Spinner Fawad Ahmed clear to represent Australia in Ashes after receiving full citizenship

 

Spinner Fawad Ahmed admits he could not have dreamt of the chance to represent Australia in the Ashes when he fled from Pakistan.

The 31-year-old today received full citizenship, pending the formality of a citizenship ceremony, and will now have the opportunity to challenge off-spinner Nathan Lyon for a place in the series against England.

Ahmed, who fled Pakistan because of persecution from religious groups and sought asylum, is currently a part of the Australia A squad.

He told 5 Live Breakfast: "It's amazing, beyond my imagination and my dreams.

"I just came here for a safe life and to be an ordinary person and never even imagined I was going to one day play for Australia.

"I'm already with Australia A and hopefully in the near future I can represent Australia too, it will be a dream moment for me. It's unbelievable."

On his Ashes chances, he added: "I'm not sure at the moment. I'm really concentrating on the Australia A tour, it's a great opportunity for me to prove my skills.

"I need to perform well on that tour. It's a great country, they respect talent and there will definitely be a chance for me, if I'm performing well, to represent Australia maybe sooner or later."

 



Ahmed toured England with the second string this summer, taking two wickets against Ireland and Gloucestershire, and they are are about to embark on tours of Zimbabwe and South Africa with a three-day game in Harare due to begin on July 18.

Ahmed reflected on the difficulties he faced in his homeland and expressed his gratitude for the welcome he has received in Australia.

"It was a tough time, a really hard chapter for me in the last four years," he said.

"It was definitely a tough time and a strange country for me but people love me here, they warmly welcomed me and gave me a lot of respect and honour and dignity.

"I'm really pleased and happy to be an Australian citizen now, I am so excited."

Ahmed was reportedly threatened by extremists in north-west Pakistan who accused him of promoting western values and supporting organisations that promoted the education of women and girls.

His family still live in the area and he spoke of his fear and bewilderment at the issues affecting the country.

"I'm not sure who they are, those people," he said. "We consider them terrorists - from whatever background, ethnicity, nationality, whatever religion they are, they are terrorists.

"It's bad. I'm really sad, the situation is going from bad to worse.

"Because my family, friends and relatives are still there, I'm really worried about them and hopefully peace and prosperity will come soon and the whole nation can live a safe life as we were 10 years ago.

"Nobody knows what's happening there, in the last couple of weeks there have been so many bomb blasts, suicide bomb blasts, target killings.

"I don't know who they are, why they are killing innocent people, they are just terrorising the whole country. They are paralysing everything, damaging the infrastructure and everything.

"I can't understand the destruction, this is really sad for me.

"I'm happy I'm safe, really happy here. This is my country now, Australia, I love this country and they give me respect and honour.

"But my family's there, I'm especially worried about my family."

PA

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