London: England’s teenage spin-sensation Rehan Ahmed will not be touring New Zealand in February for a two-Test series and will instead take part in a T20 league to gain experience of franchise cricket.
Ahmed is one of the England players who will go under the hammer during Friday’s IPL Auction for the 2023 season, which is expected to start in March.
Ahmed, who became the youngest player to take a five-wicket haul during England’s victory against Pakistan in the third and final Test at Karachi recently, will sit out the series in New Zealand as head coach Brendon McCullum and the selectors have decided to juggle the squad to give players rest ahead of the Ashes series and the ODI World Cup in India later in 2023.
One spinner for tour
According to a report in The Guardian, besides Rehan Ahmed, seasoned pacer Mark Wood is also likely to be rested for the tour of New Zealand scheduled to begin on February 16 at Tauranga’s Bay Oval. The second and final Test will be played at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.
The report said as the pitches at the two venues in New Zealand don’t warrant the presence of a second spinner, England will be going into the tour with first-choice spinner Jack Leach.
So, instead of taking the 18-year-old Rehan Ahmed as a passenger on the tour, McCullum and the selectors feel he will benefit more by being part of a T20 league like the Indian Premier League (IPL).
McCullum in full praise
If picked in Friday’s IPL auction, Ahmed will miss Leicestershire’s first few matches in the County Championship.
McCullum was full of praise for young spinner Ahmed after the Pakistan series but said they had to be careful how he was managed.
“It is a great story. He’s a young kid, but he has a tremendous attitude. He has a high ceiling in terms of skill level, a bit of X-factor and he has the potential to wow the world, which is pretty cool,” McCullum was quoted as saying in the New Zealand media.
Living his dream
“We have to look after him, encourage him to get as much experience of conditions and franchise tournaments with different coaches and players to allow that talent to come out.
“To see a young kid given the chance at 18 to live his dream and dominate in a Test match, it might just spark one or two to stay away from the things kids that age are doing, and we might see more coming through. If that happens, Rehan is a pioneer,” said McCullum.
Thus to manage his workload, McCallum, wants Ahmed to participate in the less strenuous T20 league as he will have to bowl only four overs in a match and at the same time will get better control of his bowling while operating in batter-friendly conditions of the shortest format of the game.