Ashes 2013: This is now a crisis for Australia. We need Fawad Ahmed to answer the SOS call

The Aussie Angle: Ahmed claimed four wickets in each innings for Australia A

Steve Smith and Ashton Agar were promoted into the Test team from outside the initial Ashes squad so it would come as little surprise if Australia were to do the same thing at Old Trafford.

The team needs an infusion of talent, toughness and ticker but a tweak may be the best Australia can manage as they prepare to send out an SOS before the third Test.

Having persuaded the Australian government to introduce legislation fast-tracking Fawad Ahmed’s application for citizenship, it would be churlish for Australia not to pick him in their hour of greatest need.

Australia’s quest to regain the Ashes is becoming more ragged by the session. But as the prominent Australian football coach Mick Malthouse is wont to say, the Chinese term for crisis is the same as the one for opportunity. In Australia’s crisis could come Ahmed’s opportunity.

Usman Khawaja showed at Lord’s yesterday that the high hopes placed in him over the past two years have some chance of being fulfilled, and Ahmed could follow in his footsteps.

Indeed, Ahmed may be Australia’s best prospect of getting back into the Ashes.

He had a bowl-off with Agar at Bristol last month after the Australian selectors decided that off-spinner Nathan Lyon was not going to provide the impact required on pitches likely to be as arid as any in world cricket. Agar won the battle of Bristol but it may be that Ahmed wins the war.

That Australia A versus Gloucestershire game was played in icy conditions in which the two rivals only reluctantly retrieved their fingers from their pockets when called into action.

Agar showed enough in his match load of 11 overs to get the nod at Trent Bridge, where his arrival as Test cricket’s most successful No 11 understandably overshadowed his bowling contribution.

The teenager made a promising start but still has a significant way to go to become an effective spinner at elite level. His character and temperament have shone in the cauldron of Test cricket but it is the technical element of his bowling that warrants scrutiny.

A tall left-armer in the mould of New Zealand’s great spinner Daniel Vettori, whose beguiling loop, dip and drift are the products of a ferocious action that uncoils like a whip, Agar does not generate the same levels of energy.

Agar’s front foot plants but does not pivot, he bowls around his front leg as much as over it and he does not follow through with the quivering power of a spring coming to rest.

Yet technical flaws can be eradicated with time and toil and Agar has the three greatest attributes any spinner needs to succeed – he spins the ball hard, he has the imagination to create wicket-taking opportunities and he has the equilibrium to avoid getting flustered under attack.

All this and he is still 19! Whether Agar plays at Old Trafford next week may depend as much on the niggling hip flexor strain he picked up at Lord’s as an assessment of his state of mind after two Tests and the weight of becoming a genuine overnight sensation.

Ahmed is with Australia A in Africa and could hardly have scripted a better time to claim four wickets in each innings in the opening match of the tour.

Under his residency qualification, Ahmed would not have been eligible to play for Australia until 18 August this year.

Could the Act of Parliament that brought that day forward by a month or so be the most significant decision made this series?

In a summer when Australia’s application of DRS has been pilloried, the back room marked by blood-letting and back-stabbing, with bar-room shenanigans tarnishing the on-field  feats, it is a relief to know that at least one off-field decision-making process may benefit the team.

John Townsend is Cricket Writer for The West Australian

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor