England’s youngest men’s Test cricketer on Saturday. The youngest Test cricketer to take a five-for on debut on Monday. Indian Premier League contract on Friday?
It sounds like an updated version of a Craig David classic but it’s not. It’s the week Rehan Ahmed is hoping to experience, with those Test-match records potentially followed by a lucrative T20 gig.
Ahmed, 18, is on a long list of England players looking to be purchased in the IPL auction, alongside Test skipper Ben Stokes, former captain Joe Root and the in-form Harry Brook.
The Leicestershire all-rounder could be an attractive proposition, despite the fact overseas spinners are rarely top of IPL franchises’ shopping lists.
For one, Ahmed won’t cost a fortune. He has a base price of 50 lakh (around £50,000), which despite being elevated from 40 lakh (around £40,000) after his Test debut, remains very reasonable.
He also showed in Pakistan that he has a terrific googly, a decent leg-spinner and a fine temperament. After a nervy start, the teenager grew in confidence and seemed to relish the big occasion.
England captain Stokes told Sky Sports Cricket: “What I was impressed with is that the more Rehan got into the game, the more confident he got in himself to talk to me about fields.
“Leg-spinners are an absolute gem to have. They can change the game and we saw that when he bowled us to victory. For him to have the ability he has but be nowhere near the finished article is exciting. I am not sure what is better, his batting or bowling.”
Stokes gave Ahmed the chance to bat at No 3 in the second innings of the final Test against Pakistan, with the youngster striking two dazzling off-side boundaries before being bowled hacking to leg.
He played a more sustained innings for Leicestershire against Derbyshire in September, hitting a County Championship century in the same game he bagged a five-for. Ahmed is also a livewire in the field so should any IPL side take a punt on him, they will get a three-dimensional cricketer.
The PA news agency said on Wednesday that Leicestershire, who have worked closely with the England and Wales Cricket Board over the youngster’s schedule in the past year, were initially expecting him not to take part in this year’s tournament and to start the LV= Insurance County Championship season with them in April instead.
The county are supportive of Ahmed’s decision to remain in the auction, but while that route was under discussion, with one eye on developing Ahmed’s red-ball skills ahead of a potential role in next summer’s Ashes, the decision was made to keep him in the frame for a contract, with the Pakistan Super League no longer being considered.
England head coach Brendon McCullum told BBC’s Test Match Special: “It would be awesome if [Ahmed got an IPL contract]. Why not get an opportunity to go and play under different coaches and different captains, rub shoulders with different players, pick up those experiences?
“What 18-year-old kid anywhere else in world cricket is going to get those chances? I think we should encourage it. He won’t be in every [England] squad and I’ll encourage him to play as much franchise cricket as he can, get as many experiences around the globe.”
Which other England players are hoping to be picked up?
There are already seven England players who are confirmed to be taking part after being retained by their respective franchises for the 2023 competition, which is scheduled to run from March 26 to May 28.
England’s limited-overs captain Jos Buttler (Rajasthan Royals) and his vice-skipper Moeen Ali (Chennai Super Kings) will both participate. Also retained were Mark Wood (Lucknow Super Giants), Jofra Archer (Mumbai Indians), Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone (Punjab Kings), and David Willey (Royal Challengers Bangalore).
Chris Jordan, Jason Roy and Tymal Mills featured in the 2022 competition but were not retained by their franchises, and the trio are among 27 English players, including Ahmed, who are hoping to be selected on Friday.
The highest-profile England player on the list is Test captain Stokes, who is set to return to the IPL after opting to sit out last year’s tournament.
Also likely to generate significant interest are England’s all-format batting star Brook and T20 World Cup player of the tournament, Sam Curran.
Having stepped down as England Test captain earlier this year, Root has declared himself for the auction in hope of making his IPL debut at the age of 32, but it remains to be seen whether his more restrained style of play will earn him a deal.
England’s senior limited-overs spinner, Adil Rashid, is available, along with fellow international regular Dawid Malan. Other recent members of the England team such as Phil Salt, Reece Topley and Will Jacks are also in the auction.
A notable absence is T20 specialist Alex Hales, who has said he is sitting out the tournament to focus on international commitments following his return to the England set-up.
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