Sydney: Pakistani asylum-seeker Fawad Ahmed has signed to play with Australian state side Victoria for the next three seasons, Cricket Victoria said on Friday. Leg-spinner Ahmed, who could be in contention to play for Australia in the Ashes series in England in July if he is granted citizenship on time, was named in Victoria's squad for the next Australian season.
"Fawad Ahmed was the success story from last year and we're extremely happy to have signed him for the next three seasons," Victoria coach Greg Shipperd said in a statement.
The 31-year-old leg-spinner was handed a permanent visa to remain in Australia in November after leaving his home in the border region near Afghanistan, where he said he was targeted by Muslim extremists. But to play for Australia in the Ashes from July he needs fast-tracked citizenship and an Australian passport.
Otherwise, under International Cricket Council rules, he will not become available until August 18, before the fifth Test at the Oval.
Ahmed played three Sheffield Shield games for Victoria late last season and took 16 wickets at 28.37, bringing him to the notice of Australian selectors given a dearth of spin bowlers of Test quality.
"Fawad Ahmed is a mature and very good leg-spinner," chairman of selectors John Inverarity said last month. I've seen quite a bit of him and all those who have played against him, and the coaching staff, rate him as a good bowler. He would certainly come under consideration. It will all be considered on merit. He will be treated no differently from anybody else."
Of his chances of playing for Australia, Ahmed told reporters last month: "Playing Test cricket is the dream for any single cricketer -- very, very exciting.
"Like a dream, especially playing for Australia in an Ashes against England. That would be a dream for me and would be amazing. I just only can imagine."
Cricket Victoria also announced on Friday that former Australian all-rounder Dan Christian would be playing for Victoria from next season.