Hobart - Fawad Ahmed's record eight-wicket haul in the Sheffield Shield final, entrenching his position atop the season wicket tally, has created a compelling argument for him to join Australia's touring Test squad.
The Victorian leg-spinner took the key scalps of Shaun Marsh and Michael Klinger on day one and then befuddled the Western Australia tail on day two in claiming 8-89 at Blundstone Arena. It saw him overtake Chris Matthews' 8-101 in 1988-89 as the best haul in a shield final, and took his tally to 48 wickets at an average of 23.73.
In addition to the timing of Ahmed's haul, in the match selectors rate above all other domestic matches, it was also pertinent that it was achieved in front of duty selector Trevor Hohns. "I just bowled normally. It was just a lucky day for me ... and at a good time," he said, revealing he had focused on containing scoring rather than seeking wickets.
Australia will almost certainly take a second spinner, to complement Nathan Lyon, to the West Indies for the series in June immediately preceding the Ashes. It is expected both will feature in the first Test in Dominica. While NSW left-arm finger-spinner Stephen O'Keefe is statistically the best spinner in the past two seasons of the shield, it is believed WA's Ashton Agar is ahead of him in the pecking order.
If Ahmed, 33, is chosen for Australia's series in the West Indies and performs well it could persuade selectors to also take him to England, despite him having struggled there when playing for Australia A, and limited-overs for Australia, in 2013. The Pakistan-born bowler remains desperate to play Test cricket, but stressed there was no certainty when it came to selection.