From his volatile homeland to the lush rainforest-clad hills of Dominica, Fawad Ahmed’s journey from asylum seeker to Test cricketer for Australia is tantalisingly close to completion.
As he waits to learn whether he’ll receive a baggy green cap on Wednesday for the first Test against the Windies, the leg-spinner says it’s time to move the focus from his past and onto on-field performances.
Forced to flee his home in the north-west of Pakistan in 2010, Fawad arrived in Australia with no plan simply beyond finding somewhere where he could live safely.
Cricket was always going to play some role in his time in Australia but the 33-year-old believed it would be more of a social experience at a club in Melbourne than on the biggest stage of all.
It’s a remarkable story but not, in Fawad’s opinion, truly that different to many of his teammates in the Australian squad.
“I have to perform well on the field as well to justify my selection,” he said.
“That’s the main thing. Whatever background you are – there are so many other different stories as well – it might be the guys who come from the countryside and been through tough times.
“They might have left their families as well to go to the city to play cricket.
“So there is a story behind every single person.”
Fawad’s chance to play the first Test in Dominica hinges largely on the state of the pitch at Windsor Park.
The venue is historically spin-friendly and Australia will be sorely tempted to pick both incumbent spinner Nathan Lyon and Fawad if the pitch matches that expectation.
Fawad could only manage two wickets in the tourist’s warm-up game against a WICB President’s XI in Antigua and admits for a period in the first innings he didn’t bowl to expectations.
His previous first class outing had included a career-best 8-89 in March in the Sheffield Shield final between Victoria and Western Australia.
And Fawad is confident one single performance, good or bad, is unlikely to have any true impact on whether he makes his Test debut this week or not.
“It’s a different culture in the Australian system,” he said.
“They just look to the conditions and pick their best XI for the game.
“I’ve come off a really good Sheffield Shield season. Not only one season, but two-and-a-half seasons In Australia, limited overs as well.
“They’re not just going to look at six, seven, eight overs that went not as well as normally. They know what my ability and skills are. I think it will be fine.”