Test hopeful Fawad Ahmed ''comfortable'' with Australian drinking
Boozy celebrations have been a part of Australian cricket for decades but test hopeful Fawad Ahmed will be politely declining when the victory beers are passed around on the tour of the Caribbean and England.
The 33-year-old legspinner has plenty of reasons to celebrate, having helped Victoria win the domestic Sheffield Shield last week and earned a place in the test squad for the first time.
However, as a devout Muslim, Pakistan-born Fawad has been quiet but firm about his abstinence from alcohol.
His request to bowl for Australia without a beer sponsor`s logo on his outfit was granted when he made his 2013 debut in one-day and T20 cricket in England, though it generated heated debate back home.
Newly crowned world champions, Australia`s one-day team partied hard after defeating New Zealand and the test side can be expected to enjoy at least some success against eighth-ranked West Indies in the two-match series starting June.
Fawad said he and his Victoria team mate Peter Siddle, also selected for the tour, could share a non-drinking moment of joy while others imbibe.
"That`s their culture, that`s their tradition, I knew that before I was coming to Australia and I`m more comfortable with that," he told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.
"This is good the way they are enjoying and celebrating.
"I`ve been around in the system for five years and I would say Peter Siddle is not drinking as well. You could say he`s my partner now. I`m really glad he`s on the tour as well and he`s had some good spells (for Victoria)."
Granted permanent residency in Australia in 2012 and citizenship a year later, former refugee Fawad took a wicket in each of his first three ODIs in England in 2013, but went off the selectors` radar for much of the next two years.
Victoria`s resurgence under captain Matthew Wade in the 2014/15 season proved a timely boost and Fawad finished the domestic season top wicket-taker with 48 scalps at an average of 24.85, outshining Australia`s ranks of quality fast bowlers on local pitches that rarely turn.
Fawad said he had to take a step back after his Australia debut came in a rush and easing the pressure on himself had paid dividends.
"I changed my mind, I took the pressure off and I wasn`t looking to play for Australia so soon, rather playing more for Victoria and performing at Shield level, that was the most important thing for me," he said.
"This time it will be different and better."