June 30, 2012

Australian cricket

From Khyber Pukhtunkhwa to Melbourne

Nikita Bastian

Fawad Ahmed, a legspinner from Pakistan who is grabbing attention at the MCG nets, talks to the Australian Age's Chloe Saltau about being threatened by religious extremists back home for playing the sport.

''I got death threats from them,'' he says. ''They say I am promoting a Western culture and bringing kids out of their homes for recreational activity and if you continue this it might be really difficult for you. ''I quit coaching, but I got [picked] for [first-class] cricket and the matches were all around Pakistan. When I started performing, they said, 'You are still involved with cricket and promoting Western culture. If you come back to home, or wherever you are, we will find you.' I am happy that I am a good Muslim. I am doing nothing contrary to Islam ...

... Simon Helmot, coach of Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League and of Victoria's one-day team, has often enlisted Ahmed as a net bowler. While the two overseas spots at each BBL team will go to stars such as Chris Gayle and Shahid Afridi, Helmot said that if Ahmed could be picked as a local, he would be considered. He has also attracted interest from Perth. ''Our batsmen found him a real challenge,'' Helmot said. For Ahmed, that is ''the dream''.

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Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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