Pakistan-born leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed was named an Australian citizen on Tuesday,clearing the final procedural hurdle for his selection for the Ashes series against England starting on July 10.
Former Federal Minister for Immigration Brendan O’Connor made the announcement within a fortnight of the Australian Senate passing legislation to fast-track citizenship in special cases.
“It’s a long journey and it was a long struggle,” said Ahmed,who arrived in Australia on a short-term visa in 2010 and claimed asylum on the grounds of receiving death threats from Islamic extremists for being involved with a Pakistani NGO promoting women’s rights.
“I just can’t wait to be a citizen. Especially in the field of cricket,I just want to give back something to this country,” added the 31-year-old,who Australia hope can fill the huge void left by Shane Warne.
Australia have tried a dozen slow bowlers with little success since spin great Warne retired with a test haul of 708 wickets after helping the team whitewash England 5-0 in the 2006-07 Ashes series.
England have won both series since and Australia included just one spinner,Nathan Lyon,in their squad as they renew the rivalry with the first test in Nottingham next week.
Ahmed said his immediate goal was to do well for Australia A in Zimbabwe and South Africa without bothering about a much-anticipated Ashes selection.
“I will try my best to perform well in those two tours and it depends on the selections,” said the spinner,who has 41 wickets from 15 first class matches.
“It will be an honour to represent Australia in the Ashes or maybe other tournaments.”