If you don’t know who Fawad Ahmed is, he’s a Pakistani refugee who’s looking to get an Australian passport and he also bowls a bit of spin in his spare time.
Now, before we continue, let us be clear that Fawad Ahmed might well be an excellent bowler. He might well be the spinner Australia have been desperately looking for these last few years. However, we don’t know that because we haven’t seen him bowl. Few people have.
In fact, what strikes us most about the column inches being devoted to Fawad Ahmed is that they even exist in the first place. He made his debut for Victoria last week and took 7-162. Those are respectable figures, but not jaw-dropping. If they were combined with something more, he might warrant the attention.
But there isn’t anything more. He’s played 11 first-class matches in his life and averages 32.13. Some people who’ve seen him bowl like the cut of his gib, but that’s about it. It’s hard to avoid the feeling that he’s only getting this attention because there’s some sort of a vacuum and he just happens to be best-placed to fill it.
So what is this vacuum?
The vacuum being filled is obviously the one left by Shane Warne and to a lesser extent Stuart MacGill. It’s the blindingly good Australian spinner vacuum.
The thing is, this vacuum is in people’s heads – Australian people’s heads, primarily. The vacuum qualities don’t apply in real life.
In Australian heads, a blindingly good Australian spinner exits stage left and another one immediately materialises to fill the gap – all you have to do is find them.
However, in reality, this doesn’t happen. In reality, a blindingly good spinner exits and then you no longer have a blindingly good spinner. They’ve gone. The place in the team gets filled, but that’s something entirely different.
Does this really happen?
Yes, we’re seeing it time and time again. Australians simply cannot accept that their best spinner could ever be mediocre. They believe that somewhere out there, a blindingly good Australian spinner is plying his trade and all they have to do is track him down. They’re looking for The One.
Stop looking. He doesn’t exist.
Despite the rapid turnover in the Test team, Australia have actually found a few competent spinners who have done a reasonable job in recent years. That level of performance doesn’t take the breath away, but maybe, just maybe, it’s as good as it’s going to get for the time being. Maybe constant dissatisfaction and a predilection for looking elsewhere is undermining players who truly are the best available.
It’s about having realistic expectations. If you’re not satisfied with the answers you’re getting, maybe you should stop asking stupid, childish questions and face reality for once.
On the other hand, Cameron White thinks Fawad Ahmed looks half-decent. If anyone should be able to spot a crap Aussie leg-spinner, it’s White.