Sydney: Cricket Australia (CA), who is facing a dearth of world-class spin bowlers, is desperately trying to convince country`s immigration minister to fast-track Pakistani refugee Fawad Ahmed`s citizenship in order to utilize the glorified leg-spinner for this year`s Ashes series.
Under International Cricket Council rules, Ahmed will become eligible to represent his adopted country from August 18 between the fourth and fifth Ashes Tests or upon receipt of Australian citizenship.
Such is the level of enthusiasm for Ahmed`s leg-spin, and so desperate is the spin situation exposed in India, that CA is working hard to convince Immigration Minister Brendan O`Connor to grant the Pakistan-born refugee`s citizenship before the series in England.
Ahmed`s hopes of being eligible for this winter`s Ashes could rest on a precedent created by Tennis Australia, which successfully lobbied for European-raised players to be fast-tracked to Australian citizenship.
Anastasia Rodionova and Jarmila Gajdosova benefited from changes to the Citizenship Act in 2009 to speed up the process for elite athletes who have the backing of a peak organisation such as TA or the Australian Olympic Committee.
Cricket is not among the sports listed in the act, but it`s understood Cricket Australia will follow the lead of tennis, which argued for legislative change and was included alongside the Olympics and Paralympics for consideration.
Former Test leg-spinner Stuart McGill has offered to work with Ahmed now that his season with Victoria and Melbourne University has finished. Ahmed`s off-season options are limited because any day spent out of the country delays his ICC eligibility date by a day.
First Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013, 14:33