Rehan Ahmed’s rise with England has been a “fairy tale” that Leicestershire are determined to help the teenager keep writing, Foxes cricket manager Claude Henderson has said.
At 18 years and 128 days, Ahmed became the youngest man to play a Test for England when he took to the pitch in Karachi.
His 5-48 in the third day against Pakistan made him the youngest English player to win five wickets on his Test debut.
“I hope his career with England develops in a positive way,” Henderson said.
“The timing for him to be part of the England team is great, with a new manager and a new captain, and playing that positive cricket which is the brand he wants to play.
“It’s a fairy tale story, he is very confident, full of energy and loves a challenge.”
The eight-wicket win over Pakistan to complete a historic 3-0 series triumph was the first time Ahmed had celebrated a top-class victory, albeit only his fourth game.
Leicestershire ended their County Championship Division Two campaign without a win last season.
The leg-spinner only made his first-class debut last summer and played for the Foxes second XI as recently as July.
“This is just the beginning of Ahmed’s story”
He was 13 when he left his home country of Nottinghamshire for Leicestershire.
It was a move that surprised many in the game, as the path was well traveled in the other direction. Stuart Broad, James Taylor and Harry Gurney were among the list of recent players to travel up the A46 to Trent Bridge and enter the English setup as Notts players after starting out at Leicestershire.
Jigar Naik, Leicestershire’s talent pathway manager, said “everyone involved is extremely proud” of what Ahmed has achieved with the national team at such an early stage in his career.
“From the moment we saw him, as a coaching staff, we thought this kid was very special,” Naik said. BBC East Midlands Today.
“He’s got talent, but what people don’t realize is that the hard work he put in behind the scenes has been amazing.
“I got up every morning to watch it. It was wonderful and great news for the club.
“I have the funny feeling that this is only the beginning of the story.”
“He will be a real jack-of-all-trades”
It is with the bat that many in Leicestershire predict Ahmed will impress most. He made one in the first round in Karachi before contributing 10 after coming number three in the second.
“He’s a brilliant hitter,” said Leicestershire second XI manager Dips Patel.
“He likes his stick more than his bowling. I think he finds bowling quite easy, but his stick is fantastic and he will be a real jack-of-all-trades.”
Ahmed instantly became one of the hottest properties in English cricket, and one that is under contract with Leicestershire until 2026.
While the Foxes failed to win any County Championship matches last season, they reached the quarter-finals of the One-Day Cup.
“It’s important on our side that we keep him happy,” Henderson said.
“He has a major role to play in all three formats with bat and ball. He is an integral part of our first team and will remain so for years to come.”