Australia turning to a Pakistani refugee to solve their spin crisis?
Citizenship for asylum seeker Fawad Ahmed, who's being hailed as best leg-spinner in Australia since since Warne and MacGill, being fast-tracked to get him baggy green
The answer to Australia's worrisome spin crisis and Ashes hopes depends on Federal Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor, with Pakistani refugee spinner Fawad Ahmed on the threshold of a fast-tracked baggy green.
Classy leg-spinner Ahmed has burst to prominence with brilliant performances for Victoria this season while the push from cricket greats and influential supporters to hand the leg-spinner a passport is in overdrive, News.com.au reports.
It has been revealed Minister O'Connor's office is currently flicking through Ahmed's file and his own rulebooks to see if the man who fled Osama bin Laden's former Abbottabad stronghold in 2010 can be advanced citizenship, the paper said.
An Australian passport guarantees immediate eligibility rather than qualifying after the Ashes on August 18 as per International Cricket Council rules.
Officials don't elaborate on individual cases but a spokeswoman for Minister O'Connor confirmed that Ahmed's application is currently being assessed, and they can say he is being looked at.
The Department of Immigration turned Ahmed from asylum seeker to permanent resident on January 29 and the process could be finished next month, the paper added.
A raft of foreign athletes capable of winning an Olympic medal has been granted special dispensation to represent Australia.
Cricket Australia (CA) must privately reinforce that Fawad, who has a degree in international relations, is a priceless commodity in Australia's bare spin cupboard.
Ahmed's match-haul of 7-162 for the Bushrangers against Queensland last week were the best by a debutant Sheffield Shield spinner in 40 years and heaven sent for national selectors facing defeat against India and consecutive Ashes showdowns with England, the paper reported.
Even former South African spinner Johan Botha rates Ahmed the missing link in Australia's plot to regain the Ashes and No.1 Test ranking.
The 31-year-old wrist spinner's chances for a quick citizenchipreceived a boost with India savaging Australia by eight-wicket in the first-Test triumph in Chennai.
Australia's first choice spinner, offie Nathan Lyon conceded 3/215 in India's first innings while left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty wasn't selected despite a MA Chidambaram Stadium's turning track.