Rehan Ahmed says playing for the Ashes this summer would be a dream, but something he can handle after flourishing in cricket’s most intense format.
‘I still dream about it, but at the same time I take each day as it comes. If I play, I play, if not, I don’t play,” reveals Ahmed, about the prospect of facing the Australians.
“The thing is, with England cricket, if I don’t play, I love to watch it, so when I was 12th man in Pakistan, it wasn’t just me who was 12th man, it was me watching England cricket. England live and it was like the best day of my life.’
Ahmed did a lot more than wear a fluorescent bib in Pakistan, of course. Three months ago today, he celebrated becoming England’s youngest Test cricketer by seeing off fourth-wicket pairing Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel for half a century, either side of the removal of Mohammad Rizwan, on his way to a five-wicket debut haul.
After sinking Pakistan’s second innings of 164 for three to 216 in Karachi, England captain Ben Stokes sent the teenager “taking a dip” at number three, scoring 10 from eight balls as the tourists chased a quick victory. delayed until the next morning.
Rehan Ahmed says it’s his ‘dream’ to play for England against Australia in the Ashes series
Ahmed became England’s youngest Test cricketer after making his debut last December.
Although Jack Leach remains above him in the Test pecking order, England know the Leicestershire player has the temperament to take on Australia. A notable feature of his professional career so far (incorporating just four first-class matches, remember) has been an image of great confidence.
It’s not one Ahmed knowingly deconstructs, but an episode featuring his childhood coach and mentor Rahim Ali after returning to the East Midlands following England’s historic 3-0 win highlights just how much pressure has been put on a player who I was already 18 years old in all formats. with.
Everything in Pakistan seemed a blur, so the pair sat back and watched a televised replay of their seven matches.
“It was weird because I felt like when I looked at myself, I felt every ball, exactly what I was thinking for each one,” Ahmed recalls.
‘The only thing I played for England so far, not that it scared me, but I knew it would make me more nervous was Test cricket, and I was.
‘When I was bowling my first pitch to Azhar Ali, I thought: ‘I can’t feel my forearm.’ But I loved the feeling. It took two or three balls for him to leave. When I got hit on my first limit, I just thought: now it’s a normal game.
Speaking after opening his wicket accounts in both one-day internationals and Twenty20 matches on the white ball tour of Bangladesh, he adds: ‘The Test match was the highest level of pressure I’ve ever played at. That was a different kind of intensity. This was very difficult, but a test match was physically and mentally much more difficult.
The 18-year-old recently appeared with the ball in England’s T20 loss to Bangladesh in Mirpur.
He has now played in all formats for England and admitted that the Test format was the most difficult.
‘One hundred percent of the joy I got from playing Test Match and winning the Test Match was unmatched. I don’t know if anything can match that.
In Bangladesh, Ahmed was part of an England bowling attack alongside Adil Rashid, the man he is set to replace in the long run as the country’s top spinner.
For now, they’re still quite different bowlers: Rashid gives the ball air and tries to outplay opponents with his variations, while Ahmed employs a much faster, flatter trajectory and narrower range of delivery, looking to hit the balls. stumps as often as possible.
Naturally, he has tapped into Rashid’s insights into the art of the leg twist, but the influential Richard Dawson was also present in Bangladesh. Two years ago, it was Dawson’s unwavering commitment to Ahmed as England under-19 manager that catalyzed his career. Until then, he was far from certain that Leicestershire would award their young star a professional contract.
Next week, the two will sit down with Mo Bobat, the ECB’s director of performance, and members of Leicestershire’s coaching staff to map out a game plan for the summer of 2023 designed to get him ready for senior national team matches.
Ahmed took seven wickets in a dream debut and could follow it up this summer against Australia
One aspect that the first part of the season should teach him is patience. Conditions favorable to the closer are unlikely to lead to a large volume of overs for a wrist spinner.
Patience is also developing off the pitch. Before his first winter as an England player, Ahmed stated that he had no hobbies as his life was 24/7 cricket.
But being in hotel rooms for weeks on end has altered that perspective. He recently dove into Resurrection: Ertuğrul, a 13th-century Turkish period drama on Netflix, which traces the rise of the Ottoman Empire. At five seasons and 448 episodes long, it requires commitment.
Like the test cricket. “I used to see it as something that is a boring game. But it’s a long game, it’s the hardest game. Now I see it as the most fun game, the one that I enjoy the most, ”he says.