The son of legendary Pakistan wrist spinner Abdul Qadir is the subject of an intriguing tug-of-war for his services between Australia and his native land.
The Immigration Minister, Brendan O’Connor, on Tuesday announced Fawad Ahmed’s citizenship and now it can be revealed senior Australian cricket figures have their eye on another talented young leg-spinner from the subcontinent – one with a famous surname.
Usman Qadir, 19, spent last summer playing club cricket in Adelaide and with South Australia’s Futures League team based around players under 23 and has reported interest in returning next season and then pledging his allegiance to Australia. However, in a fascinating twist, there were reports on Tuesday that the Pakistan Cricket Board would make him a shock inclusion in its squad for their tour of the West Indies this month — despite him having not yet played a first-class match. In what is being viewed as a radical move to force young Qadir’s hand and stave off keen interest from Australia, Pakistan appear ready to pick him simply to ensure he remains in their ranks.
‘‘He has shown some interest [in representing Australia] but I also know he’s of significant interest in his home system,’’ said South Australia’s director of cricket Jamie Cox. ‘‘We’re pretty much tip-toeing our way through our options from here.’’
Qadir, a Pakistan under-19 representative last year, starred in the Adelaide club competition last summer, and was called up by the Redbacks for the interstate second XI competition, before flying home early after being involved in a minor car accident.
It was anticipated he would return to Adelaide on another visa next season, sponsored again by South Australia. Officials had discussions with Cricket Australia along these lines.
‘‘We’ve left the conversation very open but we’ve made it clear to him that if he’s going to come back here again we’re going to want more of a commitment,’’ Cox said. ‘‘He hasn’t come out and said ‘if you can do this and that, then I’m yours’. I think he’s still very much considering it from what I can gather but he’s also very much in [Pakistan’s] eyes as well.
‘‘With Qadir it’s a very different story to the Fawad case. But we’ve spoken to CA about it and followed their progress on Fawad pretty closely. He’s a young fellow with obviously good genetics and talent who just happened to play a year of club cricket here and did well. We’ve sort of left it in Ussy’s hands.’’
The dearth of leg-spin talent in Australia has fuelled interest in both Ahmed and Qadir, but the sudden elevation of the teenager into Pakistan’s national squad could throw a significant spanner in the works.
Qadir was quoted last December saying he had been ‘‘offered to play for Australia’’ but that he had not made a decision. ‘‘I’ve left the final decision in my father’s hands,’’ a Pakistani cricket website reported him as saying in an interview.
Qadir’s father, who took 236 wickets in 67 Tests for Pakistan, is regarded as one of the game’s finest ever leg-spinners.
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