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Fawad Ahmed granted Australian citizenship

Brydon Coverdale

July 2, 2013

Comments: 50 | Text size: A | A

Fawad Ahmed talks to the media, Melbourne Cricket Ground, July 2, 2013
Fawad Ahmed's application to become an Australian citizen was approved last week © Getty Images

The legspinner Fawad Ahmed's application for Australian citizenship has officially been approved, clearing the way for a possible call-up to the Test squad for the Ashes. Ahmed described the confirmation from former federal immigration minister Brendan O'Connor as a "dream moment", and said he was now looking forward to giving something back to the country that had welcomed him after he fled from Pakistan in 2010.

In one of his final acts as immigration minister before losing the position in a cabinet reshuffle, O'Connor approved the application last week and an official citizenship ceremony is all that remains before Ahmed can obtain his passport. The announcement was made at the MCG on Tuesday and O'Connor said he had listened to a number of submissions, including those from Cricket Australia, on the character and virtues possessed by Ahmed.

"I was able to tell Fawad Ahmed today that his application for citizenship has been approved," O'Connor said. "It was approved late last week ... and it was approved because we were able to look at the application in a different light because of the changes to the Australian citizenship act that went through the parliament not long ago."

Those changes meant that some individuals could have their citizenship fast-tracked if it was considered they could be of benefit to Australia in a range of fields, including sport, science, medicine and the performing arts.

However, Ahmed's lack of wickets in two matches for Australia A in Belfast and Bristol last month mean that an Ashes call-up is no certainty, and he is instead concentrating on the upcoming Australia A tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa. Ahmed said he was grateful for the support he had received in his application for citizenship and he was pleased to be able to focus solely on cricket for the first time in many years.

"It's a long journey and it was a long struggle," Ahmed said on Tuesday. "The whole community of Australia - the people really supported me throughout this journey. It's a victory for our sport ... and for this country. I just can't wait to be a citizen. Especially in the field of cricket, I just want to give back something to this country.

"I have a great opportunity with Australia A in Zimbabwe and South Africa. I will try my best to perform well on those two tours and it depends on the selections. It will be an honour to represent Australia in the Ashes or maybe other tournaments. It's more relaxed now, I can feel there are no issues. Now I'm a citizen and can concentrate on my cricket and look forward to my bright future in cricket."

Whether that bright future includes this year's Ashes tour remains to be seen. The left-arm spinner Ashton Agar is likely to travel with the Ashes group in a development capacity, not as an official squad member, but his encouraging performances for Australia A could make him a more likely candidate for a call-up than Ahmed if the selectors decide they need a second spinner alongside Nathan Lyon.

Agar picked up six wickets at 16.50 on the Australia A tour of the British Isles and will play for the Australians in their tour match against Worcestershire starting on Tuesday. By comparison, Ahmed had a tougher time for Australia A and managed only two wickets at 82.50.

"The conditions were tough," Ahmed said. "It was freezing cold, it was nine degrees and the wind was pretty fast. I was bowling against the wind. But I should have bowled a bit better than that. I bowled a few really good balls as well and beat the bat, and I was unlucky a few times with dropped catches but that's a part of cricket."

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

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Posted by Shaggy076 on (July 3, 2013, 6:26 GMT)

I think what most commenters are missing is Fawad moved to Australia not to further his cricketing career but for political asylum. The reasons have been documented in several articles. The fact he is handy at cricket has sped up the immigration process, but with a modest first class record I cant see him playing for Australia anytime soon. I think it is a great story that a refugee has been able to represent Australia A and hopefully show the world of Australias tolerance to all cultures. To me Fawad is an Australian and like all Australian cricketers should now be judged on performance irrespective of the heritage.

Posted by cricketsage on (July 3, 2013, 3:50 GMT)

I hope he does better for Australia than Imran Tahir has done for SA. Remember these are players who were not even on selectors radar in Pakistan. And just because they are from sub-continent doesn't mean they can spin the ball well.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (July 3, 2013, 2:33 GMT)

Also, please the Khawaja debate he has been in Australia since he was two years old. He is Australian and considered Australian by the selectors and team mates alike. He hasn't made the runs to guarantee his spot in the team - I believe ethnicity doesn't even come in to the equation.

Posted by Chris_P on (July 2, 2013, 23:57 GMT)

For those who don't get it let's set a few things straight. Fawad asked for political asylum, he wasn't released, poached, invited or whatever else has been offered up. The circumstances for his reasons are well documented. The goods news should have climaxed by being picked up by one of the BBL teams & even getting selection late in the season for Victoria. Now the rest is a source of great concern that he could be selected after 2 games, an undistinguished fc career that continued with very ordinary performances for Australia A. He is well behind a few other notable spinners in Australia & the question that really should be asked is why weren't these players selected, not why was Fawad was. But good luck to him, he is very welcome to our country & I really hope he thrives in whatever he chooses to do.

Posted by Chris_P on (July 2, 2013, 23:50 GMT)

@KiwiRocker. Ill informed comments? Perhaps, my friend, you better start reading the news. Try looking up the SMH/sports & cricket section & read about it yourself & join me in my "ill informed comments". And yes, Pakistan is considering selecting him for the next tour even though he hasn't played a fc game to block his move. He did, btw, play for South Australia 2nd XI in the futures shield, a prelude to being selected to the shield side. Ill informed? OK, if you say so. Perhaps I should have added, he wanted to return, stay the required time THEN apply for citizenship, but however you look at it, he is cosidering it, so hardly "ill-informed".

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (July 2, 2013, 23:29 GMT)

As there's no other spinner in Australia truly capable of being world class, Fawad Ahmed is a welcome addition to the Australian cricket team. Like all spinners he will need time to adapt his game to test cricket, and he will no doubt prove handy on away tours.

Posted by HolyShmoly on (July 2, 2013, 17:00 GMT)

I am happy for this guy but find this totally bizarre. The basis for his citizenship application is asylum which means there needs to be a genuine threat to his life and safety back in his home country. If the immigration body didn't find it credible the first time it meant there was really no threat. I am not going to argue whether there was a threat to his life or not. Only this guy knows that and only the Australian immigration authorities have a right to judge. However fast tracking his application that is based on asylum grounds and approving it because he has rare skills doesn't make sense. I am an immigrant myself and all for recognition of skills and expertise...each country has the right to decide who to allow to be immigrated and who not but this case seems completely illogical unless he had a new application based on his skills different than his asylum case. Otherwise it sounds totally opportunistic on both sides and not an asylum need based.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 16:55 GMT)

I think CA is rushing too much to put Fawad in Australian squad. I know he's a good bowler but in some of recent matches he hasn't been upto that mark. Being a Pakistani i want him to play for Australia but in case if he doesn't peform then what CA will do? And it might be not good for his international career..

Posted by Young_Hindustani on (July 2, 2013, 14:44 GMT)

If someone is born in a perticular county then he/she has birth rite to represent that country in any field. and living in USA myself for many years I know this players are completely loyal and passonate to play for their birth country. therefore I dont consider Amla as Indian or khawaja as pak/Indian. they are Safairs and ausralians. however we subcontiential people should take pride in them as we share common ancestry roots.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 14:14 GMT)

Why not throw him in, the Poms don't play legspin any better now then they did historically !

Posted by SirViv1973 on (July 2, 2013, 12:59 GMT)

Despite his moderate FC class record & lack of games, perhaps this guy does have a role to play in the Aus side over the next few yrs. However surely Aus will see sense & put him on the plane to SAF for A tour. To throw him in to such a high profile series in unfamilar conditions against one of the stronest batting units in the game, will more than likley finish him as an international cricketer, before he has practically started.

Posted by zaf100 on (July 2, 2013, 12:54 GMT)

Good luck to Fawad Ahmed and wish him all the best for the future. Watching England batting against a leggie in England vs Essex practice match i think Australian selectors should immediately drafted him in the side because wickets will turn in July,August and he will be a very handy bowler to bowl on those sort of wickets. England record against leg spin bowling is not great so Australia must attack them with that newly acquired weapon called Fawad Ahmed.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 12:25 GMT)

i hope he play very will far australia

Posted by 2nd_Slip on (July 2, 2013, 12:23 GMT)

@ Mary_786 and @ H-Shakil are you guys serious!!! Saying Amla is Indian is like saying M Clarke is English just because of his British descendant Caucasian family line!!! Get real, Amla is South African. Have to admit though, I hate it when players chop an change nationality for be it earning more or getting a chance to play international sport, but then again that is the way they make a living, so who are we to judge them for that

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 12:15 GMT)

this will illustrate how bad Australia needs a steady spinner (at least) at their national ranks. nathon lyon selection to ashes, purely because they had nothing to select in terms of spinners in their squad. spinners, in fact leg spinners are very rare breed in international cricket. with all due respect to fawad, all sub-continent cricketing nations have hundreds of spinners like fawad's economy and strike rate, that hadn't got a chance to selected their national cricket squads in their lifetime. anyway wish him a good luck for his carrier ............ but for Australia, they need proper plan to breed good spinners generation ...cause they have all time greatest leg spinner warnie ..... as their spin consultant or coach or whatever.

Posted by dunger.bob on (July 2, 2013, 11:57 GMT)

He's been waiting about 3 years for Citizenship, which doesn't seem obscenely fast tracked, but is a bit sooner than most I believe. .. I'm not so sure about this policy when it comes to sport. Science, medicine, engineering etc are fine because these people bring benefits to the whole of society, but sport. Hmm, I'll have to think about that some more.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (July 2, 2013, 11:57 GMT)

Several comments around here are mentioning Fawad Alam who is a completely different player. Fawad Alam is a Pakistani test all rounder from Karachi. Furthermore, I have read Hashim Amla's name being mentioned. While, Hashim Amla is indeed a devout Muslim, however, his ancestors hailed from Gujrat, India. Usman Khawaja is a different case as he was born in Pakistan. Fawad Ahmad took asylum in Australia and has now been granted citizenship. Chris_P: Your comments are ill informed. Usman Qadir indeed is a son of Abdul Qadir and played club cricket in Australia, however, he is on verge of selection in Pakistan's tour to West Indies. One can not become Australian citizen without residence. Problem with players like Fawad is that bowlers of his quality linger around on every street of Pakistan and due to that, players like Fawad and Tahir would never get into Pakistan's top XI. Pakistan cricket has problem producing batsmen, but no issues when it comes to producing all types of bowlers...

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 10:53 GMT)

Its not just ahmad in the picture but i see 2 leg-spinners.

Posted by Haleos on (July 2, 2013, 10:43 GMT)

Australia here I come. Please grant me citizenship. I am forbidden from playing cricket in our back garden. What a joke OZ policy is. It seems they can be fooled easily. Cricket is religion in Asia so anyone claiming he can not play cricket somewhere needs to be thoroughly checked. BTW I can bowl leg/off/mystery any tye of spin and have taken 600 wickets in my short career on Andriod.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 10:38 GMT)

I am encouraging my son to take leg spin seriously. Seems the most coveted position in Australia and SA.

Posted by satishchandar on (July 2, 2013, 10:29 GMT)

Looks a decent spinner and fro Pakistan, he would obviously be a good bowler.. How well would he fit into the culture of Aussie dressing room? I guess the problem for Khawaja had it as one of his biggest negatives - the dressing room activities.. How well he will be received in the dressing would be the one which would give the length of his stint with the team.. Good luck Fawad..

Posted by highveldhillbilly on (July 2, 2013, 10:27 GMT)

As a South African we've seen this film before however that time it was called I. Tahir who had a much better first class record when compared to Ahmed. No offense to Ahmed, I wish him all the best, but the guy averages 35 in first class cricket, has only played 15 first class games and there is talk of him playing in the Ashes, crazy! Setting him up for failure.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (July 2, 2013, 10:16 GMT)

More desperate meaures from Australia. Dont think this guy will get much game time if Usman K. is much to go by. If clarke doesnt like you, you dont play...

Posted by Haleos on (July 2, 2013, 10:10 GMT)

@ Ayeen - Look at his stats. We need change the definition of talent is he is considered talented. @ Khan-999 - he could not perform where pitches assists spin. What is he gonna do elsewhere.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 10:07 GMT)

Man, congrats. But need to prove Australian selection is "not wrong"

Posted by Khan-999 on (July 2, 2013, 10:00 GMT)

First Imran Tahir and now Fawad Alam...Speaks volumes about dearth of spin talent in these countries. Tahir couldn't make much of a mark in international arena I hope this 'fast tracked' Aussie citizen can perform and prove of some value to them

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 9:58 GMT)

@H-Shakil How many of the players you name was born in Pakistan? Aint amla's grand parents from india?

Posted by cleanprophet on (July 2, 2013, 9:57 GMT)

Very odd. I've only seen footage of him bowling to Clarke on the eve of the series against South Africa and a potential meeting with Imran Tahir. He looked alright, but nothing special.

It just seems odd because Adam Zampa looks a really good prospect. From what I've seen, Zampa has a great mentality for bowling leg spin and should have been on the tour to India (although, he's probably thankful he wasn't on that tour).

Posted by Smithie on (July 2, 2013, 9:55 GMT)

Note to Edwards, Sutherland, Inverarity, Boof and Clarke : CA needs to develop a major long term plan to improve Australia's bowling of, and batting against, spin. Many future major matches are going to be played in spin friendly conditions and substantial resources should be directed towards preparing professionally for these. The law change presents an opportunity to bring subcontinental expertise into both the playing and coaching spheres. It does not have to mean acceptance of the controversial doosra. It also means preparing a range of spin friendly pitches around Australia that replicate conditions on the Sub Continent. The laws of the game on over rates mean that slow bowling must be used as total reliance on pace is not possible. CA needs a change of mindset re spin if Aus is to regain supremacy and this law change can be the catalyst for that.

Posted by portman on (July 2, 2013, 9:54 GMT)

Its a disgrace, should have gone through the same process to gain citizenship as everyone else. Why doesn't he want to play for his own country??

Posted by AndyMick on (July 2, 2013, 9:51 GMT)

Amazing, when England do this th Aussies especially make a joke of it, when they do it, and with special permissions, it's all okay. Obviously their cricket is in a real bad state right now, so all of this is good for England and a 10-0 whitewash over the next 6 months or so!

Posted by Chris_P on (July 2, 2013, 9:51 GMT)

Good luck to him. What is even more of an an intrigue is that Usman Qadir (son of the legendary Abdul), after playing in Adelaide last summer is, from all reports, very keen to return & apply for citizenship. And I would suggest, at 19 years of age, he is one for the future, whoever he plays for.

Posted by milepost on (July 2, 2013, 9:46 GMT)

He is an Aussie now, we don't treat fellow Aussies any differently. Good luck to you Fawad!

Posted by vsroc on (July 2, 2013, 9:45 GMT)

Posted by Venkat Sraman on (July 2,2013) Hearty congrajulations. All the best in your future endeavour.

Posted by Mary_786 on (July 2, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

@Hshakil my understanding is that Amla has an Indian background, Khawaja's mother is Indian too, so not completely Pakistan dominated but sub continent dominated.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (July 2, 2013, 9:39 GMT)

Fawad Alam is not currently doing as well as Ashton Agar.

Posted by absk on (July 2, 2013, 9:14 GMT)

First Imran Tahir and now Fawad Alam...Speaks volumes about dearth of spin talent in these countries. Tahir couldn't make much of a mark in international arena I hope this 'fast tracked' Aussie citizen can perform and prove of some value to them.

Posted by howdle on (July 2, 2013, 9:03 GMT)

good luck to him, I hope hes in the team for the ashes! best of luck in doing so! Chris from Leeds, England.

Posted by Ayeen on (July 2, 2013, 8:53 GMT)

As a pakistani we proud that our citizen given a special treatment. Its means that this country had a telant that the world also take care of them & giveing special treatment to them. Love you pakistan

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

What is so good about this guy that the Australians are so desperate to have him? Has a very ordinary record, is in to his 30's and seems to be a one dimensional cricketer. Is the spin bowling cupboard that bare?

Posted by KhanMitch on (July 2, 2013, 8:42 GMT)

I am not a fan yet, i think our local guys such as SOS, Beer, Holland, Agar should get first go at the spot, and i think he should have gone through the same waiting process as all other folks.

Posted by Ahsan-cric-freak on (July 2, 2013, 8:36 GMT)

Hate such players migrating and leaving their motherland for their earnings. Pakistan haven't lost anything. Ahmed wasn't a spinner of that caliber of Ajmals and Rehmans so he had no place in the current team. He realized that and went to Australia rather than working hard to earn his berth in the Green team. Shame Fawad!

Posted by Firenze317 on (July 2, 2013, 8:35 GMT)

Well well! A friend of mine predicted this exact scenario a few weeks ago! Good luck to you Fawaz, it's a shame Pakistan could not/would not recognise your talent!

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 8:34 GMT)

Pakistanis wish u best of luck Fawad Ahmad......

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 8:34 GMT)

Sincerely, good luck to him! The road to the Aus national team is not an easy one. Right now I would have him behind Lyon, Agar, O'Keefe (seriously, he must have run over someone's dog) and even Maxwell (who has a better bowling record than Lyon BTW). But if he keeps taking wickets over the course of a season or two let's see what happens.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 8:31 GMT)

Good luck you man and hope you will prove a good sport man and you will never forget people who spot you all the way and should proud that you born in Pakistan Aussie need you badly ............,,,.,....

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 8:03 GMT)

great news for Cricket Australia

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 7:59 GMT)

lets see maybe we can him in Australian playing 11

Posted by spindizzy on (July 2, 2013, 7:57 GMT)

Welcome to Australia, I hope you have the opportunity to make the most of yourself here. Good luck for the future!

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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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