Sandhu, Ashton Turner, Nick Winter (12th man).
* 09:35 GMT, January 11, 2013: The story has been edited to remove "Indian-born" from the description of Gurinder Sandhu. The same description has also been removed from John Inverarity's quote.