JLT Sheffield Shield 2018-19
Fawad still hopeful of state deal
Leg-spinner chasing last-minute deal after being omitted from Bushrangers' initial round of contracts
27 April 2018, 08:37 PM AEST
Leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed is holding out hope of snagging a last-minute state deal after the former Australia ODI representative was a shock omission from the initial round of state contracts.
Fawad, who finished the recent JLT Sheffield Shield season as the second leading spinner with 27 wickets in seven games, faces an uncertain wait to see if the Bushrangers retain him in their 2018-19 squad.
It's understood paceman James Pattinson's return to state ranks after he was overlooked for a national contract has left Victoria with some tricky decisions to make, which could include overlooking one of the country's best spinners.
News Ltd has reported that highly-rated teenage off-spinner Sam Grimwade looks set to win a spot alongside recent South Africa Test squad member Jon Holland on the Bushrangers list for next season.
Victoria, or another state, could yet offer Fawad a deal with contract lists to be finalised early next month. When contacted, Cricket Victoria declined to comment. The 36-year-old remains under contract for the Sydney Thunder in the KFC Big Bash League.
The development comes despite an impressive Sheffield Shield record of 147 wickets at 31 in 41 games for Victoria, in which he has played a key role in their history-making three-straight Shield titles between 2014 and 2017.
The Pakistan-born wrist-spinner was also a top performer in the JLT One-Day Cup last October, claiming 12 wickets – the equal-third most in the tournament.
It would appear a number of his state teammates remain in his corner; former Victoria captain Cameron White on Friday labelled Fawad the third-best spinner in the country on Twitter.
And only last month, Australia limited-overs star Aaron Finch singled out Fawad for praise after a match-winning Shield performance against NSW, suggesting he's getting "better with age".
"The way he has kept bamboozling guys with a leg-spinner and a googly that guys are still struggling to pick after he has played for five, six years now is extraordinary," Finch said of the leggie, who played five times for Australia in the limited-overs formats in 2013.
"He's such a huge asset, and he's bowling beautifully at the moment. He was probably just off it in the game before he played … but he has worked hard, and it's good to see him get the rewards."
Victoria failed to reach the Shield final for the first time since 2013-14 last summer, while they have gone five seasons without reaching the one-day domestic competition, finishing third the past three seasons.
Fawad's reported exit from Victoria comes after Tasmania confirmed the first major interstate signing of the off-season, with former Blues quick Gurinder Sandhu crossing the Bass Strait.
Former Test batsman Nic Maddinson is also reportedly set to join coach Trent Johnstone in leaving NSW Blues in the off-season.