Rehan Ahmed will be 18 years and 126 days when he plays for England against Pakistan in Karachi; teenager one of two changes to tourists' XI as they go in search of 3-0 series sweep; wicketkeeper Ben Foakes also comes in as Will Jacks and James Anderson make way
Friday 16 December 2022 16:40, UK
Teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed will become England's youngest men's Test cricketer after being awarded his debut in the final game of the series against Pakistan in Karachi from Saturday.
The Leicestershire player will be 18 years and 126 days when the final Test begins, beating the record of Brian Close, who was 18 years and 149 days when he played against New Zealand in Manchester in July 1949.
Ahmed is one of two changes to the England side as the tourists seek a historic 3-0 series sweep and a ninth win in 10 Tests since Ben Stokes became captain and Brendon McCullum head coach.
Ahmed and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes come into the XI, in place of seamer James Anderson and off-spinning all-rounder Will Jacks.
Foakes will regain the gloves from Surrey team-mate Ollie Pope, who kept in the first Test in Rawalpindi when Foakes was ill and then retained his spot behind the stumps for the second fixture in Multan.
Ahmed will not be the youngest person to play a Test for England, with that accolade going to Holly Colvin, who was 15 years and 336 days when she played for the women's team against Australia at Hove in 2005.
Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (captain), Ben Foakes (wicketkeeper), Ollie Robinson, Rehan Ahmed, Jack Leach, Mark Wood
Speaking about the inclusion of Ahmed, who has played just three first-class games, Stokes said: "Having a wrist-spinner is always exciting, especially for England.
"But it's about not getting too carried away with the potential that he has because he is only young. You've still got to nurture talent, no matter how exciting it is."
"I think it's a good opportunity for us to not only look at him but for him to come in and experience what it's like to play international cricket.
Ahmed was not initially in England's Test squad but impressed Stokes, McCullum and England's managing director of men's cricket Rob Key on a pre-series training camp in Abu Dhabi.
"We obviously brought him in to try and get him amongst us and experience what it's like being in this cricket team and we've been very impressed with what we've seen.
"He's got a lot of skill with both bat and ball, so it's great to be able to bring someone with the talent and the excitement that he has into the squad and see what he's got.
Ahmed took 12 wickets as England Under-19s reached the final of the World Cup in the West Indies earlier this year, while he picked up a five-wicket haul and scored a century in the same game while playing for Leicestershire against Derbyshire in the County Championship in September.
Ahmed's summer also included playing for England Lions against South Africa in red-ball cricket and making five appearances for Southern Brave in The Hundred.
Stokes added: "I think being at such a young age, it's great to see someone who has so much freedom in what they do. The way that he bats, he likes to get on with it and show what he's about. He's got a vast array of shots.
"Obviously a wrist-spinner is great to be able to have in your team, especially in these conditions.
"We've taken a look at the wicket. It looks very dry and I think it might spin a bit more than it did in the last Test match - but I'm not great at looking at pitches!
"It's exciting times for Rehan and he was very excited when we gave him the nod.
Sky Sports Cricket's Michael Atherton...
"Ahmed bowls brisk leg-spinners and googlies, he gives it a bash down the order and Stokes and McCullum like what they saw in Abu Dhabi.
"It is a dry-looking pitch which England think will spin, therefore a perfect opportunity to give young Rehan his debut. It is quite the story and an amazing rise to the top.
"He is clearly a very talented young man - he has played for England Under-19s and been on the radar for some time - and England are not blessed with a great number of spinners in county cricket. The Stokes and McCullum management team are also not afraid of taking a risk.
"Sometimes English cricket gets a bad wrap when it comes to young cricketers, there is a feeling they don't really throw them in, but we have picked quite a few teenagers [over the years], enough 18, 19, 20, 21-year-olds when they are good enough."
Watch day one of the third Test between Pakistan and England, in Karachi, live on Sky Sports from 4.30am on Saturday. The first ball is at 5am.