Ahmed hopes to inspire fellow asylum seekers
Fawad Ahmed at a cricket clinic for asylum seekers. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Fawad Ahmed knows how traumatic life as an asylum seeker is, and he hopes his story might inspire others.
The Pakistan-born Australian resident has enjoyed a rapid rise through the Australian cricket ranks, culminating in his selection for the first day-night Prime Minister's XI game at Manuka Oval on Tuesday.
However, Ahmed took time out from his match preparations for a clinic with 30 asylum seekers and even more local junior cricketers near the oval on Monday.
The event was a joint venture between the Red Cross and Cricket ACT, with Queanbeyan product Brad Haddin and former Canberra Comet Nathan Lyon also taking part.
Ahmed fled Pakistan in 2010 after receiving death threats. He was granted Australian residency in November. Every asylum seeker's story was different, he said, but he hoped he could help to brighten the day for those at Manuka Oval.
''My last three years were similar to those people and it was like rewinding a movie in my mind. I was thinking about that time when I was looking at those [asylum seekers],'' the leg-spinner said. ''It's always really hard to discuss that kind of stuff, especially from the [different] background, but it's definitely good to involve them in this environment and make them happy and settle them down.''
Ahmed leapt to prominence as a net bowler for the Australian team before November's Test against South Africa in Brisbane.
A standout season in grade cricket with Melbourne University led to his Big Bash League debut for the Melbourne Renegades this summer, as well as getting named in his first Sheffield Shield squad for Victoria last week. Ahmed will now pit his leg spin against the West Indies' master blasters Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard.
It is an opportunity he is looking forward to, despite the Windies' reputations as big hitters.
Gayle smashed 146 off just 89 balls the last time he played at Manuka.
''When I got the call to play for the Prime Minister's XI, all the time, even when at the four-day [Shield] game in Adelaide, I was just thinking about this game and how to bowl,'' Ahmed said.
This year's PM's XI has a multicultural feel, with Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja and Gurinder Sandhu, who has an Indian background, also playing.
Khawaja said it was a reflection of Australia.
''I think Australia's growing and getting more multicultural every day, with more citizens coming in,'' he said.
''Obviously I was one of them when I came from Pakistan and I know Gurinder was born here, Fawad wasn't born here either, so I expect a lot more players from different backgrounds to crop up more and more.''