Rehan Ahmed to make history as England’s youngest Test cricketer

Rehan Ahmed to make history as England's youngest Test cricketer - Matthew Lewis/Getty
Rehan Ahmed to make history as England's youngest Test cricketer - Matthew Lewis/Getty

Rehan Ahmed will become England’s youngest ever Test cricketer on Saturday after Ben Stokes confirmed he will make his debut in the third Test against Pakistan.

Ahmed beats a record set by Brian Close in 1949 by playing his first game for England aged 18 years and 126 days.

He replaces Will Jacks in the XI as one of two changes by England. James Anderson is rested with Ben Foakes returning to keep wicket, leaving England  one bowler short from the second Test in Multan, although Stokes did not bowl in that match.

Ahmed was not at training on Friday due to illness but the medical team are confident he will be recovered in time to play on Saturday.

“It is a good opportunity, not only for us to have a look at him but for him to experience what life is like in international cricket,” said Stokes.

“We brought him into the squad to get amongst us and experience what it is like being in this group and we've been very impressed with what we've seen with both bat and ball. So it is great to be able to bring someone with the talent he has and see where he can go.

“Being at such a young age, it is great to see someone with so much freedom with what they do. The way he bats, he likes to get on with it and show what he can do. He's got a vast array of shots and to have a wrist-spinner is great in these conditions.

“I think being at such a young age it's great to see someone who has so much freedom in what they do and the way that he bats, he likes to get on with it and show what he's about and almost – not show off – but show what he can do. He's got a vast array of shots. And obviously a wrist-spinner is great to be able to have in your team, especially in these conditions.”

Ahmed has played just three first-class matches, only making his debut against Nottinghamshire in May before appearing in two further Division Two Championship matches in September. He has taken nine wickets at 30 and was a late addition to the touring squad.

Jacks only bowled four overs in the second innings in Multan as England chased victory, and eight overs in the match. He, like Ahmed, is a work in progress as a spinner. Ahmed is seen as an all-rounder, his batting caught the eye in the Lions match that England used as preparation for the tour, more than his bowling. He also scored 122 off 113 balls to register his first championship hundred, against Derbyshire in the final match of the season.

Stokes said: “When we spoke about having Rehan in the squad, it was more than just bringing him in and integrating him into the squad. We did speak about us having no issues with selecting him if we felt it was the right option. I don’t think this is a case of, if he was to play, of giving caps away. We picked him in the squad not just because of his talent, but because we thought it would be a good opportunity to play him if we thought it was necessary.”

“I’m struggling to work out what he is, whether he’s a batter or a leg-spinner, which is I guess good, because it shows how much talent he’s got. We got snippets of what he can do with the bat in that warm-up game briefly, when he got 30 off 10 balls, or something like that. But having a wrist-spinner is always exciting, especially for England, but it’s not getting too carried away with the potential that he has, because he is only young, and you’ve still got to nurture talent."

Pakistan do not know which way to turn. They are considering a recall for former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, 35, to keep wicket having not played Test cricket for three years, allowing Mohammad Rizwan to play as a specialist batsman. Naseem Shah, the last remaining senior fast bowler, is injured and out of the series. Mohammad Wasim, 21, could make his debut in place of Mohammad Ali, who has looked short of pace and class at Test level.