Rehan Ahmed, England’s rising spinner, arrives.

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By Creative Media News

As Rehan Ahmed went off the field smiling broadly, the spinner’s routine kicked in. With his teammates celebrating in the distance and his father, Naeem, looking empathetically from the stands, Ahmed’s happiness was exemplified by a simple, innocent action. He flicked the ball into the air, passing it from one set of fingers to the next while maintaining that smile.

He temporarily held the ball aloft to take in the applause of the spectators, then resorted to tossing it a few more times before finally crossing the line.

At this moment, the finest of Ahmed’s short career, he had to accomplish what he had done his entire life, what had led to his Test debut at age 18 and this unprecedented five-wicket haul. He needed only to throw the ball again.

Rehan ahmed, england's rising spinner, arrives.
Rehan ahmed, england's rising spinner, arrives.

This was an impressive entrance by the adolescent. He became England’s youngest male Test cricketer upon getting his cap on opening morning. He had dismissed Saud Shakeel with a leg break and Faheem Ashraf with a spitting googly by sunset.

That would have been sufficient, but the enjoyment persisted. He made a significant intervention in Pakistan’s second innings, capitalizing on their weak batting performance.

Babar Azam was fortunate to hit a long-hop straight to Ollie Pope at midwicket, but the side spin that found the edge of Mohammad Rizwan was the result of talent. With the dismissal of Agha Salman, Ahmed became the youngest male Test debutant to capture five wickets in an innings, displacing Pat Cummins from the top spot.

Without a doubt, Ahmed has much to learn. As with any novice wrist-spinner, the lines and lengths can go wild, with a freebie lurking in the shadows. While his googly takes you on a crazy ride past the outer edge of the left-hander, his leg break needs some work. The management of England has made it obvious that he is a work in progress.

Englands rising spinner
Rehan ahmed, england's rising spinner, arrives.

Brendon McCullum stated, “We know he’s not the final product” when Ahmed was added to the Test squad, and Ben Stokes repeated those sentiments following Tuesday’s triumph in Karachi. Even those who chose a player with three first-class outings are advising caution.

This creates one of the most captivating subplots of the Ben & Baz era. Under the direction of Stokes and McCullum, the role of spin has been revitalized. Since Stokes was named captain, the left-arm spinner has played in every game, has been encouraged to attack, and his confidence has improved.

Stokes appears to enjoy slow bowling, and after a gentle debut that has exceeded expectations, he also has a raw but talented leg-spinner to work with.

This is not a position that English cricket has handled well in the past, as they have been in an awkward relationship with leg-spin bowlers, unsure of how to effectively utilize these magicians. Consider Adil Rashid, who played 19 Tests even though his talent deserved much more.

Stokes, who is currently incapable of making a mistake, may find a way to make things right this time, but it is unclear how he will safeguard and nurture Ahmed in the medium term.

England’s next Test assignment is in New Zealand, where spin support will not be required, thus Leach is the obvious first option. It is possible that Ahmed will not play another Test until England tours India in January 2024.

The conventional solution is for Ahmed to return to the County Championship and Leicestershire while he perfects his game at Grace Road. However, this path is marked with a caution sign. For a young spinner, the domestic game may be a hazardous environment.

If conditions are against you, as they frequently are, you will be the first person to leave the squad and be forced to carry the drinks while wearing a bib.

Even international recognition does not save you. Take Dom Bess, who was England’s first-choice spinner a few years back while Leach was Somerset’s second-choice. He was required to relocate to Yorkshire to play at the county level.

Due to Ahmed’s batting skills, which may surpass his bowling in the future, he will receive playing time. The critical question is whether he receives the appropriate number of overs.

How will England approach this? McCullum has already expressed his support for Ahmed’s continued development on the franchise circuit. On Friday, the IPL auction will take place, although sources from Tuesday indicate that Ahmed may choose not to participate.

Consider integrating him into the white-ball setup as Rashid’s understudy so that he can play the occasional game and acquire all of the veteran’s techniques.

Patience will be essential in this situation for everyone. The Australian fast bowler Cummins got seven wickets in his debut against South Africa in 2011 as an 18-year-old, and he was electrifying potential. Then his body disintegrated. He did not return to Test cricket until 2017 when he was finally able to handle the physical demands of the red-ball game.

Before he receives his next opportunity, Ahmed will face a unique obstacle: he must continue to hone his skills. It may be some time before he is genuinely prepared for Test cricket.

There will be days where the sixes keep falling, the lines go astray, and his luck will not be on his side. For the time being, though, it is important to let Ahmed enjoy this unquestionably great moment.

He is probably still grinning as he passes the match ball from one hand to the other anywhere in the world.

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