Gloucestershire v Australia A, Bristol, 3rd day June 23, 2013

Fawad Ahmed given dose of reality

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Australia A 331 for 4 (Maddinson 181) dec and 111 (Gidman 4-25) beat Gloucestershire 122 (Sayers 5-24) and 296 (Dent 56, Christian 46, Bird 3-53, Harris 3-56, Sayers 3-68) by 24 runs
Scorecard

Fawad Ahmed provided the single most thrilling moment of Australia A's tighter-than-it-should-have-been victory over Gloucestershire when he clasped a blinding catch at mid-on to account for a stubborn Gareth Roderick. Unfortunately for Ahmed, it was also the most telling contribution he made to the last match before Australia's selectors decided whether or not to add him to the Ashes squad that assembles in Taunton on Monday.

Match figures of 31.2-9-100-1 for Ahmed told a story almost as barren as the tourists' second innings fade for 111, against a Division Two team that their captain Michael Klinger conceded was still learning how to play "hard first-class cricket". There were mitigating factors against the success of legspin in the match, cold temperatures keeping hands cold and an icy wind testing Ahmed's command of length and pace.

Ashton Agar's left-arm spin fared rather better, though their relative tallies of overs suggested the 19-year-old was not being quite so closely observed by the selectors John Inverarity, Rod Marsh and Mickey Arthur. Ahmed's best was eye-catching, several leg breaks fizzing past groping bats and some googlies misread as comprehensively by Matthew Wade as they were by the Gloucestershire batsmen.

But a tally of two wickets from as many matches on the Australia A tour is the first significant reverse Ahmed has suffered since making his state debut for Victoria last summer and quickly factoring into the calculations of selectors, administrators, marketeers and ultimately Federal politicians, who passed legislation to expedite his application for citizenship last week.

Questions about Ahmed's readiness for an Ashes promotion were chief among those raised by the first long-form match played by an Australian team in England this year. Steve Smith, the stand-in captain while Brad Haddin rested, could thank his pace bowling triumvirate of Ryan Harris, Jackson Bird and the fast-rising Chadd Sayers for ensuring the tour would conclude with three victories out of three, but the tourists were placed under considerable pressure before getting there.

On the second evening Dan Christian had taken the initiative well away from the bowlers, inflicting particular punishment on Ahmed. He would only add another six runs to his overnight total before the persisting Harris coaxed an outside edge behind, but after Benny Howell was pinned lbw first ball, a series of partnerships down the order had Gloucestershire creeping alarmingly close to their target, Ahmed's catch notwithstanding.

The last pair of Liam Norwell and Tom Smith had scrounged 36 together by the time Sayers claimed a deserved eighth wicket for the match, granting Wade his fifth catch among 23 byes, the morning session extended by an extra half hour for the taking of the final wicket proving a nervous 30 minutes for a team that had seemed in such command on the first day, declaring after a mere 58 overs then rounding up five early wickets.

From there they had to fight the match out. Gloucestershire's ability to fight toe-to-toe with a conglomerate of Australia's best young players plus a sprinkling of Ashes tourists provided some disquieting evidence to back up the observation of the former England captain Andrew Strauss about what his side had witnessed down under in 2010-11.

"We were surprised at the quality of some of the state sides," Strauss told the Sunday Times. "Australia used to have a conveyor belt of talent but it was noticeable they were a long way behind where they had been four years previously."

On the evidence of this match there is still a lot of catching up to do, for Ahmed and Australia.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Beertjie on June 24, 2013, 17:06 GMT

    @Sirio on (June 24, 2013, 7:33 GMT), can't agree. Despite all the best quicks Aus still needs a wicket-taking spinner to win on tracks like SCG and AO. It's still too early for Agar and Zampa this year, but Lyon needs to fire or be replaced. By whom? If Ahmed continues to bowl with success in Shield next summer, he'll play for sure. I don't know why SO'K isn't picked. Go figure! Anyway, the future are Silk, Agar and Zampa, but in the meantime guys like Rogers and Ahmed will likely buy time for the hopeful uncrowned kings.

  • reddawn1975 on June 24, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    SACK John Inverarity my god the man does not know anything about selecting a good cricket team

  • on June 24, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    @ kc69 Referring to your comment - 'Aus A have 2 Pakistani's', you need to research some more. Fawad is the only Pakistani by birth, Agar was born in Australia and has Sri Lankan heritage.

  • Sirio on June 24, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    FAWAD will never get a chance for Australia. That's a fact. He should know that and be contended. Its fair as well as he needs more first class games to groom himself first and then he will be too old to be considered.

  • Chris_P on June 24, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    @ kc69 Klinger & Christian makes 2 Aussies. :)

  • BradmanBestEver on June 24, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    I agree Sam Byrnes - Ahmed's record is not inspiring. I like Agar - but he needs more 1st class cricket before he is seriously considered. Our best is Lyon, O'Keefe and Hauritz who are all below Swann's standard unfortunately. Our quicks compare well with the English though. If luck goes our way we could just win, if not I reckon we are toast.

  • on June 24, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    think he's very over rated

  • Moppa on June 24, 2013, 2:05 GMT

    @Showbags88, spot on, I agree 100%. @jmcilhinney, I wouldn't worry too much about Haddin's fitness, he played his second and third Tests with a busted finger so he's pretty tough. Re Ahmed, only the media are talking him up as an Ashes saviour, most Aussie fans are hoping for fireworks from Pattinson, deadly accuracy from Bird and gutsy displays from Siddle and Harris to 'save' us. Oh, and someone other than Clarke to make runs. @Yorkshire-86, that's some complex maths you're doing there, let's see if I can follow it: you're saying that 11 is less than 31? And therefore 11 divided by 31 is less than 1? I think I've got it...

  • Chris_P on June 24, 2013, 1:23 GMT

    @yorkshire-86. Yes! My point exactly. I am certain the media has been partly to blame with all this hype, but I have been staggered by the impractical series of circumstances that has seen him leap frog many more deserving aspirants.

    I think this result is neither here not there, let's remember guys, when the young lions toured Australia earlier this year, the returns were absolutely humiliating (0-5) & against sides who weren't among the best 12 in Australia, but the real measure of success is what players take away from their experience to use, constructively, for their country when the serious stuff happens.

    BTW F-F-L, can't recall your comments on those results, the silence......,,, somewhat deafening isn't it?

  • kc69 on June 24, 2013, 0:57 GMT

    Looking at Gloucestershire bowling lineup-One Aussie,One Saffa and a French guy..not bad at all..and Aus A have 2 Pakistani's.Looks like a multicultural match

  • Beertjie on June 24, 2013, 17:06 GMT

    @Sirio on (June 24, 2013, 7:33 GMT), can't agree. Despite all the best quicks Aus still needs a wicket-taking spinner to win on tracks like SCG and AO. It's still too early for Agar and Zampa this year, but Lyon needs to fire or be replaced. By whom? If Ahmed continues to bowl with success in Shield next summer, he'll play for sure. I don't know why SO'K isn't picked. Go figure! Anyway, the future are Silk, Agar and Zampa, but in the meantime guys like Rogers and Ahmed will likely buy time for the hopeful uncrowned kings.

  • reddawn1975 on June 24, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    SACK John Inverarity my god the man does not know anything about selecting a good cricket team

  • on June 24, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    @ kc69 Referring to your comment - 'Aus A have 2 Pakistani's', you need to research some more. Fawad is the only Pakistani by birth, Agar was born in Australia and has Sri Lankan heritage.

  • Sirio on June 24, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    FAWAD will never get a chance for Australia. That's a fact. He should know that and be contended. Its fair as well as he needs more first class games to groom himself first and then he will be too old to be considered.

  • Chris_P on June 24, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    @ kc69 Klinger & Christian makes 2 Aussies. :)

  • BradmanBestEver on June 24, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    I agree Sam Byrnes - Ahmed's record is not inspiring. I like Agar - but he needs more 1st class cricket before he is seriously considered. Our best is Lyon, O'Keefe and Hauritz who are all below Swann's standard unfortunately. Our quicks compare well with the English though. If luck goes our way we could just win, if not I reckon we are toast.

  • on June 24, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    think he's very over rated

  • Moppa on June 24, 2013, 2:05 GMT

    @Showbags88, spot on, I agree 100%. @jmcilhinney, I wouldn't worry too much about Haddin's fitness, he played his second and third Tests with a busted finger so he's pretty tough. Re Ahmed, only the media are talking him up as an Ashes saviour, most Aussie fans are hoping for fireworks from Pattinson, deadly accuracy from Bird and gutsy displays from Siddle and Harris to 'save' us. Oh, and someone other than Clarke to make runs. @Yorkshire-86, that's some complex maths you're doing there, let's see if I can follow it: you're saying that 11 is less than 31? And therefore 11 divided by 31 is less than 1? I think I've got it...

  • Chris_P on June 24, 2013, 1:23 GMT

    @yorkshire-86. Yes! My point exactly. I am certain the media has been partly to blame with all this hype, but I have been staggered by the impractical series of circumstances that has seen him leap frog many more deserving aspirants.

    I think this result is neither here not there, let's remember guys, when the young lions toured Australia earlier this year, the returns were absolutely humiliating (0-5) & against sides who weren't among the best 12 in Australia, but the real measure of success is what players take away from their experience to use, constructively, for their country when the serious stuff happens.

    BTW F-F-L, can't recall your comments on those results, the silence......,,, somewhat deafening isn't it?

  • kc69 on June 24, 2013, 0:57 GMT

    Looking at Gloucestershire bowling lineup-One Aussie,One Saffa and a French guy..not bad at all..and Aus A have 2 Pakistani's.Looks like a multicultural match

  • bobagorof on June 23, 2013, 23:51 GMT

    A bit disappointing that Khawaja's innings was curtailed by the field, but he can take heart that he was not dismissed by the bowling attack in this match, which along with his fifty earlier on tour is a good sign. It's a shame that he seems to have no support from his captains or management outside of state level, being in and out of the side, shuffled up and down the order, and declared on when he's made a start. Good to see the pace bowlers get some overs under their belts after returning from injury. Agar is slowly bringing me around, too - I advocated letting him develop rather than rushing him into the Test side when he went to India, and since then he's performed quite consistently. He looks like he could be a star performer in a few years if he's handled well.

  • Mitty2 on June 23, 2013, 23:44 GMT

    I find it quite funny that we are getting criticised by the poms in a match that we would have won easily if it wasn't for that day 1, tea declaration - nevertheless that collapse against this Gildman with his FC bowling average of 21 was "abysmal" - and yet on the lions tour... What was it... 7-0? I think the lions even lost to Victoria second XI lol! The past dwindling talent in the shield is much improving and this shield season will quite obviously be better than the last, but still, if our "coveyor belt of talent" is so low, I do wonder what that makes the talent in England.

    Good to see bird and Harris take wickets, both coming off long lay offs. Bird with his phenomenal record is a must, and he is above both siddle and starc. So too is Harris, but for the sake of management, the pace trio must be alternated between him and siddle, with patto and bird being the certainties.

    Please, @FFL, I've read three articles on sayers already, with all comparing him to one terry alderman.

  • ToneMalone on June 23, 2013, 23:09 GMT

    Like most people, I haven't seen Ahmed bowl first hand so can't comment, but the reports of Matthew Wade being nonplussed keeping to spin are all to familiar. If he doesn't improve with the gloves fast, Australia need to groom up another keeper.

  • Dashgar on June 23, 2013, 22:25 GMT

    Isn't the idea of A tours to find out who is good enough. I'd say we've found one in Agar, probably another 2 in Sayers and Maddinson. So Fawad had a bad day. He can go to the Caribbean now and see if he can be ready for Australia (which will suit his legspin more). Brettig has had nothing good to say about Australia A all game.

  • milepost on June 23, 2013, 21:57 GMT

    It's alright@Nuxxy, I think you're right. Australia's batting selections have been terrible and we will lose the ashes unless that changes. There are good players around and England's bowling isn't near as hot as people say though Swan and Anderson are obviously going to be threatening. The others, not at all. Will be interesting,

  • yorkshire-86 on June 23, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    A 31 year old who had only played 11 games of cricket in his ENTIRE LIFE at the start of the summer? Thats less than one game of cricket a YEAR of his adult life. Surely that says something. Reminds me of that English bowler from a few years ago, Pattinson or something like that - he too was in his 30s yet had only played 11 games of cricket in his ENTIRE LIFE before getting picked at Headingly (and as expected, destroyed).

  • CricketingStargazer on June 23, 2013, 20:15 GMT

    It wasn't to be. To win Gloucs needed to get through the first hour without losing a wicket. When they failed to do so the writing was on the wall, although Australia A got an almighty scare against a side that didn't have a single player anywhere near contention for any of the muliple Development and "A" squads last winter. Very proud of the way the side recovered from a dreadful first day to get so close.

    This performance should give the side great heart for the second half of the season and the atempt to hang in there close to the promotion places. After the wooden spoon last season and being tipped to repeat it this season, that is a triumph in itself.

  • on June 23, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    after england lost EVERYTHING on their A tour of Aus, its funny how the poms thinks that AUS winning a game on their A tour means their national team is so poor, based on FFL logic AUS will end the double summer with 10 -0 thrashing of eng and the ashes to prove it, while i am not quite as confident as he is in ASU domination of eng i can see how an eng fan would be led to believe this after recent (and in fact all hostoric) performances by eng

  • ScottStevo on June 23, 2013, 18:45 GMT

    Ahmed was never going to be selected in a starting XI, and this is an A tour match of absolutely no relevance to the Ashes whatsoever. That we ALMOST lost - what a ridiculous comment considering we declared in our 1st innings - means nothing either. Especially since England's A team ACTUALLY lost every single game they played against such poor quality state teams, etc..

  • Donian on June 23, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    We (Aussies) get 111 in the second innings in a match we don't win comfortably and the headline and article focus is Fawad Ahmed not taking wickets?

  • Nuxxy on June 23, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    @milepost: Don't recruit me! I'm backing legspinners, not Australia. Think both Ashes are England's to lose. Australia has no batsmen.

  • Jaffa79 on June 23, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    Wade has to give the gloves up. He clearly has no clue when standing up to spinners and just needs to concentrate on his batting now.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on June 23, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    Lyon is the number one spinner and Agar and Ahmed are competing for a final position in the squad which is likely to be non-playing. I think it may be Agar for some experience around the squad while Ahmed is sent to SA for the two Aust A v S Africa A Tests prior to the Australian summer. A disappointing day yesterday for the batsmen but good to see Harris and Bird get back on the field. Saw Harris interviewed post match and he was pleased to actually have some overs and get good preparation .... he admitted some good stuff and some rubbish. Understandable for a first game. Despite the lack of runs from some hopefuls the A team have now won all three games. The England Lions got marmalised 5-0 in Australia recently and lost to Victoria & Victoria Country also. I believe a game against Victoria U12's was refused.

  • Chris_P on June 23, 2013, 16:46 GMT

    Not even the slightest bit surprised. He is not a world beater, he is not special yet the media hopped on the wagon to give this guy an undserved run in this side ahead of far more credentialled players. And they still persisted with him, giving him far more overs than the real future of the game in Agar. From all reports, Wade keeping was as atrocious as ever. Adam Zampa represents the future of Australian leg spinning, not some guy who never even cracked it back home & has put in 2 games before getting a call-up. What world is this?

  • milepost on June 23, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    Hey frontfootlunge as Nuxxy points out Warne got smashed in his first few matches - spinners do. The more you carry on about how rubbish Australia are the more confident I am becoming we will take it to England.

  • jmcilhinney on June 23, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    This game was obviously a bit of an experiment and Aus A did declare in the first innings, but I'm sure that they still be very disappointed to let the 12th best county in England get that close and their second innings was rather abysmal. This all but confirms too that Ahmed is not going to be an Ashes saviour. If he does play, which I'd say is unlikely, then Australia had better hope that Haddin stays healthy because Wade doesn't look up to keeping to a leggie.

  • Showbags88 on June 23, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    What needs to be remembered is Australia declared in the first innings at 4/331 so would of recorded a comfortable win had they batted on.

    Still it just shows the inconsistency around our whole Cricket setup atm and the basics not being properly adhered to. Plenty of young talent who look decent one innings then look terrible the next.

    Consistency often comes with experience though so hopefully these youngsters find that consistency. What has been pleasing though the last few years is the emergence of "pressure building" seamers like Sayers, Bird and Copeland. I thought we had forgotten all about the McGrath mantra of hitting the top of off.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on June 23, 2013, 16:08 GMT

    Given how Australia and their captain were, before this tour, completely humiliated by the Indian debacle and much else, not even back then do I think many could imagine they'd ever be in this state so close to the Ashes. Due to there being no one else, no other spinner good enough for an Ashes place, they are fast-tracking a bowler who has never come against good batting in his life. Today was no exception.Ahmed has indeed been given a dose of reality, but he is new to first-class cricket. And he's expected to be ready for test cricket now? After getting a smashing today, he doesn't seem ready at all. Meanwhile, the usual problems dogged Australia this match:Phil Hughes predictably failed twice in the match, a little-known medium bowler completely out-bowled Harris and Bird, who could not employ the tricks required to conqueror one of the weakest line ups in the league. More failures for Khawaja and Wade on top of this mean this is a disastrous leads up to the Ashes for Australia.

  • Nuxxy on June 23, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    1/150 0/78 3/118 0/40 Shane Warne's first 4 test matches. "Ahmed's best was eye-catching" is more than good enough. That's been one of Australia's problems with spinners since Warne: they have been looking for another Warne-at-his-peak, and not giving anyone a chance to grow into the role. The support of the captain is vital for a legspinner.

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  • Nuxxy on June 23, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    1/150 0/78 3/118 0/40 Shane Warne's first 4 test matches. "Ahmed's best was eye-catching" is more than good enough. That's been one of Australia's problems with spinners since Warne: they have been looking for another Warne-at-his-peak, and not giving anyone a chance to grow into the role. The support of the captain is vital for a legspinner.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on June 23, 2013, 16:08 GMT

    Given how Australia and their captain were, before this tour, completely humiliated by the Indian debacle and much else, not even back then do I think many could imagine they'd ever be in this state so close to the Ashes. Due to there being no one else, no other spinner good enough for an Ashes place, they are fast-tracking a bowler who has never come against good batting in his life. Today was no exception.Ahmed has indeed been given a dose of reality, but he is new to first-class cricket. And he's expected to be ready for test cricket now? After getting a smashing today, he doesn't seem ready at all. Meanwhile, the usual problems dogged Australia this match:Phil Hughes predictably failed twice in the match, a little-known medium bowler completely out-bowled Harris and Bird, who could not employ the tricks required to conqueror one of the weakest line ups in the league. More failures for Khawaja and Wade on top of this mean this is a disastrous leads up to the Ashes for Australia.

  • Showbags88 on June 23, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    What needs to be remembered is Australia declared in the first innings at 4/331 so would of recorded a comfortable win had they batted on.

    Still it just shows the inconsistency around our whole Cricket setup atm and the basics not being properly adhered to. Plenty of young talent who look decent one innings then look terrible the next.

    Consistency often comes with experience though so hopefully these youngsters find that consistency. What has been pleasing though the last few years is the emergence of "pressure building" seamers like Sayers, Bird and Copeland. I thought we had forgotten all about the McGrath mantra of hitting the top of off.

  • jmcilhinney on June 23, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    This game was obviously a bit of an experiment and Aus A did declare in the first innings, but I'm sure that they still be very disappointed to let the 12th best county in England get that close and their second innings was rather abysmal. This all but confirms too that Ahmed is not going to be an Ashes saviour. If he does play, which I'd say is unlikely, then Australia had better hope that Haddin stays healthy because Wade doesn't look up to keeping to a leggie.

  • milepost on June 23, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    Hey frontfootlunge as Nuxxy points out Warne got smashed in his first few matches - spinners do. The more you carry on about how rubbish Australia are the more confident I am becoming we will take it to England.

  • Chris_P on June 23, 2013, 16:46 GMT

    Not even the slightest bit surprised. He is not a world beater, he is not special yet the media hopped on the wagon to give this guy an undserved run in this side ahead of far more credentialled players. And they still persisted with him, giving him far more overs than the real future of the game in Agar. From all reports, Wade keeping was as atrocious as ever. Adam Zampa represents the future of Australian leg spinning, not some guy who never even cracked it back home & has put in 2 games before getting a call-up. What world is this?

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on June 23, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    Lyon is the number one spinner and Agar and Ahmed are competing for a final position in the squad which is likely to be non-playing. I think it may be Agar for some experience around the squad while Ahmed is sent to SA for the two Aust A v S Africa A Tests prior to the Australian summer. A disappointing day yesterday for the batsmen but good to see Harris and Bird get back on the field. Saw Harris interviewed post match and he was pleased to actually have some overs and get good preparation .... he admitted some good stuff and some rubbish. Understandable for a first game. Despite the lack of runs from some hopefuls the A team have now won all three games. The England Lions got marmalised 5-0 in Australia recently and lost to Victoria & Victoria Country also. I believe a game against Victoria U12's was refused.

  • Jaffa79 on June 23, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    Wade has to give the gloves up. He clearly has no clue when standing up to spinners and just needs to concentrate on his batting now.

  • Nuxxy on June 23, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    @milepost: Don't recruit me! I'm backing legspinners, not Australia. Think both Ashes are England's to lose. Australia has no batsmen.

  • Donian on June 23, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    We (Aussies) get 111 in the second innings in a match we don't win comfortably and the headline and article focus is Fawad Ahmed not taking wickets?