Rehan Ahmed
Rehan Ahmed. Pic Credits: Twitter

Rehan Ahmed’s inclusion in the Test team might have seemed a little impromptu. But a day after Brendon McCullum, the team’s head coach, notified Ahmed that he had been chosen for the Pakistan tour, men’s director of cricket Rob Key said it had always been that way. 

In October, a 15-man Test squad was chosen without Ahmed’s name, who was included in the Lions squad. A training camp in Dubai and participation in the Test team’s ongoing exhibition game against the Lions in Abu Dhabi were to be followed by a secondment on the Test tour to further his development. 

The fact that Rehan Ahmed’s call-up has been made official in this way, a week before the first Test, is the result of careful, necessary planning.

This Is The Best Way To Rehan Ahmed’s His Development: Rob Key

Rehan Ahmed
Rehan Ahmed (Getty Images)

And while that would not necessarily have prevented Ahmed from being selected, especially under captain Ben Stokes whose tenure has involved changing the way things were done, the fact that it has happened is due to careful, necessary planning. 

“The plan for Rehan was that we always looked to bring him into the squad,” Key said in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. “This is the best way to aid his development. He is a serious talent, but he might be four or five years off being the finished product. He is nowhere near the finished article at the moment. 

“But we just hope that being involved with the Test squad, with McCullum and Stokes and the mentality they have … bowling at Joe Root. He becomes a full member of that squad, he’s not just a net bowler.

“If needed, we believe he can play and do a good job for us with bat and ball. It’s a chance to put him on a path that will get the best out of him. 

“Credit to the Test set-up, we feel that is the best group of people to aid his development and get him to where we think he can be quicker, by being involved with not just the captain or Brendon, but every one of those players has a part to play in his development.” 

Rehan Ahmed contributed to the exclamation point of the Lions’ response as he bowled eight wicketless overs for 73 runs on day one of this proposed three-day warm-up at the Tolerance Oval as the Test “XI” built up 501 for seven. Three fours and two sixes, both off Liam Livingstone, were part of his quick 26 off 10 deliveries.

Livingstone retaliated in the same over by pretending to be run out at the non-end striker’s before eventually bringing about his own demise through more traditional means. As a result, the Lions finished the second day 411 for 9. The innings’ foundation was given by Haseeb Hameed’s composed 145 and an efficient 82 from fellow opener Tom Haines.

We Wanted It To Be More Of A Soft Launch: Rob Key

Rehan Ahmed
Rehan Ahmed (Getty Images)

Rehan Ahmed’s innings, which was confident, carefree, and exactly what you’d expect from an 18-year-old, can possibly be extrapolated to the impression he made on McCullum, who was reportedly hesitant to choose Ahmed before having met or completely engaged with him. Evidently, the past 48 hours have impressed him. 

However, there was always a duty of care to a young man who had only made three first-class appearances for Leicestershire and had just turned 18 in August. 

“How we’ve done it, we wanted it to be more of a soft launch, rather than just announcing him in a squad and away you go, with all the media speculation,” Key revealed.

“He has been able to come out here, we have had a look at him. Mo Bobat [ECB performance director and head coach of the Lions] knows him very well and has had a big part in his development since being a young kid. Every one of these young players has come through that pathway with Bobat, David Court [Player ID Lead].

“They have a good read on these people, they have been in touch with the families and all that stuff. That was the best way we felt we could have that soft launch, so he was around a bit before he finds out he’s been picked in the squad.” 

Rehan Ahmed also has another fascinating feature. His white-ball game is obviously a touch more advanced despite having a century and a five-wicket haul with the red ball, both of which were achieved against Derbyshire in a County Championship match at the close of the 2022 season.

He had offers for franchise cricket this winter as a result. He very likely would have played in England’s ODIs in Australia that followed the T20 World Cup if the timetables had been different because he trained with the limited-overs team during the summer. 

We Have Given Rehan Ahmed An Offer He Can’t Refuse: Rob Key

Rehan Ahmed
Rehan Ahmed (Getty Images)

In ceding, Rehan Ahmed will need to make decisions about which colour ball catches his eye throughout the year as his career and personal life move forward. And he admits without hesitation that Ahmed’s exposure to Test cricket has the potential to plant a sizable seed in Ahmed’s mind. 

He arguably could be thinking about franchise cricket but we’ve given him an offer he can’t refuse really – a chance to be involved in Test cricket as the pinnacle. If you can play this form, you can play anything.” 

In terms of on-field matters, Key bases his work thus far as the head of the English game on the last bit of advice, which he holds dear. He has long held the belief that the old and new worlds can coexist peacefully, with a little give and take along the way, even from his days in the commentary box with Sky Sports and others. 

PAK vs ENG: Fast-tracking Rehan Ahmed Into England Test Team Was Always The Intended Strategy - Rob Key PAK vs ENG: Fast-tracking Rehan Ahmed Into England Test Team Was Always The Intended Strategy - Rob Key PAK vs ENG: Fast-tracking Rehan Ahmed Into England Test Team Was Always The Intended Strategy - Rob Key PAK vs ENG: Fast-tracking Rehan Ahmed Into England Test Team Was Always The Intended Strategy - Rob Key

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