Karachi: Leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed will become England’s youngest-ever Test cricketer when the third and final game against Pakistan begins in Karachi on Saturday, skipper Ben Stokes said.
Ahmed will be 18 years and 126 days old when the match begins, beating Brian Close, who was 18 years and 149 days old when he debuted for England against New Zealand at Manchester in 1949.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for us to not only look at him but for him to come in and experience what it’s like to play international cricket,” Stokes told a news conference in Karachi.
“It’s exciting times for Rehan especially, and he was very excited when we gave him the nod that he was going to play last night.”
Stokes announced two changes from the second Test in Multan, which England won by 26 runs to take an unbeatable 2-0 series lead.
Ahmed will replace spinner Will Jacks while wicketkeeper Ben Foakes comes in for James Anderson, who is being rested.
England's bold approach
Ahmed’s inclusion highlights England’s bold approach to Test cricket, adopted since Stokes took over as skipper and former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum became head coach in May.
Stokes said Ahmed was impressive in the last English season, scoring a hundred and taking five wickets in his last first-class match.
He also impressed McCullum and Stokes in the pre-tour match in Abu Dhabi last month.
“He’s got a lot of skill with both bat and ball, so it’s great to be able to bring someone with the talent and the excitement that he has into the squad and see what he’s got this week,” Stokes said.
“He’s got a vast array of shots. And obviously a wrist-spinner is great to be able to have in your team, especially in these conditions,” he said.
Stokes hoped Karachi’s National Stadium pitch would take more spin than the one used in Multan.
“We’ve taken a look at the wicket as well, which looks very dry, I personally think it might spin a bit more than it did in the last Test match,” he said.
England are on their first Test tour of Pakistan since 2005, having long refused to tour for security reasons.