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Ahmed edges towards Ashes place

Leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed has moved a step closer to featuring in the Ashes, having been added to Australia’s A squad for their tour of the British Isles.

As things stand, Pakistan-born Ahmed would not be eligible for an Australian passport until August 18 and he was omitted from both the Ashes and second-string touring parties when they were announced back in April.

However, a likely change to the country's Citizenship Act could speed things up and, with International Cricket Council eligibility rules not applying to A teams, Ahmed will be free to play in four and three-day games against Ireland and Gloucestershire later this month.

Ahmed, 31, said: "I am very happy. It is a great opportunity for me to prove myself for Australia A in overseas conditions.

"I am grateful to Cricket Australia and the national selection panel for this chance, and I will do my best to repay their faith in me."

Proposed changes to the the Citizenship Act allowing special cases to be fast-tracked are one stage away from being made law after yesterday passing through the House of Representatives.

Reports suggest the amendments could pass through the Senate before the end of the month. The first Ashes Test begins on July 10.

Ahmed will fly out to the UK this weekend, meaning he will miss the Australia A tour-opener against Scotland which begins tomorrow but will have two opportunities to impress ahead of the Ashes.

National selection panel chairman John Inverarity said: "We are pleased to be able to provide emerging cricketers with an opportunity to show their abilities.

"Fawad is a spin bowler of interest and we look forward to seeing how he performs for Australia A."

With Nathan Lyon the only front-line spinner named in Australia's 16-man Ashes squad, it seems highly likely that Ahmed will be added to the party should he receive clearance.

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