“The world is his oyster right now… there’s no doubt he’s got a ton of talent and the leg rotation is a really tough art to master. He works hard so hopefully he can get to the top and even further,” Matthew Wood, Elite Pathway Manager, Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club.
Rehan Ahmed’s sensational debut performance and five wickets in England’s third Test against Pakistan earlier in December capped what has been a meteoric rise for the 18-year-old in 2022.
He made his first-class debut in May for Leicestershire and became England’s youngest Test player last week, returning the best numbers by an England spinner since Tommy Greenhough’s 16-4-35-5 against India at Lord’s in 1959, as he sacked Pakistan captain Babar Azam, along with Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Wasim and Agha Salman.
Ahmed also took part in the 2023 Indian Premier League auction at the base price of £40,000. He has truly announced himself as one of the brightest prospects in English cricket.
Born in Nottingham in 2004, Ahmed comes from a cricket-loving family that includes father Naeem who played for Pakistan in the 1970s and praised his son on the pitch in Karachi after the former England captain and sky sports specialist Nasser Hussain awarded the debutant his first test cap of a hopefully long international career.
At the age of 13, Ahmed met his idol Shane Warne who swept the talented bowler to stardom as he beat Ben Stokes in a training session at the youth team nets. England.
Warne claimed he would be playing top class cricket when he was 15 and the late Australian was not far off from that prediction.
Matthew Wood, director of Ahmed’s academy in Nottinghamshire, who oversaw his development from age nine to 13 before changing counties to Leicestershire, recalls how motivated and gifted the leg spinner was and how he took on the challenge of playing in older age groups.
wood says Sky Sports News“You thought there was something there, he had the ability to do a mix of throws like leg spinners do. But for a nine-year-old to be able to deliver that and with control was really something quite exceptional.
“He worked with our best youngsters from 12 to 13 and he was always looking to play his age group and his brother Raheem was also in that group and there was always a competitive advantage between the two of them. If there was a challenge in place, he wanted to do the next level of that challenge.
“He worked hard and had a huge passion for the game, he ate and slept cricket.
“We have a very good relationship with their family having Farhan here and we are really delighted to have played a small role in his development.
« The world is his oyster right now, it’s a fantastic start, he needs to keep working hard, like he’s been doing, and there’s no doubt he’s got tremendous talent and the leg rotation is a really difficult art to master.
“He works hard, so let’s hope he can reach the top and even further. His attitude towards his stick reflects a bit of the way England are playing at the moment with quite a fearless approach to the game.
“He was always confident, when there was a challenge he didn’t hesitate at all, but he was really desperate to learn. He was always curious about things and would tell things to his idols and heroes, so to that extent he was always a true student of the game.
« I know his dad worked a lot with him where we trained and he also works a lot with young Farhan so obviously he has a very good knowledge and understanding of cricket. »
Rehan was taking his GCSE just over two years ago and his 14-year-old brother Farhan isn’t far behind in terms of education or cricket development.
Farhan, a versatile colleague, is excelling in Nottinghamshire’s academy and already features for the club’s second XI. He wants to emulate his older brother’s breakthrough at both club and international level.
He said: “I was a bit nervous but it was amazing to see him do well in the Pakistan Test. It was an incredible feeling to see him called, for all my family and especially my mother and my father were already there.
“I got up early every day to watch the test with my whole family.
“I was at school when my teacher told me he had taken five wickets.
“It definitely motivates me to see my brother playing so well and aspiring to play for England. I would love to follow in his footsteps and play for England, that would be the dream.
“Dad used to play when he was in Pakistan and here he played for about 16 years. Apart from training in Notts, we do extra training with him. My brother gives me advice and perspective on what he thinks will be helpful.
« It’s exciting to see how fearless England are under Ben Stokes and Rehan could thrive with that, definitely. »
Leicestershire tied Ahmed to a contract until 2026 earlier this year, he then played for the club’s white ball teams and at County Championship Division Two level last season where he took five wickets and made a century in the September game against Derbyshire.
He is in esteemed East Midlands academy company, having also produced Stuart Broad, James Taylor and Harry Gurney for England.
For members of the Grace Road coaching staff, it’s no surprise that Ahmed captured everyone’s attention and was cheered on by the likes of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.
Dips Patel, the second XI head coach, said: “I first met Rehan when he was nine years old when I was in charge of the U10s at Leicestershire.
“At the time he was playing for Nottinghamshire against us and he knocked us all out and crushed us in the park aged nine in an U11 game. It was great to see him come and join us at Leicestershire when he was 13 and his development has just really progressed through the academy and into the second team and then the first team very quickly.
Asked if it was clear from an early age that he had something special, Patel said: “100%, as soon as he joined us we were really overwhelmed. The level of skill here he showed against the older guys as well and even when he got into the second team the confidence he had was shining.
« He won’t be fazed even on the English stage, he might have a few butterflies in his stomach, but he just has a really good charisma and a really good self-confidence, which is really, really nice to see.
“I’ve always seen him as a kicker, but it’s his stick that excites me. I think he finds bowling quite easy, but the stick he loves and works very hard, but he will be a top notch hitter in my opinion.
“His focus and professionalism are second to none, he is very respectful of the boys and his teammates around him. Whether he’s greeting the catering staff or the Leicestershire stewards, he’s just a very humble person. A lovely child. .
« You just can’t take your eyes off it, box office stuff, I think. »
Jigar Naik, Head of Talent Journey Leicestershire, added: « Rehan first joined us when he was 13 and then when he was 14. I still remember it clearly, he walked into the indoor school and played about three balls and the whole coaching staff looked at each other and thought ‘this kid is next level’.
« We watched his bowling game without even realizing he was hitting, he’s probably a top notch hitter or at least he will become one and the way he bowls speaks for itself.
Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum will always support him so the simplicity of this message for someone passing by is awesome
“I didn’t think he would be making his England Test debut so soon. I knew he wouldn’t be involved in the England U19 setup because of the year he’s had for Leicestershire and we were predicting a winter full of England Lions games for his development, but he has impressed the Lions then went on the tour squad so that was fantastic to hear and such good news for the club.
“I woke up just to watch his Pakistan Test debut, as soon as I found out he was going to play I set the alarm at 4.15am. That says a lot about how he was able to develop this spell, at first he probably played a bit too full. He was rushing and nervous, as you would be, but the way he came back and every spell he cast afterward just got better and better.
“If he continues to work hard, he will become a special cricketer.
« Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum will always be supporting him, so the simplicity of this message for someone passing by is brilliant. »
Ahmed is rested by the ECB for February’s Test series against New Zealand, with the governing body managing the youngster’s playing time. They say he will take part in the UAE T20 League in January with a view to joining the white ball team for the Bangladesh tour in March if selected.
With such an explosive start to his club and international career and high praise from those involved in his cricketing journey so far, expectations will only rise for the youngster.
But Ahmed’s temperament and skills suggest there is little to bother him and he can only capitalize on the belief Stokes and Warne have shown in him and earnestly claim a regular place in England’s squads. in 2023.