Fawad Ahmed and Australian spin belief

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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.

What’s newsworthy?

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.


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  1. Zola Budd?

    On the subject of interpretting bowling figures:

    7 for 30 = great bowling by the man
    7 for 170 = crap bowling by his teammates

  2. Fast-tracked citizenship or no, surely the ICC rules mean that he needs to play senior level cricket in Oz for at least four years to qualify for a baggy green – so if he fled Pakistan in 2010 that means he would not qualify in time for the next couple of Ashes series.

    Or can the Aussie government fast track through he ICC rules also?

    Make no mistake, Fahwad Ahmed is a spin bowler of some substance. Far and away the best former-Pakistani refugee spinner ever to play State Cricket in Australia.

    1. The Sydney Daily Telegraph:

      “Under wordy ICC rules he’s likely to remain ineligible for national honours until February next year.
      “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.”

      They really are desperate, aren’t they?

      Even in the doldrums of the 1990s, I don’t recall England trying to “fast-track” the likes of Graeme Hick.

    2. They did actually quote Cameron White. But yeah, the media coverage is a bit OTT.

      For example, this kind of thing is just music to English ears:

      ‘The answer to Australia’s spin crisis and Ashes hopes hinges on Federal Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor, with refugee spinner Fawad Ahmed on the verge of a fast-tracked baggy green.’


    3. It’s in the same way a story in The Sun is music to an Australian’s ears though.

    4. “Under wordy ICC rules…”

      So when can he play?

      Dunno, have you read the ICC rules?

      Here they are, let’s have a go – Should a player who is not a national of that country but who has been granted residency in that country… Jeez, I’m not reading all of this, there’s more than six lines of it!

      OK, put February then. Who’s gonna know?

  3. They are looking to construct a fairy tale. Might well happen, who knows? I saw a youtube video of Fawaz, and he comes across a nice fellow. So good luck to him.

    Australia seem to want to make all spin decisions before/during a tour to the sub-continent. So they pick some guy who duly gets plastered by Sehwag and co. This makes him appear worse than he actually is, and instead of giving him an extended run, they rinse and repeat. They should take a good, long look at these figures:
    45-7-150-1 – that was Warne’s debut against India. It would’ve been worse if it was in India. Much worse.

  4. He bowls to the left…

    He bowls to the right…

    That Fawad Ahmed…

    He’s not yet qualified to play international cricket for Australia

  5. Having no top class domestic spinner so assuming that an ex-Pakistani must be the answer to their prayers is working out well for South Africa.

    1. And Tahir has a cracking first-class record. We were going to go into that in the article but then decided it was already too long and too boring.

    2. I realise I am being caddishly unjust to Tahir by the comparison and for that matter to South Africa. They’ve more decided as they are the best team in the world they really ought to find a decent spinner, rather than the Aussies who, on pretty flimsy evidence,feel that they have a God given right to one. However I do feel that Tahir’s importedness has given a him cachet that other out of their depth players would lack.

  6. I struggle to see what is so awful about Nathan Lyon too, he has a test average of 33 and he is 25. Are those numbers really so terrible given that Aussie pitches tend not to suit spinners?

    1. I think the same way, Lyon deserves his chance, but he’s not getting it as he’s been dropped in this Test for Xavier Bloody Doherty.

    2. This is exactly it. They believe that there’s something better out there, despite there being no evidence whatsoever that that’s the case.

    3. People always get better when they aren’t in the team, didn’t you know?

      Michael Beer will be back soon. Or Steve O’Keefe will get picked.

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