England prepare to offer Rehan Ahmed his Test debut

Rehan Ahmed bowling – England prepare to offer Rehan Ahmed his Test debut – Matthew Lewis/Getty

Rehan Ahmed is set to become England’s youngest Test cricketer on Saturday, with Ben Stokes seriously considering calling him up for the series finale in Karachi.

Ahmed, the 18-year-old from Leicestershire, is likely to replace Will Jacks or Jack Leach as England seek to give him a taste of Test cricket after impressing in tour training.

Ahmed made just three Premier League appearances, only making his debut against Nottinghamshire in May before appearing in two more Division Two Championship games in September. He took nine wickets at 30 and was a late addition to the touring squad.

He was one of the few players to practice at the National Stadium on Thursday while the others played golf. A final decision will be made on Friday when England study the National Stadium surface.

The Jacks managed just four overs in the second leg at Multan as England chased victory, and eight overs in the game. He, like Ahmed, is a work in progress as a spinner. Ahmed is considered a versatile player, his stick caught the eye in the Lions game which England used as preparation for the tour, more so than his bowling. He also scored 122 from 113 to register his first Championship cent, against Derbyshire in the final game of the season.

“Yeah, we thought about it,” Stokes said when asked if Ahmed could play in Karachi. “When we talked about having Rehan in the team, it wasn’t just about bringing him in and integrating him into the team. We said we had no problem selecting him if we thought it was the right option. I don’t think it’s about, if he was going to play, to give caps. We chose him in the team not only because of his talent, but because that we thought would be a good opportunity to play it if we thought it was necessary.

If he plays, Ahmed will become England’s youngest cricket tester at 18 years and 126 days (Saturday). Brian Close was 18 and 149 days old when he was chosen against New Zealand at Old Trafford in 1949, just three months after making his first class debut for Yorkshire.

“I’m having a hard time figuring out what he is, if he’s a hitter or a kicker, which I guess is good because it shows how talented he is. We have some brief excerpts what he can do with the bat in that warm-up game, when he got 30 out of 10 balls, or something like that. But having a spinning wrist is always exciting, especially for England, but this is not getting too carried away with the potential he has, because he is only young, and the talent still needs to be cultivated.”

Ahmed may well be the only change, with England remaining with Ollie Pope as keeper and considering the three dressmakers who played at Multan – James Anderson, Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson – as their strongest attack. It will depend on how these three shape up after four days off with Jamie Overton on standby as a reserve tailor in the team.

Foakes didn’t play at Rawalpindi due to illness and was sidelined completely at Multan as England opted to go for the extra starter and keep Pope as goalkeeper. He was much more orderly behind the stumps in the second test, benefiting from having grown more accustomed to the role. England like the balance of the squad with seven flat bowling options and McCullum wants a result in the final test which is probably bad news for Foakes, who if he doesn’t play here will return competing in New Zealand in February.

Pakistan no longer knows where to turn. They are considering recalling former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, 35, to keep the wicket having not played Test cricket for three years, allowing Mohammad Rizwan to play as a specialist batsman. Naseem Shah, the last remaining senior fast bowler, is injured and ruled out of the series. Mohammad Wasim, 21, could make his debut in place of Mohammad Ali, who looked short of pace and class at Test level.

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