Following the inclusion of Leicestershire’s youthful leg-spinner in the squad for the upcoming tour of Pakistan, Rehan Ahmed may break the record for the smallest man to play men’s Test cricket for England.
Ahmed, who is 18 years and 102 days old, would surpass Brian Close (18 years and 149 days against New Zealand in 1949), who held the record, and become his county’s first England player since James Taylor in 2011, if chosen for the three-game series beginning in Rawalpindi on 1 December.
The decision to call up the player was made following the first day of England’s three-day warm-up match against the Lions in Abu Dhabi. Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, the team’s captain and head coach, respectively, were unfazed by Ahmed’s figures of eight overs, none for 73 as the senior players amassed an astounding 501 for seven from 79 overs.
McCullum, who broke the news to Ahmed over tea, said, “We know he’s not the finished thing and has tremendous potential. Ben, I, and the other coaches appreciate how he plays, though. He will greatly benefit from having had the opportunity to travel with the team to Pakistan, and he will round out the composition of our squad.”
With three first-class games under his belt, Ahmed has undoubtedly been chosen based on potential. He recorded a first-class century (122 from 113 balls) and a five-wicket haul (five for 114 from 28.2 overs) in a draw against Derbyshire at Grace Road, so his summer did conclude on a positive note.
The Twenty20 franchise circuit has already expressed interest in the England Under-19 international, who will give Stokes more options. Before being called up, Will Jacks and Liam Livingstone, two uncapped batting all-rounders, were the tour’s only other frontline spinners. Jack Leach was the only frontline spinner.
In addition to Ahmed’s news, Ollie Pope’s 146 from 120 balls, Zak Crawley’s 96, and Jacks’ 84 from 48 balls, the England pregame match at the Sheikh Zayed Complex saw the fast bowler Jofra Archer make a heartening comeback from an 18-month injury layoff.
After overcoming stress fractures in his elbow and lower back, Archer is thought to be aiming for a comeback during England’s ODI series in South Africa in January. In his maiden outing after his recovery, Archer bowled eight overs, none for 38.
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