Fast Fawad: what us Poms think of Fawad Ahmed and his Australian visa

The term ‘mystery spinner’ conjures up all sorts of problems in an Englishman’s mind. There’s Shane Warne’s famous Gatting-ball; there’s Paul Adams doing his frog-in-a-blender impression; there’s Murali’s unplayable doosra; and then there’s the biggest conundrum of all: thousands don’t understand how the hell Johan Botha gets away with that action.

However, us Poms reckon the Aussies have really pushed the envelope on this one – an envelope containing a fast-tracked visa application, of course.

To most England fans, Fawad Ahmed is a total and utter mystery. Until recently we hadn’t even heard of the bloke, let alone seen him bowl. Now we hear he’s being groomed for a key role in the Ashes. Is this a cunning plan, or just plain desperation?

A quick perusal of Fawad’s stats on cricinfo reveals he’s 31 years old and has played just 14 first class games. Now I’ve heard of late developers, but this one takes the biscuit.

‘But he’s got an amazing life-story’ I hear you say. ‘His personal circumstances robbed him of the best years of his career’. Err, did they? If he was so remarkable in his youth, surely he would’ve torn up trees in Pakistan’s domestic tournaments? And the personal threats against his wellbeing would’ve come from illegal bookmakers, not the Taliban.

Of course, it doesn’t really matter what he did (or didn’t) do in his twenties; it’s how good he is now that really matters. To be lined up for the Ashes squad after just a handful of games for Victoria means he must be something pretty special, right?

Wrong. Fawad has taken just 40 first class wickets at an average of 33. He has taken five wickets in an innings just twice, and failed to take a wicket against the mighty Ireland the other day.

Is that English bottom lips I hear trembling in the distance? No, it’s raucous cackling I’m afraid. Fawad’s first class average is worse than Ian Salisbury’s (literally).

Because we’re a neurotic bunch in England – we’re still scarred by memories of Matthew Elliott and Greg Blewett carving up English bowlers who weren’t fit to be called pie chuckers in the 1990s – we don’t want to jinx this too much:

If we say Fawad will have absolutely no impact and become as much of a liability as Mitchell Johnson – who, interestingly enough, was Australia’s best bowler by miles in the Champions Trophy – he’s sure to take fifty wickets in five tests and win the Ashes singlehandedly. However, you can’t blame us for being a tad cynical.

Yes, we know Nathan Lyon isn’t exactly the second coming of Tim May. Yes, we know Steve Smith’s legspin has gone backwards faster than the Wallabies’ scrum is likely to retreat in the test series against The Lions. But is this 31 year old asylum seeker really the best you can do?

Not long ago the Biltong Munchers claimed a Pakistani legspinner as their own. They declared he was the missing ingredient – a man with magic in his fingers who could ruin batsmens’ careers with a mere flick of his wrist. His name was Imran Tahir. He was crap.

Imran Tahir has taken 673 first class wickets at an average of 26. He has taken 5 wickets in an innings 47 times. Fawad Ahmed has a touching life story, but he would kill for career statistics like that.

James Morgan


  • It shows the desperation that Australia have to include this guy. Great story but surely he cant come in and make any sort of impact.

  • In no way whatsoever, anywhere, does this article criticise Ahmed for fleeing Pakistan. It only comments on his first class record. We have every sympathy for Fawad and his personal circumstances. However, as the article says, his personal story should not disguise his credentials as a cricketer – which is what this post is all about. I hope this clears up any confusion.

    If you replace the words ‘asylum seeker’ with ‘Pakistani’, ‘leg-spinner’, ‘Victorian’ or any other word, and re-read the sentence, you will see that the sentence structure in no way implied anything negative. It’s important to make this clear.

  • That sentence is clearly intended as an insult. In the context of that sentence, “31 year old” is used to described an undesirable quality of Fawad. Ditto “asylum seeker”.

    • Thanks for your support Jahingir.

      James – the phrase, while not insulting in and of itself, is upsetting in the manner used: in the same way Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s description of Malcolm Rifkind as “the Jew Rifkind” was offensive. Both were unnecessary.

      • Please Jawad, it is totally different. The phrase the ‘Jew Riftkind’ relates to race / nationality in an offensive way (presumably … I haven’t read the newspapers this week). It implies, surely, that Riftkind has some kind of Zionist agenda? I don’t see how criticising a cricketer’s ability and potential, because he hasn’t played much first cricket due to no fault of his own, in a jokey way is the same.

  • It depends entirely how you want to read it. We are from a country with a track record of welcoming asylum seekers with open arms. The make up of the English team itself is cosmopolitan.

    If there is any negative contained within the sentence it is in a cricketing sense i.e. ‘a 31 year old who has missed the majority of his career due to political problems the best you can do?’. The word asylum seeker is not, in itself, an insult. It is a descriptive term. And even if you read it as an insult in a cricketing sense, what exactly is wrong with that? It is surely a negative that any player, wherever he is from, has missed the majority of his career due to persecution, injury, jail etc. There is nothing a writer can do to remove all negative connotations if people see fit to focus on them.

    This is a light-hearted article poking fun at the Aussies. It was also published by an Australian cricket blog who took it for what it was intended to be: a harmless bit of banter. It in no way insults Fawad’s religion, ethnicity, or background. Maybe there is a cultural divide here, but we also make fun of ourselves on this blog. You’ll notice that the title of the article contains the word ‘Pom’: a derogatory word for Englishman. It’s the nature of light hearted entertainment, and the world would be a dull place if political correctness was taken to extremes.

  • Could we all start spelling PEJORATIVE correctly, please? I agree with James by the way.

  • My apologies – my Urdu is a lot better than my English!

    James – what does Fawad’s status as an asylum seeker have to do with his cricketing ability? Nothing whatsoever. It is most unfair to bring that into your personal attack on him.

    • It says that he hasn’t played much first class cricket, which directly affects his ability as a player and his cricketing experience. That’s the whole point! If the article had said ‘this 16 year old Frenchman’ would that be construed as an attack on teenagers and France?! No, it’s just a shorter way of saying the bloke doesn’t have much experience and he’s from an obscure background (because not many Frenchmen play cricket). This really is a storm in a teacup; no offence to storms, or teacups, meant by the way.

  • So basically because English is not my first language, and I make a few spelling mistakes, I am not welcome here? I see.

    • Jawad, you are more than welcome here. It’s good to hear a diverse range of views. However, political correctness is quite an issue in our society (as I’m sure you know) and as a blog we need to be sensitive to such issues, and that includes defending ourselves when our posts are misconstrued. We really meant no offence, and are sorry if you felt insulted. Let’s move on.

    • You might if it was the reason he hadn’t been able to play cricket until he was 31!

  • To defend James, it is a fact that he is trying to get an Australian passport and does not possess one. I don’t see anywhere in this article where his asylum status is stated in a negative way and it highlights the slightly bizarre situation that Australia are trying to fast track a player into the team with limited experience who is not eligible. Its irrelevant where the player is from but it is a great story and hope the guy has a happy life in Australia. Don’t have a go at James for stating facts on a website that specialises in tongue in cheek articles.

  • Some of you need to stop looking for insults where there aren’t any. He’s an asylum seeker…fact. That is the reason why he is qualifying to play for Australia and is the point of the article. It is not said in a derogatory way at all and any rational person can see that.

    He is 31…fact. It is not being written to highlight an ‘undesirable quality’ but to indicate a late age to start a career as a professional sportsman.

    Get off your high horses and stop looking for prejudice where there isn’t any.


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