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Pak-born Ahmed a step closer to playing Ashes following changes in Oz Citizenship Act

Sydney: Pakistan-born leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed may get his Australian passport in time to play in the Ashes, after changes in citizenship law were passed in the lower house.

The draft laws that will fast track citizenship in special circumstances were cleared in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

According to the Age, the move will give the Immigration Minister power to apply shorter residential requirements on some citizenship applicants.

This will cover exceptional circumstances such as elite athletes with the potential to represent Australia, as in Ahmed`s case.

Ahmed, who is considered the best spinner in Australia, played first-class cricket in Pakistan before fleeing to Australia in 2010 where, after an initial rejection, he was granted asylum.

The 31-year-old played for Melbourne University and broke into the Victorian team last season.

However, under existing rules he couldn`t be granted an Australian passport in time for the Ashes.

He was excluded from Australia`s initial 16-man Ashes squad, but chief selector John Inverarity has said he remains in contention for a late call-up if granted citizenship in time.

Australian Citizenship Amendment (Special Residence Requirements) Bill 2013 will go the Senate in a fortnight and is expected to pass parliament in time for Ahmed to receive his passport.

The Ashes begin in England on July 10.


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