Fresh from a career-breakthrough double last month, confidence seeps through Rehan Ahmed’s answers as he considers the prospect of joining England’s pre-Christmas Test tour of Pakistan.
Leicestershire’s teenage all-rounder has played just three first-class matches and in his most recent against Derbyshire he scored his first hundred and took a maiden five-wicket haul.
That confirmed him as the most exciting English cricketer of his generation and raised the possibility that he is promoted from a pre-series training camp in the United Arab Emirates.
Rehan Ahmed (right), is confident as he considers the prospect of joining the England camp
The gifted all-rounder, 18, has appeared as a net bowler for England since he was 13 years old
England have known about Ahmed, 18, for quite some time: his leg-spin was testing Test players in Lord’s practice not long after he left primary school and he has made numerous reappearances as a net bowler since.
And with Jack Leach the only frontline spinner picked among the 15 names for December’s three-match series, he is set to travel to Pakistan in a similar capacity.
That would conceivably push him into the mix for selection as England’s youngest-ever Test cricketer, an honour currently held by Brian Close, who was 149 days beyond his 18th birthday.
‘Personally I feel mentally ready. They have not said ‘we are taking you, or this or that’. I feel like I always have to be ready for that moment,’ Ahmed says.
‘James Anderson is going to be on the tour, so that’s just mental. He’s played international cricket longer than I’ve been alive! It’s crazy.
‘But I am trying to stay in the present, not thinking too far ahead, and I never do. I will keep trying to train my best in Dubai and hopefully if they take me along to train with them, great, if not I will come back and train with Leicester.’
The leg-spinner starred in the Under-19 World Cup, where his country lost in the final to India
He is clearly undaunted by the prospect. Then again, that’s him all over. Take his attitude towards that contest versus Derbyshire when his unflinching self-promotion led to elevation to number five in the batting order.
‘It was the last game of the season and I’d been asking to bat higher in every single game that I’d played, to be fair. It was one of those times of the year we hadn’t got anything to win and not much to lose, so the coaches just took a chance on me,’ he explains.
‘I was reminding Paul Nixon and Claude Henderson all season, even at the start, things like ‘I’m a batsmen, you know.’ I’ve always seen myself as more of a batsman to be honest, so to get a hundred was satisfying.’
Despite his tender age, neither is he shy of making plays in the field, when he is itching to have a bowl, viewing it as ‘not showing off but showing the things that I can do.’
He explains: ‘I always make sure my arm is turning round when I look at the captain, just for a bit of a hint. I always tell the captain I’m ready to bowl in any situation, whether it’s the worst time to bowl or the best time, and no one’s put me back in my place, they’re always trying to back me.
‘I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not going to be the best bowler all of the time or the best batsman all the time, I know I’m going to fail, but when I’m doing well I just try to do as well as I can.’
With Jack Leach (above, right) the only frontline spinner named in England’s pre-Christmas Test tour of Pakistan, Ahmed is set to travel to Asia as a net bowler again and could be selected
There is one surprise admission from the middle brother of three cricket-crazy Nottingham boys, however. He is not even the best of the Ahmed siblings.
That honour, he says, goes to Raheem, a left-arm seamer one year his senior who also came through the Grace Road academy but has been unlucky with injury.
Younger brother Farhan, an off-spinner, played multiple matches for Nottinghamshire’s second XI last summer aged just 14.
‘We have all had dreams about all three of us playing,’ Ahmed adds, of the precociously-talented family’s international ambitions. His own career remains in fast forward.
Last summer, as a 17-year-old, he was picked for England Lions and claimed centurion Janneman Malan, castled by a googly, as one of three victims in a 50-over win over South Africa.
His future will be mapped out by Mo Bobat, the ECB’s performance director, in conjunction with his club Leicestershire
His performances in the 2022 Vitality Blast, in which he claimed 19 wickets, and in the Hundred led to him being inundated with franchise offers too, although his future will be mapped out by Mo Bobat, the ECB’s performance director, in conjunction with Leicestershire.
English supporters will be pleased to hear that such planning will be Test-centric, which will provide the self-confessed cricket obsessive with plenty of on-field time to indulge his one true passion.
‘I just never get sick of it, really. Even on a bad day, I’m like, so what? I just keep shadow-batting, I guess. I keep thinking about the game. I just think it’s the best thing ever. I don’t really think of studies, movies, anything like that. It’s just cricket.’
To the extent that when his Southern Brave coach Mahela Jayawardene banned him from practice, in order to rest, he circumvented the order.
‘They would train during the day, so I’d go to the indoor centre at 7, when they were out,’ he explained. ‘I can’t go a day without picking up a bat or a ball. It’s not possible.’
He is clearly a player desperate to make an impact and the biggest of his life might just come down the road from Mirpur, the city from where his taxi-driving dad Naeem hails.
‘It would mean the world to represent England in Pakistan. It would be great,’ he smiles.