Pakistani refugee may play Test cricket for Australia

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 22, 2013 10:28 hrs

Pakistani refugee and new Victorian leg spinning hero, Fawad Ahmed is closing on winning his debut baggy green following consistent impressive performances in Australia's domestic cricket.

Ahmed spun the Bushrangers to victory with five historic wickets at the MCG on Friday, then beamed as two of Australia's leading cricketers said he was good enough to effectively be a walk-up selection for the national team when he becomes eligible, reports.

Victorian captain Cameron White said he thinks when Ahmed is qualified, he'll probably play for Australia pretty quickly after the Pak refugee 5-83 set up Victoria's Sheffield Shield win over Queensland at the MCG.

White added it is pretty simple, he's one of the better, if not the best leg-spinners he has seen in first-class cricket outside Stuart MacGill and Shane Warne.

Bulls captain James Hopes, one of Ahmed's victims, said he was exceptional.

Asked whether Ahmed would hold his own in a baggy green, Hopes had no hesitation, saying definitely, and he is a match winner.

Ahmed, who'd played 10 first-class games from 2005-09, fled persecution and death threats in his homeland in February 2010 after religious extremists accused him of promoting Western values for pursuing the sport he loved, as player and coach, and for supporting organisations that promoted female education.

Both Cricket Victoria and Cricket Australia backed his bid for permanent residency, which came through in November, but under wordy ICC rules he's likely to remain ineligible for national honours until February next year, the paper said.

But a clearly excited Ahmed said a plan to have fast-tracked citizenship, most often used for potential Olympic athletes, was in train, which would enable him to play for Australia immediately it was granted, potentially before the twin Ashes series later this year, the paper added.

Ahmed said playing in the Ashes would be a dream come true for him, adding he is delighted with the process.

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