Sydney: Pakistani cricketer Fawad Ahmed, who now plays in Australia, has said he was threatened by religious extremists back home for playing and coaching the sport he loves.
Ahmed lived in Swabi, a city of about one million people in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, near the Afghanistan border. He graduated from Peshawar University with a master``s degree in international relations and political science.
Ahmed, 30, is seeking asylum in Australia, awaiting a decision on his claim for protection.
“I got death threats from them. They say I am promoting a Western culture and bringing kids out of their homes for recreational activity and if you continue this it might be really difficult for you,” he said.
“I quit coaching, but I got [picked] for [first-class] cricket and the matches were all around Pakistan. When I started performing, they said, ‘You are still involved with cricket and promoting Western culture. If you come back to home, or wherever you are, we will find you.’ I am happy that I am a good Muslim. I am doing nothing contrary to Islam.
“I am playing here for the last two years and I am still praying and I never drank alcohol. There is nothing contradictory with Islam and playing cricket,” Ahmed said.
Seeking asylum in Australia, Ahmed has a bridging visa and will represent Melbourne University Cricket Club in Premier cricket next summer, having last season broken a Victorian Turf Cricket Association record with 58 wickets at an average of 11 for Hoppers Crossing, including eight five-wicket hauls.
Simon Helmot, coach of Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League and of Victoria``s one-day team, has often enlisted Ahmed as a net bowler.
In Melbourne, Ahmed makes a modest living and he is planning a big first season in Premier cricket.