Rehan Ahmed shares his new love of Test cricket as he hails England ‘dream come true’ | Cricket News3 min read
For all that modern narratives may try to cast a shadow over Test cricket, England rising star Rehan Ahmed admits he has experienced a change of heart in his perception of the traditional red-ball format.
The 18-year-old fits the mould as something of a white-ball native, growing up with cricket at a time when it has been suggested the multi-day format might have been losing appeal to new and younger audiences.
But Test cricket remains alive and kicking, rejuvenated by the blistering start England have enjoyed to life under captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum.
Ahmed was an unexpected selection for December’s Test tour of Pakistan but he was no passenger as his seven-wicket match haul in Karachi helped England seal a famous 3-0 clean sweep.
“I used to see it as something that’s a boring game,” he said. “But it’s a long game, it’s the hardest game. Now I see it as the most fun game.
“Test match was the highest level of pressure I’ve ever played in front of. That was a different type of intensity.
“One hundred per cent the joy I got from playing Test match and winning the Test match was unmatched. I don’t know if anything can match that.”
Earlier this month Ahmed became the youngest England male cricketer to play in all three formats of the game on the international stage when he featured in the 3-0 T20I whitewash defeat to Bangladesh.
Before then he had become the youngest England men’s Test debutant at the age of 18 and 126 days against Pakistan in December, capping his series with five wickets in one innings on the third day.
“I don’t think even the Test match has sunk in yet,” he said. “To make my debuts in all three formats in such a short space of time is a dream come true.”
Such has been his bright impression and long-touted potential that Ahmed can dare to believe in his prospects of a spot in England’s Ashes set-up as well as the autumn World Cup in India.
“I still dream of it,” he admitted. “At the same time I take each day as it comes. If I play then I play but if not then I don’t. The thing is with England cricket, if I don’t play I love watching it.
“Watching England cricket live [in Pakistan] was the best day of my life. I’m sure it’ll be again if I don’t play the Ashes.”
Ahmed has relished the opportunity to observe and learn from the success of England team-mate Adil Rashid, who has arguably raised the bar as far as spin-bowling in the shorter formats is concerned.
“Huge shoes to fill,” Ahmed said. “Even thinking about that puts pressure on me. Rash is his own bowler, he’s done so well for England over so many years, so I could only dream of having half the career he’s had.
“Rash is more a traditional leg-spinner, like a Shane Warne or Stuart MacGill type. Whereas I focus on bowling it a bit quicker, not trying to spin it as much.”