Fawad Ahmed named in Australia ODI squad
Fawad Ahmed is expected to make his long-awaited debut for Australia during the limited-overs series that follows the Ashes after being named in an 18-man squad at the expense of Xavier Doherty. Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood has also been included and should play his first ODI in three years, while Doherty and the allrounder Mitchell Marsh were the only players dropped from the squad that contested the Champions Trophy in June.
The most fascinating inclusion is that of Ahmed, a legspinner who arrived in Australia in 2010 as an asylum seeker from Pakistan, where he had played ten first-class games over four years. Ahmed impressed for Victoria during the 2012-13 season and his Australian citizenship was fast-tracked this year in an effort to make him available for the Ashes, although he was ultimately not chosen in the Test squad.
But Australia's selectors remain keen on Ahmed as an international option and have been impressed by his bowling during the ongoing Australia A tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa. Although Ahmed has collected only two wickets in the five one-day games on the tour, the selectors believe he has bowled better than his figures indicate, and he will be the lead spinner alongside allrounder Glenn Maxwell in the limited-overs games in England.
"Fawad Ahmed gets his opportunity as the squad's lead spinner," the national selector John Inverarity said. "Fawad has been a consistent wicket-taker on the Australia A tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa. He is a mature and very good leg-spin bowler, and the national selection panel is keen to see how he fares in international competition ... He has been bowling very well in South Africa and turning the ball and troubling the batsmen so we're keen to have a look at him.
"He takes Xavier Doherty's place. Xavier has been a fine performer for Australia over the years. We haven't selected the side for India, for the seven ODIs there in October, but it's likely that both players will be on that tour. He [Doherty] is very much a known quantity and he's a wonderful young man and a very good cricketer. He can be hopeful that further opportunities will come his way."
The 18-man squad will gather for the two Twenty20s against England that follow the Ashes and the group will then be trimmed to 15 for the one-off ODI against Scotland and five against England in September. While Mitchell Marsh was replaced by Steven Smith after having limited impact in the Champions Trophy, his brother Shaun was included and is likely to play in the T20s, but whether he remains part of the squad for the ODIs is unclear.
The same can be said of Aaron Finch, who has been captain of Australia A during the African tour, while the rest of the batting line-up was largely as expected. However, there was no place for Nic Maddinson, the young New South Wales batsman who has played a number of eye-catching innings for Australia A in the British Isles and Africa over the past couple of months, including a remarkable 181 from 143 balls against Gloucestershire in Bristol.
"While he hasn't been selected in this squad, the national selection panel also notes the strong performances of Nic Maddinson in recent months for Australia A," Inverarity said. "We look forward to him continuing to build on that good form and pressing his claims for higher honours in the future."
The pace attack will be led by the experienced Mitchell Johnson and Clint McKay, but also features younger talent including Nathan Coulter-Nile, who made his T20 international debut in February, and Hazlewood, who also reappeared in the national side via February's T20 against West Indies. Hazlewood, 22, made his ODI debut in England in 2010 but has always been regarded by the selectors as a player to watch.
"We're looking forward to him showing his wares in international cricket again," Inverarity said. "He made his debut for Australia in 2010 at the age of 19. Three years later he's a stronger young man and a better bowler. He has been very impressive with his form in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
"I've been talking with Andy Bichel, who's the selector on duty in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and Josh has been very impressive, has bowled with good pace and good accuracy and has been moving the ball. I think it's the right time for him to come through and join the international squad."
Squad Michael Clarke (ODI capt), George Bailey (T20 capt), Fawad Ahmed, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Phillip Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Adam Voges, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner, Shane Watson.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here