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Parliament gives Ahmed Ashes hope

Brydon Coverdale

May 30, 2013

Comments: 127 | Text size: A | A

Fawad Ahmed celebrates the wicket of Greg Moller, Victoria v Queensland, Sheffield Shield, day 4, Melbourne, February 21, 2013
Under the current system, Fawad Ahmed won't get an Australian passport until August, shortly before the final Ashes Test © Getty Images
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Fawad Ahmed moved one step closer to an Ashes call-up on Thursday when a bill was introduced to federal parliament that could alter Australia's citizenship laws. Under the current system, Ahmed is unable to obtain an Australian passport until August, shortly before the final Ashes Test, but if passed, the bill introduced by immigration and citizenship minister, Brendan O'Connor, would allow a fast-tracking of that passport.

O'Connor did not refer to Ahmed by name in parliament on Thursday but he mentioned cricket as a sport that would be covered by the Australian Citizenship Amendment (special residence requirements) bill 2013. The changes would allow the minister to fast-track the citizenship claims of people whose work benefits Australia but who do not meet the existing residency requirements, and sportspeople would fall into that category.

"The new instrument will include international cricket competitions as a specified activity and adds Cricket Australia to the list of organisations that may support an application," O'Connor said. "The proposed amendments will give the minister the discretion to provide a pathway to citizenship for a very small number of people in very exceptional circumstances where their becoming a citizen would be of benefit to Australia. Australia should be proud to call these people their own."

However, the move is far from a guarantee of Ahmed's Ashes eligibility, because there are only 13 sitting days of parliament remaining in the current session and a significant backlog of legislation waiting to be passed. The bill is expected to be debated next week. But it does give Cricket Australia hope that Ahmed could play a part in the early stages of their Ashes campaign after they left one place vacant when naming the 16-man squad last month.

"Those of us who have seen him bowl have been very impressed with him," national selector John Inverarity said when naming the squad. "He's a very good legspinner and yes he does remain in contention. We've selected 16 players and we state now that should the need arise we will add to the squad. We don't know when he's going to become eligible, but there's always that possibility."

Ahmed, 31, played ten first-class matches in Pakistan before moving to Australia in 2010 as an asylum seeker. He impressed in his first few matches with Victoria last summer, collecting 16 Sheffield Shield wickets in three games, and was highly praised by current and former players including Stuart MacGill. If he does join the Ashes squad he will increase the pressure on Nathan Lyon, the incumbent Test spinner and only specialist slow bowler in the group.

"I think Nathan is well and truly aware of that," captain Michael Clarke said this week. "He knows where he sits in the team. There is a lot of water under the bridge before we have to worry about the first Test match."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Yes.Valkyries on (June 4, 2013, 18:49 GMT)

@AKS286 Yes its true that Australian class fall under Clarke's captaincy & the team is divided into Clarke's men & non-Clarke's men. but it is the fault of management rather than Clarke. Mark Taylor nurture Steve Waugh- Waugh to Punter and then to Pup but Clarke still not nurture any future leader. Smith is the committed man but the problem is he is not a member of playing XI. In the Fawad case yes it is a quick gamble (not decision), i also want that S'OK, Beer, Boyce, Agar, Doherty, Zampa should get proper chance. Change in Law may bring mass but not class. and also Openers are main problem instead of spinners. Cowan is not upto the mark & Warner's form is poor, Hughes still not in the form, If we leave Clarke the middle order is inexperienced.

Posted by AKS286 on (June 4, 2013, 6:43 GMT)

@ScottStevo Clarke is a good batsman in test and his performance is really good but he is a very poor captain. you said after Katich what after Katch retirement or axing or throw out of team?

Posted by AKS286 on (June 4, 2013, 6:17 GMT)

@ScottStevo on (June 2, 2013, 14:21 GMT) Yes fella Johnson is the best in all format. After the retirement of McGrath, Gillespie, Lee He is the only man who dominate the Aus cricket & bowls beautifully around the world. Clark(not used properly), Bracken(Not in tests), are just supportive. R.Ponting used MJ so well and he has a lots of faith on him. Clarke who trust on Starc and MJ is ignored remeber fella 74 all out Vs SL. Clarke ignored MJ with 3-0-11-3. Steyn & co bowls in toughest pitch of India ie Motera Ground & Steyn picks 7 wickets to beat India. Eng also taste the defeat over there. and kindly Check out the Australia's downfall & insecurities, performance under Clarke's regime. Aus now called Underdogs and Clarke's loves it.

Posted by ScottStevo on (June 2, 2013, 14:38 GMT)

...but he may get a call up if he bowls well in the CT and a few of our bowlers get injured (which is a strong possibility!). All captains are under scrutiny, however, on the field, Clarke is proving himself a good captain and his performances are remarkable since taking over. As for him cutting and selecting players, I think you overestimate Clarke's responsibilities here. Whether Clarke is galvanising the dressing room as well as other captains, possibly not, but he's only just starting/learning. Your criticism of him is massively unwarranted.

Posted by ScottStevo on (June 2, 2013, 14:21 GMT)

@AKS286, Who is making excuses? Actually, after Katich left Watson and Warner formed quite a decent partnership until Watson got injured. Not having a world class spinner isn't an excuse, it's common knowledge! In India it certainly isn't great not having a spinner of quality. I'm not so sure of conditions when Steyn and co. played in India, but I can assure you, that the decks that Anderson co. bowled on got the second half of that series were a load more reasonable than those Aus played on, simply due to the fact that Aus batting were collapsing against spin and we didn't have a spinner to cause Ind problems. The decks for Aus got dryer and dustier whereas for England they were getting better and better for fast bowling as Ind struggled against Swann & Panesar. I agree, I'm no fan of Wade either, nor Maxwell and I'm not that keen on Cowan either. I also agree that Johnson is bowling very well at the moment, but he's not our best in all formats- but was unlucky not to in the squad.

Posted by oscoli67 on (June 2, 2013, 5:36 GMT)

@PakiPace on (June 1, 2013, 13:30 GMT) ... you have hit the nail smack bang on its head. Where are this 31 year old man's international caps? He may be a reasonable bowler, better perhaps than the incumbent aussie spin options, but one thing he won't be is the next SK Warne. He may do ok, he may be awful, he may never even get a baggy green cap. Who knows. I'd say he's unlikely to be a match winner in this current Aus team because I genuinely don't think their batting is going to score enough runs to give him something to bowl at. Aus selectors should be trying to decide on their best 11 players. Let's not forget our old pal Xavier Doherty, picked because KP can't play left arm spin. There were 227 reasons at Adelaide why perhaps they should have thought twice.

Posted by Biggus on (June 1, 2013, 20:00 GMT)

@AKS286-What I want is for you to get your facts right, that's all. I wouldn't have thought that was an unreasonable expectation.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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