Inverarity hints at positive Ashes chance for `refugee` Ahmed

Sydney: Australia`s chairman of selectors John Inverarity has reportedly hinted that Pakistan-born leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed could yet be called into the Ashes squad.

The chances of Ahmed featuring in the Ashes improved dramatically when a bill to amend the Citizenship Act, which will help fast-track his application, passed through Australia`s lower house of parliament earlier this month.

Cricket Australia ( CA) also said that if the bill became law, and Ahmed, who played three domestic Sheffield Shield games for Victoria late last season and took 16 wickets at 28.37, obtains citizenship and an Australian passport, he would immediately be available for the national side.

Hinting at a probable selection of Ahmed for the five-Test series, Inverarity said that it is likely that Ahmed`s passport will be through in time for him to be considered for the squad, following which he will be considered for selection.

Praising Ahmed as a `fine young man`, Inverarity further said that the former asylum-seeker has handled himself very well despite his struggles, adding that he is also a very good leg-spin bowler, adding that Ahmed could even be called up for the full side`s Ashes warm-up games against Somerset and Worcestershire.

Although Australian cricket has faced accusations of insularity in the past but Inverarity said that the prospect of Ahmed playing in the Ashes had been broadly welcomed by the country`s cricket fans, adding that it is important for the Australian community to have such sort of integration.

However, Inverarity played down talk of Ahmed featuring in next month`s first Test at Trent Bridge, the opening match of Australia`s bid to regain the Ashes from England, saying this would subject him to `extraordinary` pressure, given his unusual circumstances.

Inverarity further said that as a unit, they needed need to protect him as much as they can from those distractions.

Australia currently have only one specialist spinner in their Ashes squad in off-break bowler Nathan Lyon.