Spin | Exciting arrival for Rehan Ahmed, England’s bright new spin talent

aRehan Ahmed walked off the field with a bright smile, and the gazelle’s habit began. With his teammates applauding from afar, his father, Naeem, watching emotionally from the stands, Ahmed’s joy was acted out in a simple, innocent act. He flicked the ball in the air, from one set of fingers to the other, that grin still very much intact. He held the ball aloft briefly to cajole the crowd, but again resorted to throwing it several times before finally going over the bounds.

In this moment, the greatest moment of his short career, Ahmed had to do what he had done all his life, what led him to make his Test debut at the age of 18, what led to that historic five-wicket haul. He just had to rip the ball up again.

This was an exciting arrival from the teenager. in receiving his hat on the morning of the openingAnd the He became the youngest cricketer in England. By evening, he knocked out Saud Shakil with a broken leg and caught Ashraf with Google’s spitting.

It would have been a good debut, but the fun continued. He stepped in decisively in Pakistan’s second half, taking advantage of a poor batting display. There was luck in the way Babar Azam hit a long jump straight into ole bob in the middle of Fiket, but also skill in the side spin that found the edge of the spur Mohammad Rizwan. Displacing Agha Salman to complete Pakistan’s collapse, Ahmed became the youngest men’s Test debutant to take five wickets in an innings, fielding Pat Cummins at number one.

There is no doubt that Ahmed has a lot to learn. Like any wrist-spinning youngster learning the nuances, lines and lengths can get sloppy, with a freebie lurking just around the corner. While the googly takes you on a wild ride across the outer edge of the left-hander’s house, his leg break needs a little paint. The England administration was clear that it was a work in progress.

“We know it’s not the final article,” Brendon McCollum said when Ahmed was called into the Test squad, and Ben Stokes echoed those remarks after the win in Karachi on Tuesday. Even mavericks, who picked a kid who appeared in three first-class appearances, urge caution.

This throws in one of the most intriguing subplots of the Ben & Baz era. Under Stokes and McCullum, the spinning role took on a new lease of life. Jack Leach was a disposable, coming in and out of the eleventh; Since Stokes was appointed captain, the left arm player has played every game, They were urged to attack and grew in faith. Stokes seemed to value his slow bowling, and after a smooth launch that did better than expected he also had a raw but talented leg bowler to work with.

This is not a situation English cricket has handled well in the past, having been stuck in an uncomfortable relationship with leg-spin, and confusing over how to make the best use of these wizards. Take a look at Adil Rashid, who somehow ended up playing 19 Tests when his talents demanded the most.

Ben Stokes congratulates Rehan Ahmed after the spinner takes the share of Agha Salman. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Stokes, with his current inability to do anything wrong, may find a way to set things right this time, but how Ahmed will be protected and developed in the short term remains a mystery. Leach was rightly locked in as first choice and England’s next Test assignment in New Zealand, where spin support would not be required. We may not see Ahmed in a Test shirt again until England’s tour of India in January 2024.

The traditional answer is to let Ahmed return to the Championship and set everything Grace’s way. But this road comes with a warning sign. The local game can be a tricky place for a small item. If the circumstances are against you, which they often are, you’ll be the first person off the team, forced to wear an apron to carry drinks.

Even international recognition will not provide you. Take Dom Pace, who was England’s first choice two years ago while Leitch’s second choice at Somerset. He had to leave for Yorkshire for a series of games at county level. Ahmed’s batting ability – which may surpass his bowling in the future – means he will get matches. The main question is whether he gets the right amount of overages.

How does England play this? McCollum has already announced his encouragement to Ahmed to continue his development in the franchise circuit. The IPL auction takes place on Friday, although reports out on Tuesday suggest that Ahmed may make the decision not to put his name in the mix. Another option worth considering is fast-tracking him into the white-ball setup as a replacement for Rasheed, to come and play the single game, learning all the tricks from the veteran.

The main thing here – for everyone – is to be patient. This Cummins track record is worth noting; Australian Express He took seven wickets on debut against South Africa in 2011 as an 18-year-old and was an impressive prospect. Then his body shattered. It wasn’t until 2017 that he returned to the test scene, finally being able to handle the physical demands of the red ball game. For Ahmed, the challenge will be different: to keep honing his skills before he gets his next shot. It can take a long time for him to get really ready for Test cricket.

There will be tough days ahead, the ones when the sixty keeps falling, the lines go awry, and luck doesn’t go its way. For now, though, it’s worth letting Ahmed enjoy this undeniably adorable moment. Somewhere in there, he might have been passing that match ball from one hand to the other, still beaming.

This is an excerpt from The Guardian’s cricket weekly email, The Spin. To sign up, simply visit this page and follow the instructions.

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