Rehan Ahmed’s rise with England, said cricket manager Claude Henderson, was a “fairy tale” that Leicestershire determined to help the teenager keep writing.
At 18 years and 128 days, Ahmed became the youngest man to play a Test for England when he took to the field in Karachi.
His 5-48 on the third day against Pakistan It made him the youngest England player to take a five-wicket haul in the first Test.
“I hope his career with England can grow positively,” said Henderson.
“The time for him to be part of the England squad is fantastic, with a new coach and captain, and to play positive cricket which is the brand he wants to play.
“He’s a fairytale, he’s got a lot of confidence, he’s full of energy and he loves a challenge.”
The eight-wicket win over Pakistan to complete a historic 3-0 series victory was the first time Ahmed had celebrated a first-class victory, although it was only his fourth match.
Leicestershire ended their County Championship campaign without a win last season.
Spinner only made his debut last summer, and played in the Fox XI as recently as July.
‘This is just the beginning of Ahmed’s story’
He was 13 years old when he moved from his hometown of Nottinghamshire to Leicestershire.
The move came as a surprise to many in the game, as the path was going the other way. Stuart Broad, James Taylor and Harry Gurney were among the list of new players to step up the A46 to Trent Bridge and break into the England squad as Notts players after starting out for Leicestershire.
“Everyone involved is incredibly proud” of what Ahmed has achieved with the national team at such an embryonic stage of his career, says Jegar Naik, Leicestershire’s head of talent pathway.
“From the moment we saw him as a training unit we thought this kid was very special,” Naik said. BBC East Midlands Today.
“He has the talent, but what people don’t realize is that the hard work he did behind the scenes was incredible.
“I used to get up every morning to watch him. It was really great and fantastic news for the club.
“I have a funny feeling that this is just the beginning of the story.”
‘He will be a real pioneer’
With the bat, many in Leicestershire expect Ahmed to impress with more. He made one in the first innings at Karachi before contributing 10 after finishing third in the second.
However, he already has a first-class century to his name after that He hit 122 against Derbyshire On the last day of this summer’s County Championship to help save the game.
“He’s a genius,” said Leicestershire’s second coach, Dibs Patel.
“He enjoys batting more than bowling. I think he finds his bowling very easy, but his strokes are fantastic and he’ll be a real bowler at every level.”
Instantly becoming one of English cricket’s hottest properties, Ahmed is signed to Leicestershire until 2026.
While the Foxes failed to win County Championship matches last season, they did reach the quarter-finals of the One Day Cup.
“It’s important on our part to keep him happy,” Henderson said.
“He has a huge role playing in all three formats with bat and ball. He is a big part of our first team and will be for years to come.”
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