Melbourne, Nov 15: Pakistani refugee and aspiring leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed will be granted a permanent visa by Australia, it was announced on Thursday.
Fawad, who spent last week in Brisbane bowling his leg-spin to the Australian batsmen in preparation for the Vodafone Test series against South Africa, is very pleased with the Minister's decision.
"I'm grateful to the government and everyone who helped me with my application. It is overwhelming, I'm really happy."
"Ahmed fled persecution in northern Pakistan, where he said he received death threats from religious extremists who accused him of promoting Western values. He was targeted for pursuing the sport he loved, as a player and coach, and for supporting organisations that promoted the education of women and girls," a report on Brisbane Times wrote about Fawad.
Fawad dreams of one day playing at state level or in the KFC T20 Big Bash League, so this outcome brings him a step closer towards achieving those goals.
A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said in a statement: "The Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has personally considered Mr Ahmed's case and decided to grant a permanent visa for him to be able to stay, work and play cricket in Australia, subject to the normal health and security checks which he'll now undertake."
Cricket Australia CEO, James Sutherland, says the Minister's decision is a fantastic result for Fawad and for cricket.
"The Australian cricket community has really come together in support of Fawad, and we are just so thrilled with the news.
"Cricket Australia would like to thank the Immigration Minister for his personal consideration of Fawad's case, and for his decision to grant Fawad a permanent visa.
"This is proof that through cricket, we can help achieve life-changing outcomes for people."
Australia's opening batsman Ed Cowan, who scored his maiden Test century in Brisbane on Monday, has been a mentor and friend of Fawad's during what has been an anxious time for everyone.
"We often see considerable negativity surrounding asylum seekers, so it's incredibly pleasing that an educated, skilful and compassionate young man like Fawad has been given the chance to make a life for himself in Australia.
"We have all been touched by his story and immensely proud of how far he has come."
Cricket Victoria CEO Tony Dodemaide was equally delighted with the news and excited about Fawad's future prospects here in Australia.
"Fawad has made a significant contribution to Hoppers Crossing Cricket Club, Melbourne University Cricket Club and Cricket Victoria as a cricketer.
"Fawad is Cricket Victoria's Multicultural Liaison Officer and Harmony in Cricket Ambassador, and we look forward to seeing further contributions from him, not only to the cricket community, but to the greater Victorian community as well."
Melbourne University Cricket Club President, Derek Bennett, has been immensely pleased with Fawad's contribution at their Club.
"Fawad is an exceptionally talented cricketer and his remarkable story has affected everyone at MUCC. We admire his extraordinary resilience and are delighted that he now has the opportunity to pursue his dreams without the fear of persecution.
"We congratulate Minister Bowen on making a decision that is both fair and will be very beneficial to Fawad and to our community."
As a result of the Minister's decision, Fawad can now look to the future with confidence and certainty. Cricket congratulates Fawad and looks forward to seeing him continue his outstanding contribution to cricket, both on and off the field.